Why are They Called Wisdom Teeth?: Pain Relief & Removal 2023

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to develop in the human mouth. They typically appear during the late teenage years or early twenties. In this article, we will explore the origin of the term "wisdom teeth" and delve into the reasons behind their unique name.

Wisdom Teeth in Mouth

What are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars that grow at the back of the mouth, behind the second molars. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. However, it is not uncommon for some individuals to have fewer or even extra wisdom teeth.

Common Age of Eruption

The eruption of wisdom teeth varies from person to person. Generally, they start to emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. This period is often referred to as the "age of wisdom teeth" since it coincides with the transition into adulthood.

Why are They Called Wisdom Teeth?

The term "wisdom teeth" has an interesting historical background. It dates back to ancient times when people believed that these teeth appeared during the age when individuals gained wisdom and maturity. In several cultures, wisdom teeth were associated with the onset of adulthood and the ability to make wise decisions.

Relationship with Wisdom

The association between wisdom and the eruption of third molars is more symbolic than scientific. The name "wisdom teeth" implies a correlation between the growth of these teeth and the acquisition of wisdom. However, from a biological perspective, there is no direct link between the two.

Anatomy of Wisdom Teeth

To better understand wisdom teeth, let's explore their anatomy and their role in the mouth.

Structure and Location

Wisdom teeth are larger in size compared to other teeth in the mouth. They have more roots and a more complex structure. Due to their late development, there is often limited space in the jaw for these teeth to fully erupt. As a result, they can become impacted or partially erupt, causing various issues.

A wisdom teeth affecting another teeth

Learn What Can I Eat After Tooth Extraction

Role in the Mouth

In earlier human evolution, wisdom teeth served a functional purpose. Our ancestors had larger jaws and ate harder, coarser foods. The extra set of molars provided additional chewing power, aiding in the breakdown of tough foods. However, as our diets changed over time and our jaws became smaller, wisdom teeth became less necessary for chewing.

Problems Associated with Wisdom Teeth

While some individuals may have no issues with their wisdom teeth, many experience problems due to their late eruption and limited space in the jaw.

1. Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth occur when the teeth fail to emerge fully or grow at an angle. This can lead to various complications, such as pain, swelling, infection, and damage to adjacent teeth.

2. Pain and Discomfort

Partial eruption or impaction of wisdom teeth can cause significant pain and discomfort. The surrounding gums may become swollen, tender, and prone to infection. This discomfort often prompts individuals to seek dental attention.

3. Dental Complications

Wisdom teeth can also cause dental complications. Due to their position at the back of the mouth, they are difficult to clean properly, making them more susceptible to decay, gum disease, and cavities. Their presence can also exert pressure on adjacent teeth, leading to misalignment and crowding.

Wisdom Teeth Removal

Given the potential problems associated with wisdom teeth, dentists often recommend their extraction.

Reasons for Extraction

The primary reasons for wisdom teeth removal include preventing future dental issues, alleviating pain and discomfort, and addressing existing dental complications.

Surgical Procedure

The surgical procedure for wisdom teeth removal involves making an incision in the gum, extracting the tooth, and suturing the incision. In some cases, the tooth may need to be divided into sections for easier removal. The procedure is typically performed under local or general anesthesia.

A doctor removing a wisdom teeth from a woman

Recovery and Aftercare

Recovery from wisdom teeth extraction can take a few days to a week. During this time, it is important to follow post-operative instructions provided by the dentist, including maintaining good oral hygiene, avoiding hard and chewy foods, and taking prescribed pain medication, if necessary.

Myths and Misconceptions

Several myths and misconceptions surround wisdom teeth. Let's debunk a couple of them.

1. Wisdom Teeth and Intelligence

Contrary to popular belief, the presence or absence of wisdom teeth has no bearing on an individual's intelligence. The term "wisdom teeth" refers to their late eruption rather than any direct link to wisdom or intelligence.

