Why are wisdom teeth called wisdom teeth?
If you get your wisdom teeth out, don’t worry! The dentist won’t be removing your good sense. The name for your third molars, a.k.a. your wisdom teeth, comes from when they show up in your mouth. Wisdom teeth typically appear around age 17 to 25, right about the time people become adults and begin to gain some – you guessed it! – wisdom. Wisdom teeth have been called that for hundreds of years, replacing an even earlier (and clunkier) name, teeth of wisdom.
The pesky thing about wisdom teeth? 9 out of 10 of people have at least one impacted. This happens when the tooth cannot grow in fully, often because of a lack of space. If impacted teeth are left in the mouth, they can harm the teeth next to them, become infected, or attract bacteria due to the difficulty of cleaning them well. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons recommends that you have wisdom teeth evaluated early on in their growth, when you’re a young adult. Best bet? Talk to your family dentist about it.
Of course you could get lucky… Not everyone has wisdom teeth! One estimate says that about 35% of the population is born without them.