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Why are wisdom teeth called wisdom teeth?

Sep 20, 2023Oral health, oral surgery

Why are wisdom teeth called wisdom teeth?

The final set of molars that emerge in humans, commonly known as Wisdom Teeth, are believed to be so named due to their appearance during the maturity phase, widely considered to be a period of increased wisdom. The extraction of wisdom teeth is a common procedure as they tend to be impacted and fail to fully emerge or are prone to infection, posing the risk of infecting neighboring teeth. However, the removal of wisdom teeth is only necessary if they are not fully erupted or causing other dental complications. Fully emerged and asymptomatic wisdom teeth do not warrant extraction.

Within the field of dentistry, the teeth located third in line from the front of the face are commonly known as third molars. Since the seventeenth century, these particular molars have been referred to as teeth of wisdom, while in the nineteenth century they were commonly known as wisdom teeth.

The emergence of third molars takes place at a later stage as compared to other teeth, commonly during an individual’s developmental years between 17 and 25. It is widely believed that the eruption of third molars coincides with a person’s progression towards adulthood, hence, they are deemed as symbols of wisdom emerging after the other teeth have already emerged.

The widespread popularity of wisdom teeth removal can be attributed to the fact that a considerable number of individuals have undergone this procedure.

Several theories exist regarding the purpose of our third molars:

  • According to a popular theory, the additional tooth found in some individuals can be attributed to their evolutionary ancestors who possessed elongated jaws capable of accommodating this extra dental feature as the jaw matured.
  • An alternative theory proposes that the emergence of this particular tooth in our evolutionary history was necessary to replace a tooth that would have been lost due to excessive wear and tear during development.

In present times, it is prevalent among the majority of individuals to have a missing tooth in their oral cavity.


Why are wisdom teeth removed?

It is a common practice to extract wisdom teeth, even when there are no signs of infections. These molars tend to crowd the mouth during their emergence, which can cause damage or displacement to other teeth. As a precautionary measure against potential pain in the future, your dentist may advise you to opt for their removal as soon as they start appearing.

It is common for dentists to suggest the extraction of wisdom teeth prior to commencing orthodontic procedures, such as braces. This measure is taken to prevent the emergence of these teeth at a later stage which can potentially reverse the progress made in aligning your jaw and teeth.

It is advisable for adolescents to undergo an assessment for the extraction of their wisdom teeth. It has been observed that individuals who opt for this procedure at a younger age show more efficient healing tendencies, as the roots and bone development are not yet fully established. This preventive measure can help preclude any probable complications before they arise.

When considering the removal of teeth, it is imperative to acknowledge the potential risks inherent in any surgery. Thus, it is advised to extensively inquire about the procedure before making a decision. It is crucial to closely monitor the wisdom teeth if one chooses not to have them extracted. These molars tend to aggravate and worsen with the passing time. Your dentist should keep a watchful eye on them to prevent any complications.

Both a qualified dentist and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon possess the expertise to extract your wisdom teeth. Prior to surgery, they will provide comprehensive guidance on how to prepare for the procedure, as well as detailed instructions regarding post-operative care and recovery.

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