It is a common misconception that teeth are bones because they are hard. This is not true. You might be wondering which type of anatomic structure are wisdom teeth. Let us solve this mystery for you.
Your teeth consist of hard components such as cementin and dentin. Other than that, they also have enamel and pulp. Together, these components make your teeth hard and stiff.
On the contrary, bones are made up of collagen. The similarity between these structures is that they contain calcium in some form. However, teeth are not bones.
Teeth are considered vestigial structures in the body.
What are vestigial structures?
A vestigial structure is the anatomic feature of your body that does not serve a purpose anymore. These structures or behaviors have important functions to perform at some point in time.
However, they have lost their function now, and they are of no use to the body. Wisdom teeth are vestigial because they have no purpose.
This is why you can get your wisdom teeth removed without there being a disruption in the normal behavior of the body.
A good example of a vestigial organ or structure is the wings of flightless birds. They are unable to fly, so there is no need for them to have wings. Yet, they still have wings.
Similarly, wisdom teeth are molars that are present at the farthest end of the mouth. For some people, they do not erupt ever, while for others, wisdom teeth do erupt and can be removed.
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Original Function of Wisdom Teeth
Just like any other vestigial structure, there is no information about the exact use of wisdom teeth back in the day. However, there are some guesses about the purpose of wisdom teeth.
Originally, our mouths used to be very big, and with evolution, the size of our mouth became smaller. As a result of that, no need was left for extra teeth.
Now that our mouths are smaller, there is not enough space for the extra teeth at the back, i.e. wisdom teeth. This is why they do not even erupt at times.
Another theory states that wisdom teeth used to be backup teeth for our existing teeth. If our current teeth fall off, then the wisdom teeth would erupt.
In today’s time, there is no such issue as our teeth do not fall out so often. The reason behind this is much better dental care, hygiene, and floss.
Current Function of Wisdom Teeth
There is no function of wisdom teeth anymore as they are not needed. They are actually painful now as there is no space for them in the mouth.
Wisdom teeth can end up damaging the other teeth by causing impaction, and that is why they are removed in most cases.
By now, you would have understood which type of anatomic structure are wisdom teeth. They serve no purpose, so if your wisdom teeth are erupting, a visit to your dentist is due.