You’ve probably heard before that your teeth are the hardest structure in your body. This is why fossil records often find teeth more intact than the rest of the bones in the body. This has led to the common misconstruction that teeth are bones. This is not exactly the case.
What Are Teeth Made Of?
Teeth are made of Enamel, Dentin, Pulp, and Cementin. These are the layers of your teeth. Enamel is the outermost protective layer of your teeth. It is made of calcium phosphate. Our bones have this same compound in them which is why they are similar but not the same. This outer layer of our teeth is made solely of this compound giving them their hard, rigid structure. Bones have more collagen because if they were as hard as our teeth they would be too brittle.
The next layer, dentin, is a hard tissue. This tissue has small microscopic tubes within in it that allow us to sense temperature through our teeth. When we have a tooth where the enamel has been eroded we can feel temperature changes much more strongly and often as pain.
Pulp and Cementum
The pulp and cementum are the next layers. The pulp is a soft inner layer in which resides in the blood vessels and nerves. This is where you can feel the pain from a cavity or in the case of a “sweet tooth” when you breathe in on a cold day.
The cementum is the layer of roots that grounds your teeth to your gums. These roots go down through your gums and actually bind the tooth to your jawbone.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Different?
Wisdom teeth are a special type of structure called a vestigial structure. It’s interesting to note that our tail bone is also a vestigial structure. These are anatomical parts of our body that still exist but no longer serve a purpose. Our tailbone was the start of our ancestors’ tails. As we evolved and learned to walk the trail became less useful but its remnants are still within our bodies.
What Was The Purpose of Wisdom Teeth?
Again this harkens back to our ancestors. As we Humans evolved over time, the size of our mouths has shrunk. It is believed that the reason we have wisdom teeth is that as our mouths shrank, the number of teeth we have remained constant so there’s just no room for those teeth to grow in to.
Another theory is that wisdom were more of a backup if our current teeth were to fall out. This was a much more prevalent issue back before toothpaste, floss, and dental hygiene as a concept became a thing.
What Do Wisdom Teeth Do Now?
Now wisdom teeth don’t really serve a purpose. They can actually be more of a problem than something helpful because sometimes they start trying to force their way down when there is no room left in the person’s mouth. When this happens it can cause an impaction which in turn damages the other teeth they are trying to force out.
How Do I Know If My Wisdom Teeth Need To Be Removed?
There are a few symptoms that are associated with the necessity to have your wisdom teeth removed. These range from sensitivity in the gum area, bad breath, earache, and headache to name a few. It is important to have these issues checked out by your dentist or your doctor who can refer you to a dentist if the issue is your wisdom teeth.
It’s curious to note headache and earache are listed in the symptoms for your wisdom teeth. This is because your sinuses are all connected from your ears to your mouth to your temple. Your sinuses are small cavities in those regions. Because of their interconnectivity, a problem in one area can lead to symptoms in another area. This is why it is important to have any issues checked out by a professional and not try to diagnose the problem yourself.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
The extraction of wisdom teeth will be done by an oral surgeon. In some cases, this could be your dentist. In most cases, a small incision will be made in your gum to allow access to the wisdom tooth or teeth. Before this, however, a local anesthetic will be applied.
If you are getting all your wisdom teeth removed the oral surgeon may recommend general anesthesia to keep you under for the entire process. Either way, the process will not start until the surgeon or anesthesiologist has verified the effectiveness of the anesthesia.
If the tooth is starting to come through the gum line, an incision may not be necessary but anesthesia will still be applied for the process. The tooth may need to be cut into smaller pieces in order for it to be removed during the process. You will likely feel some pressure as the tooth is being removed but if at any point you feel pain let your surgeon know so that the anesthesia can be reapplied. Once the tooth is out the incision will be stitched back up with dissolvable stitches.
Are There Any Complications With Removing Wisdom Teeth?
As with any surgery, there is the possibility of infection even if small. If your wisdom teeth are being removed due to an infection that was occurring an antibiotic will likely be prescribed to prevent the infection from spreading further now that you are healing in that area. In most cases, the incision will heal in a few days and the stitches will dissolve in a little over a week.
What Other Of Vestigial Anatomy Do We Have?
The tailbone which was mentioned earlier is the most well-known vestigial anatomy that we have. Another common problem, from a vestigial organ, is the appendix. This organ is a small pouch near the small intestine.
It is believed that it was used to store good bacteria that could be released after an illness has run its course. With modern medicine and other hygiene practices, this has become less useful. Another vestigial anatomy we have is goosebumps. Not the bumps themselves but the arrector pili muscles which pull the hairs tight and cause the goosebumps.
These are activated by our sympathetic nervous system, our response to stressful situations. This would have been useful to our ancestors before language was developed to alert others in the area that someone’s flight or fight response has been activated. Now we seem to mostly get them when we are cold even though we usually have shelter nearby.