The Evolution Of Wisdom Teeth

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If you are between the ages of 17 and 25, it may be time to have your wisdom teeth removed. These third molars usually become impacted or only partially erupt, that latter of which can trap bacteria and make cleaning difficult. If wisdom teeth are left to remain in the mouth, they can cause problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, damage to neighboring teeth, or even create a cyst or tumor in the jaw. You may be asking yourself why we have wisdom teeth if they end up causing so many problems to oral health.

Hunter-Gatherer Diet

The reason we have third molars is because our ancestors did. Ancient, hunter-gatherer peoples ate roots, leaves, berries, nuts, and raw meat. These foods are tougher to chew, requiring more force. Luckily, our ancestors had not only a larger jaw, but wisdom teeth as well to grind these coarse foods down.

Food And Teeth Today

Wisdom teeth were necessary for hunter-gatherers, but not so much for people today. Agricultural products are a softer staple to our diet, plus we have the option to cook foods which softens them even more. We also have the benefit of forks, spoons, and other utensils that breaks food into smaller pieces, making them easier to chew.

Vestigial Teeth

Because of our modern diet, wisdom teeth have become vestigial. This means that they once had a necessary function, but no longer do. Our jaw bone has caught up to these changes, which is why it is often too small to have wisdom teeth fully erupt. Hence the reason we have wisdom teeth removal.