Wisdom teeth: The surprising reason why humans have them

The reason we have wisdom teeth is related to the long process of human evolution.

why humans have wisdom teeth
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why humans have wisdom teeth

Everyone has a different experience with their wisdom teeth. You might be worried about your wisdom teeth, and get them removed. Or maybe you're fine keeping your wisdom teeth and don't suffer any dental issue.

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But it's worth asking, why do we have wisdom teeth at all? To begin with, many a times, getting wisdom teeth is a painful ordeal. On the other hand, many of us don't even keep them on afterwards.

Then why does the human body have wisdom teeth? Here's the answer from Cleveland Clinic.

Where are wisdom teeth located?

Usually there are 4 wisdom teeth, which are located at the very back of your mouth. They are at the very end, behind the second molars.

As per Cleveland Clinic, a study found that 53% of the population has at least one wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth usually grows in between the ages of 17 and 25, but some people might never get a wisdom tooth at all.

Wisdom teeth are 'vestigial' or unnecessary features of our bodies Jonathan Borba

The eruption of wisdom teeth can be painful with people experiencing redness or swelling in the gums, facial pain and sometimes white flecks appearing behind the last molars, which are the tops of the new tooth erupting.

The report explains that even though wisdom teeth that erupts at the right spot can provide support to our jaw and back of the mouth, it's not enough to make a huge difference.

Why do humans have wisdom teeth?

As Cleveland Clinic explains, wisdom teeth are a kind of 'vestigial' or unnecessary feature of our bodies. Functionally, wisdom teeth don’t seem to provide much utility, as they're without a lot of biting or chewing force. Once these are removed, often, people don't need to replace them.

Then why do we even have these teeth? The reason we have wisdom teeth can be traced back as a residual feature of human evolution.

The diet of our ancestors consisted of a lot of raw plants, hard nuts and tough meats. In order to properly digest these foods, wisdom teeth provided support to grind them properly.

As the foods homo sapiens eat changed, so did our bodies, with our jaws becoming smaller. This means there was less room for wisdom teeth to develop. So it stopped being of use, unlike for the prehistoric humans.

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Sources used:

Cleveland Clinic: ' Wisdom Teeth'

Wisdom teeth: This is why some people don't need them removed Wisdom teeth: This is why some people don't need them removed