What’s the Deal with Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom Tooth Removal

Wisdom teeth removal is a rite of passage for many of us and there are many reasons why the modern human requires the removal of wisdom teeth. However, there are several reasons why the ancient human did not have to have the modern procedure that we perform on so many people in this day and age.

The Paleolithic Human

So let’s start from the beginning: the neanderthal human being. This historic human would often use his or her wisdom teeth to chomp down on particularly tough and gritty foods that your average, modern day human would not choose to eat. This method of consumption increased the size of the jaw, which subsequently allowed for more teeth to have room for eruption and be utilized for chewing purposes. Our modern day diet consists of several softer foods that are processed and don’t require the need to chew as vigorously, thus causing the jaw to not be as pronounced and wide as our ancestors.

Facial Structure

Our facial structure is the effect of a process in animal development named “neoteny”. Neoteny is when certain species or groups pick up traits that cause them to develop into adults, yet retain certain features of their child-like selves in the facial area. Our ancient ancestors had quite the large, pronounced jaw that would jut out and allow for several teeth to fill the space. It make seem like chimps have human-like faces, but in a actuality we have chimp-like faces!

Evolution

As we evolved, our teeth became crowded by the fact that our jaw was not expanding as far as before, and when we reach the ages of 18-20, our wisdom teeth start to poke through and cause some very painful problems. All in all, we kept the wisdom teeth gene and lost the large jaw development gene over time, thus causing a paradox where there’s simply not enough room to house the teeth comfortably.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and remember that it’s always important to know dental history to make the most of modern dentistry!

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