There are a few notable signs and rituals that mark coming-of-age: puberty, your first pimple, your first party, your first heartbreak and… your first wisdom tooth. Does that mean age comes with wisdom?
Fun fact about the wisdom tooth: it is the last tooth many of us get as fully-fledged adults. It’s said that it grows in at the back of your mouth between the ages of 17 – 25, or the “age of wisdom”. Hence, its name!
But that notion is likely a myth. Guinness World Records says the oldest person to grow a wisdom tooth was 94 years old! There’s no telling when they’ll decide to erupt from your gums.
To many people who had the opportunity of growing a third molar, they know it is more of a problem than it is a symbol of wisdom. Sometimes they’re impacted, sometimes they come in at the wrong angle. We’ve all heard stories from people about pain from impacted wisdom teeth, and most of these stories end with having them removed surgically. Most of the time, it’s necessary to have them extracted. Not only can other teeth get damaged if your wisdom teeth come in crooked, but there’s also a heightened risk of gum infection and tooth decay. Cysts are also a possibility.
Some unfortunate people don’t even get just one wisdom tooth. It’s possible to get two, three, or even four, but there’s a lucky 35% of the entire population who are born without them.
But that begs plenty of questions: why do we have them? What was their original purpose? Are all erupting wisdom teeth painful? And if we do get them, do we have to get them pulled right away? You can find out the answers in this simple but highly informative infographic.