Thursday, May 04, 2017

The trouble with wisdom teeth

Forgot to post this last week: an article explaining why so many of us moderns need our wisdom teeth out:
Sarah Zhang: I’d like to begin with where your book ends, which is the modern scourge of impacted wisdom teeth. Our ancestors had wisdom teeth, they did not have dentists, and they did not have so many problems. Aside from possibly being over-diagnosed, why are impacted wisdom teeth a uniquely modern problem?

Peter Ungar: It’s a uniquely modern problem because we don’t grow our jaws long enough to accommodate our teeth. It turns out that nature has selected our jaw length on the basis of what it expects us to be doing during the period of time the jaw is growing. The more frequently you put force on the jaw, the longer the jaw grows. Nature has to guesstimate how long your jaw should be for teeth of a given size. Today we don't achieve that because we’re eating mush as kids.
I don't think my diet was particularly mushy, but these things are relative, I suppose...

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