Myth busting – why are they called wisdom teeth?

There are many words, phrases and sayings that we all happily recite, but few of us know where they came from and what caused them to be created. Wisdom teeth are a great example of this. We will know that the large teeth that emerge later in life at the back of our mouths are called wisdom teeth, but I expect very few of us know why they were given that name. Well, let CK Dental here is Bristol expand your knowledge in this area (and at the very least, give you a good answer to a pub quiz question).

These teeth are technically our ‘third molars’ and their nickname has been around for centuries. Back in the seventeenth century there are records of them being labelled ‘teeth of wisdom’ and this morphed into ‘wisdom teeth’ at some point during the nineteenth century. And what gave them this name?

“It is generally thought among linguists that they are called wisdom teeth because they appear so late, at an age when a person matures into adulthood and is “wiser” than when other teeth have erupted.”

Throw some science into the equation

The interesting thing is that there is now some science which sits behind this label. Tests carried out on the brain over many years of research have concluded that many people do not research emotional maturity during their adolescence, and that their brain continues developing well into our mid-twenties. This, coincidentally, is when a lot of us will start to see wisdom teeth arriving (although occasionally these can come through as early as the late teens), so maybe it really is true that as we begin to reach a more emotionally stable (and wise…?) time of our lies, this is when our wisdom teeth also join the party.

Wisdom teeth are actually pretty pointless

Despite their colloquial link to wisdom, there are actually few benefits brought by wisdom teeth. Often, they can cause discomfort and overcrowding and do not offer any practical benefits compared with before they arrived. If they do cause pain or problems to existing teeth, it is often recommended that they are removed. But, don’t be scared. At our Bristol dental clinic we are able to offer wisdom teeth removal under sedation or even under general anaesthetic, if required. Call 0117 906 4868 to arrange a consultation.