The 'Wisdom' behind Wisdom Teeth.

Updated: Dec 18, 2018

100 million years ago, prehistoric man’s jaw was comfortably large enough to accommodate all 32 teeth, including the wisdom teeth – the third molars.  Early man’s jaws were larger and more prominent because their teeth played a key role in their survival.  Having the third molars helped with things such as the tearing of meat and were an extra back up if any of the other molars were lost.  Remember, they couldn’t visit the dentist in those days!


As we have evolved over time into the modern day man we are today, our jaws have shrunk, meaning we lack space for these wisdom teeth.  As a result they can often become impacted ‘coming in sideways’, causing pain and discomfort.


As this point your dentist will invariably have them taken out.  This can be done in the dental chair, or in some cases, you will need to be referred to the hospital for surgical removal.


Evolution has come so far in fact that many people never get their wisdom teeth.  Some studies suggest as many as 35% of the population no longer get their wisdom teeth at all and some say one day they may disappear altogether!


But why are they called ‘wisdom’ teeth’?


Wisdom teeth have been referred to as such since the nineteenth century and it is generally believed they are so called due to the age at which they develop.  When a person reaches adulthood, usually between the ages of 17-25 is the most common age for these teeth to appear.  Therefore, the suggestion is the person is ‘wiser’ by the time these teeth appear.


If you are one of the people that never develop their wisdom teeth, then lucky you!  You may never need to suffer from the discomfort that can so often accompany them.    One final thought though….. Does this mean you are never wise?!   I write this last question sat here smugly knowing that all four of mine had to be removed surgically, due to being severely impacted; therefore surely I represent one of the ‘wisest’ people I know!


For further information or advice contact College Street Dental Centre in Petersfield, Hampshire on 01730 263180

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