The third molars, also known as wisdom teeth, usually emerge much later than other teeth at the age of 17 to 25 years as a person transitions into adulthood.
The term “wisdom” has been associated with these teeth since the seventeenth century when they were referred to as “teeth of wisdom”. The term “wisdom teeth” was introduced in the nineteenth century, and has stuck since.
So, Why Do We Call Them “Wisdom” Teeth?
The name is mostly attributed to the time when third molars begin to emerge, as you transition from adolescence to adulthood. It is expected that with age, and more specifically, adulthood, you become more mature and hopefully wiser.
Recently, studies have corroborated the idea of wisdom teeth emerging when the person is “wiser”. According to a new study, scientists discovered that the brain continues to grow and develop through adolescence. Other researchers agree that the brain continues to develop until the age of 25, when it reaches full maturity.
So, it makes sense to refer to the third molars as wisdom teeth, as teenagers are ushered into the responsibilities of adulthood. Unfortunately, this is not always a joyous period, especially when you have to deal with the agony of an infected or impacted wisdom tooth.
Why Do We Have Our Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
Dr. Sally offers wisdom tooth removal in Hollywood.
The development of a third set of molars is believed to be an evolutionary response to the diets and chewing habits of early man. Living as hunters and gatherers, their diets comprised hard, rough foods that caused substantial damage and wear to their teeth over time. To improve chewing function, it is possible that the human body evolved and introduced a third set of molars.
But modern diets are different, and the wisdom teeth are not that essential. Some adults don’t even have wisdom teeth, and they live perfectly normal and healthy lives.
When wisdom teeth come in without causing problems with adjacent teeth, they don’t have to be removed. However, they still pose a threat with regard to maintaining proper oral hygiene, as food debris can hide between the wisdom tooth and adjacent molar, where it is hard to keep clean. In such cases, they may need to be removed.
Another reason to remove wisdom teeth is when they fail to erupt from the gums – where they are said to be impacted. Soft tissue impaction occurs when the tooth is stuck below the soft tissue, and may erupt much later; while a bony impaction refers to a tooth that is partially or fully obstructed by the jaw bone, meaning that it won’t erupt.
Impacted wisdom teeth should be extracted because they increase the risk for infections by creating pockets where bacteria can hide. They may also interfere with the health or organization of other teeth.
When you begin to experience problems with your wisdom teeth, it is best to consult your dentist on how to remedy the situation before it becomes a lot worse.
See also: How to Prevent Dry Socket After Wisdom Tooth Removal.