A change in diet by our ancestors thousands of years ago may be the reason for the painful effects of wisdom teeth, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals.
Researchers from the University of Kent, led by anthropologist Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, said that many dental problems can be traced back to when our ancestors decided to swap the hunter diet of tough meat for softer farm food.
The researchers said that the switch was responsible for changes in the structure of our faces and jaws and may be the cause for a number of dental problems including the painful wisdom teeth. While the number of teeth remains the same, the size of the jaw has become smaller as our ancestors had longer and narrower mandibles.
"The hunter-gatherer groups had longer and narrower mandibles, indicating more room for the teeth to erupt correctly, while the agriculturalists had generally shorter and broader mandibles, increasing the likelihood of dental crowding", von Cramon-Taubadel said.