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Wisdom teeth: not evidence for human evolution

06 Mar, 201901:01

Some people have claimed that our third molars—commonly referred to as wisdom teeth—often cause trouble in modern humans because our mouths are smaller than our supposed evolutionary ancestors.
However, impacted wisdom teeth don’t afflict all ethnic groups. Numerous people groups today have plenty of room in their jaws to accommodate their third molars. Modern dental research has shown that diet is a major factor in jaw development. In non-technological cultures, impacted wisdom teeth are almost unknown. Their tougher diet exercises their jaw muscles more, and this helps their jaws develop properly. The tougher diet also results in tooth wear, and the normal compensation for this wear involves the gradual migration of teeth towards the front of the mouth—thus creating more room for the third molars. However, the modern diet of soft, processed foods does not promote proper jaw development, which can lead to impacted wisdom teeth. So impacted wisdom teeth do not support evolutionary storytelling.

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