If some people don’t have any wisdom teeth, and a lot of the rest of us are getting our wisdom teeth removed, does that mean that we don’t need them? And if that’s the case, why do we even have wisdom teeth at all?

At this point in human evolution, wisdom teeth are superfluous.

Our other molars – the first molars and second molars (a.k.a. the “six-year molars” & “12-year molars”) – are more than sufficient for accomplishing the chewing tasks that today’s average person faces.

Once upon a time, humans had to chew some pretty hard and coarse foods – such as roots, nuts, leaves and tough meat, among others. The third molars were helpful in getting those tasks done.

Over time our diets have evolved, and we’ve grown accustomed to eating softer and more refined foods.

Our jaws have also changed shape, becoming smaller with evolution.

That presents a problem, however, with the same number of teeth housed in the jaw. Something has got to give!