Wisdom Teeth: A Tale of Evolution

Jun 24, 2015Wisdom Teeth Removal

Humans have always had “wisdom teeth” or third molars. However, today the only time we think about wisdom teeth is when they need to be removed. But why do we have them? And why do they cause trouble for us today? Looking at our prehistoric ancestors can give us some clues.

Evolution of wisdom teeth

One hundred million years ago humans had protruding jaws. This meant that all of their 32 teeth fit comfortably in their mouths. But over millions of years, physical and cultural influences caused the jaw to change.

During this time, primitive people began creating tools, cooking utensils, and using fire. Fire meant that people could eat softer food, a stark contrast to the tough roots and raw meat that earlier generations ate. The new soft food diet eliminated the need and reliance on the third molar. Additionally, the human head became smaller while brain size increased, meaning there was less room in the jaw.

Today’s wisdom teeth problem

After millions of years of evolution, the human jaw has changed so much it typically doesn’t have adequate room for a third row of molars. Wisdom teeth now commonly get crowded in the back of the mouth, often crowding or shifting other teeth. This can be painful and interfere with expensive orthodontic work.

When  a  wisdom tooth grows in at an unusual angle or in an unexpected location, the tooth can become “impacted”.  This can be very painful and, and some cases, the impacted wisdom tooth can become infected because it is difficult to clean.

What to do about wisdom teeth

Because of the potential risks, many Salt Lake City dentists and orthodontists recommended  wisdom teeth removal before problems occur.

Wisdom teeth are the only teeth that develop after birth. 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. Salt Lake City dental professionals can take an X-ray of the mouth to determine how many wisdom teeth a person has. In some cases, people may only have one or two.

Wisdom teeth – a thing of the past?

Some lucky people are born without their third molars, so they will never need wisdom teeth removal. Others are born with only one or two. Could this mean that people in the future will be born without wisdom teeth at all? Experts say it is possible, but it may take millions of years to find out.

Do you need your wisdom teeth removed?

JBR Clinical Research is conducting a clinical research study for an investigational pain medication after wisdom teeth removal. You could receive wisdom teeth removal at no cost and may be compensated for time and travel. See if you qualify for this Salt Lake City wisdom teeth removal study here.

Translate »