In mainstream scientific thinking, wisdom teeth in humans are regarded as nothing more than unnecessary, evolutionary leftovers, useless remnants of mutation and natural selection. After the advent of agriculture over 10,000 years ago, soft human diets became more common, including carbohydrate and high energy foods. Friedman states that “at least two thirds of these extractions, associated costs, and injuries are unnecessary.”8 In fact, it is estimated that only around 12% of impacted wisdom teeth are associated with pathological conditions such as cyst and tumors.9 And along with wisdom tooth extractions comes some inherent risk involved, albeit low risk, of swelling, hemorrhage, TMJ injury, temporary/permanent paresthesia (numbness of the lip, tongue, or cheek), and jaw fractures, to name a few. A major conclusion of evolution is thatthe human jaw has shrunk from its much larger ape size to the smaller modernhuman size as humans evolved. Although approximately 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted every year in the United States alone,7 in many cases wisdom teeth are removed prophylactically, which means that they are taken out to prevent any future pathologic condition from developing. “Microevolution” is a thing. One hundred million years ago humans had protruding jaws. Once life had real, functional working teeth, the theory is they existed for eons as “simple pointed structures that could be used to capture and immobilize prey and to scrape, pry, grasp and nip all manner of living things.” We observe the traits of attrition and larger jaws not only in people who lived prior to the 18th century, but also in certain modern subpopulations that still depend on a nonmodern diet for their everyday sustenance. It is stated that at one time in our alleged evolution we had more room in our mouths. And, of course, humans are replete with useless vestigial structures—a distinctive sign of our evolutionary ancestry—such as wisdom teeth, male nipples, body hair, the appendix and the coccyx.1. Humans have always had “wisdom teeth” or third molars. The complete disappearance of third molars in some cases may indeed be an example of recent evolution, in which people lacking wisdom teeth didn't face dental crowding issues and weren't at a chewing disadvantage because their diets had softened. Please refresh the page and try again. In conclusion, it has been shown that preindustrial (and some modern) populations with a more primitive diet did have functional wisdom teeth and that a processed regimen of food and the lessening of chewing forces is largely responsible for the decrease in attrition and reduction of jaw size. Your newsletter signup did not work out. The study we referred to earlier concluded that the absence of wisdom teeth is a result of evolution. Evolution of wisdom teeth One hundred million years ago humans had protruding jaws. This can be painful and interfere with expensive orthodontic work. Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress. – not enough room to erupt. Wisdom teeth do have a function. But they form very late compared to our other teeth. Even in contemporary people who have generally smaller jaws and less wear, the wisdom tooth problem seems to be grossly overstated. However, the most satisfactory and easily shown explanation is that many of the issues with wisdom teeth can be traced back to the human diet and the utilization of teeth in preindustrial populations. Currently, less than 2% of adults over 65 teeth have managed to keep their wisdom teeth without them leading to cavities or gum disease according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Try downloading another browser like Chrome or Firefox. And does this imply a poor design by the Creator? Also, using cutlery to chop up food can remove the need for lots of chewing. This meant that all of their 32 teeth fit comfortably in their mouths. It also has been suggested … They’re the last teeth to come into place, and having them was helpful to our early ancestors who ate tough, uncooked foods that wore away their teeth. Whether you happen to be one of the few blessed people that never got any, whether they came in straight or whether you had them extracted, those old enough can all relate to them on some level. The attrition of the teeth and the resultant growth and development of the jaws both combine to create a larger dental space for all the molars, making wisdom teeth not only useful and advantageous, but also necessary for individuals to withstand the harsh demands placed upon the dental system in preindustrial times. Once Teeth Existed, Evolution Could Take Off! If you're ever stuck at a party with nothing to talk about, you might mention that you're having your wisdom teeth taken out. See if you qualify for this Salt Lake City wisdom teeth removal study here. So, while many wisdom teeth do indeed have to be extracted for legitimate reasons, the problem is not as immense as the number of extractions would suggest. In short, evolution has produced ‘an increase in brain size at the expense of jaw size.’1In the process, the jaw has became too small for the last teeth to erupt which are normally the third molars, often called wisdom teeth. A new study published in the Journal of Anatomy found that humans are increasingly being born without wisdom teeth. In some cases, people may only have one or two. But over millions of years, physical and cultural influences caused the jaw to change. You're almost done! These studies, though, don't explain why some people don't have wisdom teeth. An AncestryDNA® test can tell you what some of your DNA suggests about whether all of your wisdom teeth will come in or not.

Purpose of Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth had a purpose for our ancestors. Prior to this, every indication is that there were few to no issues with wisdom teeth.2 Various theories have attempted to explain this fact. Wisdom Teeth: Are they Leftovers from Evolution? Removal of wisdom teeth has become commonplace in western countries. That impaction/disorders are increasingly frequent in today’s world implies nothing about the supposed evolution of humans from primates or a supposed poor design. Wisdom teeth help to grind down food, using their flat surface. What are you familiar with concerning the history of wisdom teeth? Prior to this, every indication is that there were few to no issues with wisdom teeth.2Various theories have attempted to explain this fact. They ate a lot of tough roots and vegetables that were hard to chew. Each of our teeth has a mathematical formula that guides its growth, which gradually changes as humans evolve, according to a recent study in … Since the teeth are not present at the time of birth, it is difficult  to predict if they will propose a problem later in life. Terms of Service apply. And it’s happening as we speak. Others are born with only one or two. . Most people know wisdom teeth as those back molars that have to be taken out during high school or college. If this reduction progresses far enough, it actually creates more space in the dental arch, space that can allow for wisdom teeth to erupt normally and function like any other molar. Thank you for signing up to receive email newsletters from Answers in Genesis. In fact, the scientific consensus is that wisdom teeth have a chewing function just like all the others and that there is no scientific justification for the belief that they serve no purpose. 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