The Evolutionary Reason for Wisdom Teeth

dentist holding a molarIf you are over the age of 20, there’s a good chance that you no longer have your wisdom teeth. Almost everyone will need to have their wisdom teeth removed, so why do we even get them in the first place? You may be surprised to know that they once served an evolutionary purpose.

Our Early Ancestors Needed Wisdom Teeth

In our caveman days, we didn’t have forks and knives to cut up our food, and we couldn’t even cook meat. Because early humans needed to chew coarse, hearty foods, they required a broader jaw. Wisdom teeth grew in to give them more chewing power for this purpose. Because the jaw was wider, the wisdom teeth were able to grow in with no difficulties.

Our Eating Habits Changed

These days, most of the food we eat is cut up and cooked, making it easy to chew. These new eating habits caused our jaw to narrow, leaving no room for wisdom teeth.

Smaller Jawbones

Over time, our jawbones have evolved to be much smaller, meaning that all 32 teeth can no longer fit in our mouths. For this reason, wisdom teeth now need to be extracted when they erupt – usually when you are between 17 and 21. These teeth can become impacted and cause many issues, especially because they are so far back in the mouth that adequately cleaning them can be a problem, even if they grow in with no issues.

If you need your wisdom teeth extracted, visit our oral surgeon near Chicago. Make an appointment today for your consultation.