Advertisement

Are wisdom teeth vestigial organs?

Wisdom teeth are considered a vestigial organ -- no longer useful -- because our diet has evolved. Early humans ate a mostly raw diet of foraged plants and hunted animals, which required a lot of rough chewing. That wore down their teeth. By the time wisdom teeth, the last molars, erupted between ages 17 and 25, their other molars and teeth had worn down, allowing room for the wisdom tooth to come in. With the introduction of cooking, our food got noticeably softer and our teeth remain in good shape. Also, modern orthodonture helps us keep a well-rounded mouth structure. As a result, there often is not enough room for wisdom teeth to erupt without damaging the other teeth, or else they may become impacted when they start to erupt and need to be removed.
When our ancestors ate leafy plants, as well as a tough diet of roots and raw eat, they needed more room to chew their food.

As time went on our diets became softer, we developed ways to cook our food to make it easier to eat and our jaws became smaller.

As our jaw evolved, it became too small to easily accommodate our wisdom teeth, which are also known as our third molars.

Continue Learning about Wisdom Teeth

Are wisdom teeth becoming obsolete?
Todd A. Welch, DMDTodd A. Welch, DMD
There was a time when our jaws could comfortably accommodate all 32 teeth, including the third molar...
More Answers
Is there a downside to removing wisdom teeth?
RealAgeRealAge
After your wisdom teeth are removed you will probably experience some pain and discomfort. Wisdo...
More Answers
Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?
American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
Wisdom teeth that are healthy and properly positioned can be an asset. Commonly, however, wisdom...
More Answers
Who makes the decision whether wisdom teeth should be extracted?
Dr. Supriya VermaDr. Supriya Verma
A Dentist or Oral Surgeon can help you understand the pros and cons of taking out your wisdom teeth....
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.