The Purpose Of Wisdom Teeth May Lie In Earth's Past

If you are an adult living with a full set of teeth (including that extra set of four molars known as wisdom teeth), you should consider yourself lucky-- studies report that about 85 percent of humans alive today have been required by their dentist to have their wisdom teeth removed. Creating problems such as overcrowding and ultimately oral infections, the four extra latecomers often cause too much trouble for most individuals. While it's certainly a nice bonus to be able to avoid the surgery that many need to undergo, many people who need to have them removed often ask a very legitimate question: Why do wisdom teeth even exist in the first place? After all, if humans can eat all sorts of food without any trouble without of wisdom teeth, why do you even have them? That's a great question to ask, because in all actuality, present humans don't actually need their wisdom teeth for anything.

History Required Wisdom Teeth

If the humans of the present have absolutely no valuable use for wisdom teeth, the question becomes even more relevant: Why does the human species have the meaningless additions? The answer cannot be found in the present, but in Earth's past -- according to some researchers, over 20,000 years into the past. According to evolutionary scientists, early ancestors of humans would have had a much harder time chewing food than you currently do today.

Culinary science has improved greatly throughout the years, making it more likely than not that your food will be hot and fully cooked before it's delivered to your plate. In the early ages of civilization, however, scientists believe that chewy uncooked meats and hard items like nuts would not only have benefited from an extra set of teeth, but actually required them.

The Jaw and the Disappearing Wisdom Tooth

Within history and in the present world, the physical shape of the jaw seems to be the determining factor on who gets to keep their wisdom teeth. In the past, humans avoided the kind of pain that you may experience simply because their jaws were larger, allowing for more space and less crowding in the mouth.

For the scientists who believe strongly in evolution, further proof of our body's lack of need for the additional teeth is becoming more apparent: 35 percent of the current population are born without the pesky teeth at all. As the human jaw has become smaller, the body has begun the process of eliminating the teeth's presence in the body altogether -- a phenomenon that some scientists believe will become the norm in humanity's future.