Why Are They Called “Wisdom” Teeth?

When you’re sitting at home on a Saturday night with a bottle of ibuprofen in your hand and a frozen bag of peas on the side of your face, you likely are wishing that you’d been smarter in getting your wisdom tooth pulled sooner. Where does the term wisdom tooth derive from? We’ll answer that question and more after informing you on a few details about everyone’s favorite tooth.

In the field of dentistry, we call these teeth third molars as they’re the third molar back from the front of the face and also are the third molar to erupt. The molars love to follow a relatively predictable eruption pattern about every six years. Your original molars erupt about age six, your second molars about age 12, and your third molars about age 18 (even though the third molars have the most variation in age – from approximately 17 to 25).

The reason that wisdom teeth have the most notoriety (they’re more famous than the poor 2nd premolar) is because of the truth that so many have had them out. There are some various ideas as to the reason why we have third molars. A theory is that those teeth derive from an ancestor to modern-day human beings that featured larger jaws which had the ability to accommodate this additional tooth as the jaw reached adulthood.

One other theory is that we’d require that the tooth erupt in the past in order to replace a tooth we would’ve lost during development from overusing. Either way it’s a remnant of our past and these days it’s the most common tooth for the majority of us to be missing. If you happened to be born without a wisdom tooth you may have the ability to claim that you’re more evolved than the remainder of us, as it’s likely to be more common for all future generations to be missing the said tooth.

Therefore, why are wisdom teeth so wise? Where will its name derive from? Some people attribute the term to the Dutch that refer to it as “verstandskiezen,” or far standing tooth.

In addition, Verstand may be translated to the term wisdom or mind. Other people attribute the term to Latin writings that refer to the tooth as wisdom tooth or dens sapientiae. Our ancestors tended to see that teeth erupted (about 17 to 25 years of age) about the time that children gained wisdom and matured. Who gets credited for the original use of the term is difficult to know for certain.

While extracting wisdom teeth was, at one time, common place we currently only suggest that you have the wisdom teeth pulled if they have the possibility of causing harm and won’t harm you as we extract them. Be wise and speak with your dental professional to discover the status of your wisdom teeth before they lead to further problems down the road.

For more information contact the Winnipeg dental office of Markham Dental today!