2. Cultural Beliefs

In various cultures, wisdom teeth hold symbolic significance and are associated with rites of passage or cultural beliefs. However, these beliefs are steeped in tradition and folklore rather than scientific evidence.

Wisdom Teeth Removal Age

The age for wisdom teeth removal can vary depending on several factors, including the individual's oral health, the position and development of the wisdom teeth, and the recommendations of the dentist or oral surgeon. In general, wisdom teeth are often removed during the late teens to early twenties, typically between the ages of 17 and 25.

A red dressed girl smiling

See also: Dental Flipper Tooth: Benefits, Procedure, and Expert Tips 

At this age range, the roots of the wisdom teeth are not fully formed, making the extraction process relatively easier and less complicated. Additionally, younger individuals tend to heal faster and experience fewer post-operative complications. It is often recommended to remove wisdom teeth before they cause problems such as impaction, crowding, infection, or damage to neighboring teeth.

However, the decision to remove wisdom teeth is not solely based on age. Dentists and oral surgeons will evaluate each case individually, considering factors such as the position of the teeth, their impact on oral health, and the presence of any symptoms or potential complications. It's important to consult with a dental professional who can assess your specific situation and provide personalized recommendations regarding wisdom teeth removal.

Benefits of Wisdom Teeth Removal

Although not everyone requires wisdom teeth removal, there are several benefits associated with extraction.

1. Preventing Future Problems

By removing wisdom teeth proactively, individuals can prevent potential future dental issues. This includes avoiding the risk of impacted teeth, infections, and damage to adjacent teeth.

2. Oral Health Improvement

Extraction of wisdom teeth can contribute to improved overall oral health. By eliminating the presence of difficult-to-reach teeth, the risk of decay, gum disease, and oral infections decreases.

3. Aligning Teeth

In some cases, the extraction of wisdom teeth can help align the remaining teeth. By eliminating the pressure exerted by wisdom teeth, it may be possible to alleviate crowding and achieve a more harmonious bite.

Does Pineapple Juice Help with Wisdom Teeth?

While pineapple juice is a refreshing beverage and a good source of vitamins and minerals, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that it specifically helps with wisdom teeth. However, pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to aid in digestion.

two pineapples and pineapple juice jars

After wisdom teeth removal, it is common for the surrounding tissues to become inflamed, leading to discomfort and swelling. Some people believe that consuming pineapple juice, which contains bromelain, may help reduce inflammation and promote healing. However, the amount of bromelain in pineapple juice is relatively low, and its effectiveness in reducing post-operative inflammation is not well-established


Q: Why are they called wisdom teeth?

The term "wisdom teeth" originated from the belief that they appear during the age when individuals gain wisdom and maturity. However, this association is symbolic rather than scientific.

Q: Are wisdom teeth always removed?

No, not everyone requires wisdom teeth removal. It depends on various factors, including the positioning and potential problems associated with the teeth.

Q: At what age do wisdom teeth usually erupt?

Wisdom teeth typically start to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, although the exact timing can vary from person to person.

Q: Can wisdom teeth grow back after removal?

Once wisdom teeth are removed, they do not grow back. However, in rare cases, supernumerary or extra wisdom teeth may develop.

Q: How long does it take to recover from wisdom teeth removal?

Recovery from wisdom teeth removal can take a few days to a week, depending on the complexity of the extraction and individual healing factors.


Wisdom teeth, despite their unique name, are not directly linked to wisdom or intelligence. However, their late eruption and limited space in the jaw can lead to various dental issues. The extraction of wisdom teeth, when necessary, can prevent future problems and contribute to better oral health. Regular dental check-ups and maintaining good oral hygiene are essential for overall dental well-being.

Kavi Johnes

Hello, I'm Kavi Johnes, a medical officer and a Traveler. With a strong medical background, I'm dedicated to patient care while also being an avid writer. Join me on a journey to explore the intricacies of healthcare and stay informed on the latest wellness developments.

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