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Why are Third Molars Called “Wisdom Teeth?”

Third molars have been referred to as “teeth of wisdom” since the 17th century and then changed to “wisdom teeth” in the 19th century. These molars appear much later than other teeth, often between the ages of 17 and 25. Linguists refer to third molars as wisdom teeth because they develop at the age that a person reaches adulthood.  They’re also perhaps a little “wiser” than when other teeth have developed. In recent years, science has confirmed that third molars actually do appear when a person is “wiser.” Research has demonstrated that the brain grows through adolescence.

Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Although wisdom are generally deemed useless and often need to be removed to keep the mouth in good condition, we still have them. One of the major theories for the development of wisdom teeth is that our ancestors needed an extra set of teeth to chew food.

Some people today don’t actually have wisdom teeth. According to John Hawks, PhD, assistant professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, this could be due to the reduction in the jaw and face over the last 20,000 years.

Common Issues with Wisdom Teeth

You may need  your wisdom teeth removed if you notice the following.

  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Infection (see a dentist immediately)
  • Adjacent teeth are sore or shifting
  • Red, swollen or sore gums
  • Cysts in the gums

Often times, there isn’t a sufficient amount of room for the wisdom teeth to erupt. This can lead to food getting caught between the space of the wisdom tooth and the gum.

If you’re in need of getting your wisdom teeth checked out, contact Lindner Dental today!