Chances are, at some point during your teens or early twenties, you got a dental surprise: four new molars! Why do we get new teeth at such a late age, why do most people get them pulled, and – perhaps most intriguingly – why are they called wisdom teeth?
The Timing of Wisdom Teeth
A lot of people wonder why these molars come in when we are well past our childhood years. The simplest answer is the most obvious one – teeth follow an organized schedule, with the first molar appearing around age 6, and the second around age 12. Wisdom teeth are simply the third molar, and so they are the last to erupt, appearing at some point during adolescence.
Why Get Them Pulled?
Wisdom teeth are notoriously problematic, coming in at all sorts of strange angles that, for many people, threaten to undo years (and thousands of dollars’ worth) of orthodontic work. Because there’s rarely room for these extra molars, they can become impacted, or blocked, by the other teeth. And if the molar only partially erupts, food can get trapped in the surrounding tissue, which can lead to a possible infection.
Even wisdom teeth that never appear can cause problems. They can crowd or displace the other teeth, and rarely, a cyst can form in the tissue surrounding the tooth. These can cause bone destruction, damage to other teeth, or jaw expansion. Yikes!
Because of how few wisdom teeth actually come in and function properly, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons has estimated that roughly 85 percent of wisdom teeth will need to be removed eventually.
Are They Really Wise?
The story about the name “wisdom tooth” comes from the idea that these teeth come in once people are older and wiser. They have been known as the “teeth of wisdom” since the 17th century, and as “wisdom teeth” since the 19th century.
This is actually true, at least in theory; research suggests that the human brain doesn’t reach full maturity until age 25, so perhaps the appearance of wisdom teeth is a sign that one has left the unwise days of their youth behind and is ready to become a responsible adult!
Trouble with Wisdom Teeth? Call Barganier & LeCroy!
We’re extremely experienced with wisdom tooth extractions and can make sure that your procedure goes as smoothly as possible. We’re also available for any post-operative questions or concerns. Contact us today for more information on removing wisdom teeth!