What do you know about wisdom teeth? If you're like most people, you probably think of them as an unavoidable nuisance that everyone has to deal with at some point. You also probably think that they serve no purpose – kind of like an appendix. However, you may not be as informed about wisdom teeth as you think. Check out three facts that might just completely change your view on wisdom teeth.
Not Everyone Has Them
While it's true that most people do develop wisdom teeth eventually, not everyone does. In fact, there is a large minority of people whose wisdom teeth never grow in – about 35% of people.
What's interesting is that some scientists believe that humans may be evolving away from wisdom teeth. These third molars were useful at one time, when the human diet was much harder on the teeth and the teeth were more likely to shift. The shifting meant that by the time the wisdom teeth erupted, the human mouth had room for them. Today's healthier diets and improved dental care mean that teeth don't shift as much, so wisdom teeth mostly just get in the way. Soon, many fewer people may have to deal with wisdom teeth, because:
Science May Be Able to Eliminate Wisdom Teeth Entirely
Why wait for evolution to completely eliminate the growth of wisdom teeth if science can get rid of them right now? Some scientists are experimenting with various chemical and laser treatments, hoping to stop the growth of wisdom teeth before they erupt. This could mean fewer tooth impactions and extractions for dental patients.
Some researchers think that the answer may lie in an already commonly used drug – dental anesthesia. According to research out of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, children between the ages of two and six who have had anesthesia injected into their gums are less likely to develop wisdom teeth later. It's possible that something about dental anesthetic interrupts the growth of wisdom teeth. At some point, an injection of dental anesthetic into the gums might be as common as childhood vaccines, only the goal of this injection would be to prevent wisdom teeth from developing. However, that may not be the best idea, because:
Wisdom Teeth Can Create Stem Cells
An individual's stem cells can be grown into any type of cell in the human body, and they will be a perfect match for the individual that they came from. That means that they could be used to grow replacement organs or treat diseases. However, stem cells are also controversial, because many of them come from embryos. Thus, a lot of stem cell research is stymied. But what if they could be extracted from something non-controversial – even something that no one really wants, like wisdom teeth?
Now it seems that that's a possibility. Scientists in Japan have managed to retrieve stem cells from extracted wisdom teeth. Having such an easily accessible way to access stem cells may speed up research and result in new and exciting cures and treatments.
Chances are that you never knew that wisdom teeth could be so interesting. Talk to a dentist like those at Sundance Dental Care about the best way to handle your wisdom teeth when they come in.Share