What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Technically known as the third molars, 'wisdom teeth' have gained their name because of the fact that they are the last teeth to develop in humans; commonly in the late teens to mid twenties. Since they are the teeth that form last the person will be maturing or fully matured (or wise).
Most people have 4 wisdom teeth; 2 upper and 2 lower at the very back of the mouth behind the 'upper second and lower second'. Many people claim they do not have wisdom teeth but this is true in only 5-10% of adults, the majority of people do have them just they do not always erupt (break through the surface of the gum so they are visible)
There is no concrete proof of why humans develop wisdom teeth relatively late in comparison to the rest of our adult teeth but a popular theory is that it dates back to the stone ages.
A long time ago the human diet consisted primarily of very rough, tough food sources which meant the jaw was physically stronger and larger which meant the mouth could easily accomodate 4 extra teeth. Also taking into consideration that dental care simply didn't exist back so most people would lose teeth due to decay, wisdom teeth would push the other teeth forward to fill the gap left.
Function wise their use is exactly the same as the other molars in the mouth; to chew and grind food.
Why Do People Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
While it is correct that many people have their wisdom teeth form with no pain or discomfort (some people don't notice them at all!), it is not always that easy.
Due to the fact that wisdom teeth grow into a already very crowded jawline they often need to physically push the rest of the teeth forward to make room for themselves. This can cause a lot of pain for some people and can also lead to overcrowding or overlapping of the teeth which in the world of Hollywood actors with perfect smiles, is considered unsightly. Overcrowding of the mouth can also make it relatively difficult to maintain dental hygiene because it can be harder to get to all of the nooks and crannies due to the overlaps.
Wisdom teeth also have a habbit of growing at an angle therefore growing into the molars in front which can cause bleeding and infection. This is definitely a case to have them removed!
The short answer to this question is no. Some people have sufficent space for their wisdom teeth to grow and experience little to no discomfort.
However it is becoming more common for dentists to advise having them removed to prevent any potential problems from appearing in the future. This is mainly because it can be difficult to keep the area clean but also, because of their location they are a lot harder to perform dental work on should the need arise at any point which could lead to further complications.