What is a wisdom tooth and where does it sit with its three "siblings"?
"If you want to show your wisdom teeth, you have to open your mouth wide"
In technical jargon, the wisdom tooth is called the third molar. It is the rearmost molar in the oral cavity. Normally, a third molar is already created in each of the four jaw areas (= dentition quadrants) of a person before birth. Thus every person should have four wisdom teeth, and one speaks of 32 teeth in human teeth. At the same time, many people's wisdom teeth have either not yet erupted or have already been removed.
On this page you will find the most important questions and answers on the subject of wisdom teeth.
Why do we have wisdom teeth?
The wisdom tooth is a relic from our ancestors. Their jaws were larger due to the different eating habits and the associated chewing behavior. At that time 32 teeth had enough space without any problems. Today, however, the jaws are smaller in relation to other parts of the face.
At a time when the diet consisted much more of raw meat, roots and leafy parts of plants, more chewing surfaces were needed. These third molars helped to grind the somewhat tough food and thereby make it more digestible. In today's society with refined foods and modern preparation techniques, these wisdom teeth are no longer necessary. In addition, there is the development of the skull and the jaw or the rows of teeth have developed separately from each other and thus the wisdom teeth now and again no longer find a place.
When do the wisdom teeth erupt?
The change of teeth to the adult set is initially completed with the eruption of the second molar. This usually happens around the age of 12. The stragglers of adult dentition tend to break through when you're in your late teens or early twenties, between the ages of 18-25. At the same time, wisdom teeth can also erupt much later. According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest person was 94 years old when a wisdom tooth erupted. There are also people in whom the third molars remain hidden under the gums for a lifetime . It is also not automatically given that four wisdom teeth are placed in the jaw of each of them. Not everyone has third molars. It can also be that there are only three, two or one instead of four.
Why is the third molar called the wisdom tooth?
The term wisdom tooth comes from the "advanced" age when the third molars pierce. To a certain extent, they are laggards in the development of the teeth. But the term can also be taken as ironic. For a long time there has been a discussion as to whether and to what extent the third molar is jointly responsible for a variety of diseases in the oral area. However, opinions differ. As a result, the “spirits” differ as to whether the wisdom teeth should be removed as a precaution or not.
Incidentally, the designation of the third molar also depends on the cultural environment. The Koreans refer to the third molars as "love teeth" because one experiences first love around the typical time of the breakthrough. Japanese uses the term "unknown to parents" because most people will have moved away from home by the time their wisdom teeth come.