We’ve all gotten our wisdom teeth removed or at least heard of someone getting their wisdom teeth removed. Wisdom teeth surgery is typically a good excuse for lazing around the house for a couple days, eating copious amounts of ice cream and popping some pleasant pain relievers. But there are a few things about wisdom teeth surgeries that you might not know.
1) Wisdom teeth can produce stem cells – In 2008, Japanese researchers discovered that induced pluripotent stem cells could be harvested from wisdom teeth. This means that people who have their wisdom teeth extracted can choose to preserve their teeth in case they need the stem cells later in life. The discovery of pluripotent stem cells in wisdom teeth could also sidestep some of the ethical dilemmas around harvesting embryonic stem cells for research purposes. If the wisdom teeth stem cells can perform in the same way as embryonic stem cells, the ethical debate around stem cells could become an argument of the past.
2) Impacted wisdom teeth are an ancient problem – The oldest known impacted wisdom tooth belonged to an unfortunate European woman who lived roughly 15,000 years ago during the Magdalenian period (13,000-18,000 B.C.). The skeleton of the woman was first discovered in France in 1911 and acquired by the Field Museum in Chicago in 1926. For nearly 100 years, the skeleton was known as the “Magdalenian Girl” because her wisdom teeth had apparently not yet erupted. However, new analysis revealed that her wisdom teeth were actually impacted, meaning that they had stopped growing before they completely broke the surface of the gum line. The “Magdalenian Girl” was actually a Magdalenian woman with some pretty bad jaw pain.
3) Some people don’t have wisdom teeth – In fact, 35% of the population never develops wisdom teeth. Researchers have a number of theories as to why this may be the case. Some say that evolution may be the culprit. Humans simply don’t need the teeth for survival anymore. Other researchers see it as a cultural phenomenon which depends on how different cultures use their jaws. For instance, in parts of East Asia, it’s more common to find people without wisdom teeth.
For good or for bad, in 21st century Houston, wisdom teeth are a pretty regular find. If you’re worried about your wisdom teeth, contact Greenspoint Dental today for X-rays and suggestions on wisdom teeth extraction.