As many folks know, the last adult teeth to come in are the four third molars, wayyyyy in the back corners of the upper and lower jaws. They generally erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. But why are they called “wisdom teeth”? Well, the Tung Brush and Gel team loves providing you with “fun facts” in addition to health and hygiene tips
At some point in the seventeenth century, people started to call third molars “teeth of wisdom”, and then more commonly “wisdom teeth” two hundred years later. The theory is that since the teeth didn’t come in until someone reached adulthood, they were “wiser” because they came in so much later than the other teeth. Since many scientists feel the brain continues to grow through adolescence, perhaps not reaching full maturity until the age of 25, maybe they really ARE “wisdom” teeth.
Interestingly enough, statistics show that 35% of us never develop wisdom teeth at all. Since they are not essential to the chewing process, it is perhaps a sign of evolution that they do not develop, and, interestingly enough, they are the only teeth that do not begin to develop in the womb!
However, for the remaining 65% of us, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that 85% of us will need all of our wisdom teeth to be extracted for a number of reasons, including being trapped in the jaw or under the gums (known as being “impacted”), or erupting in space that is crowded or insufficient for proper growth.
Since 90% of us will have at least one impacted wisdom tooth and they do not develop in the womb, scientists are looking into ways to prevent the development of wisdom teeth altogether.
So the question is…if they are so smart, why do wisdom teeth give so many people trouble?