How Did the Wisdom Teeth Get its Name?

If you are seventeen and some of your teeth are giving you trouble and endless pain, don’t worry and bear it as it is a sign you have attained your wisdom! These are the third molars which were called the ‘teeth of wisdom’ and simply wisdom teeth from the eighteenth century.

Anthropologist believe that the wisdom teeth or the third set of molars were the answer to the coarse and rough diet like leaves, nuts and meats of our ancestors. Since it required a lot of chewing power, it resulted in wearing of the teeth. Spoons, knives and canned food has made the use of wisdom teeth nonexistent. Hence, they are classified as vestigial organs (body parts that have become functionless due to evolution) by evolutionary scientists.

The term Wisdom Teeth comes from a mistranslation of the Dutch word for these teeth, ‘verstandskiezen’, literally ‘far-standing-molars’, referring to the fact that they are located at the back of the mouth. In Dutch, such compound words are contracted, (written without the spaces) leaving the first part of the word as ‘verstand’ which can correctly be translated as ‘wisdom’ or ‘understanding’, in English.

However in different languages it is expressed differently but it is all related to wisdom. Examples:

1. Turkish refers directly to the age at which wisdom teeth appear and calls it ’20 yaş dişi’ (20th year tooth).
2. In Korean, its name is ‘Sa-rang-nee’ referring to young adulthood and the pain of first love.
3. In Japanese, its name is ‘Oyashirazu’, literally meaning “unknown to the parents,” from the idea that they erupt after a child has moved away.
4. The Indonesian term ‘gigi bungsu’ refers to bungsu, meaning “youngest child”, because the teeth erupt so much later than the others, implying that the teeth are “younger” than the rest.
5. In Thailand, the wisdom tooth is described as ‘fan-khut’ (ฟันคุด) or “huddling tooth,” due to the shortage of space for each one.

As Today’s eating habits and the modern dentistry has increased the pressure on out teeth, it is not giving enough space to wisdom teeth grow and accommodate them.

There are three categories of wisdom teeth:

1. Erupted: The wisdom teeth are fully erupted, aligned properly with your molars and do not indicate any need for removal.
2. Partially Erupted: The wisdom teeth are positioned so that only a portion of the teeth is visible.
3. Unerupted (Impacted): The wisdom teeth are trapped in the jawbone and unable to erupt.

If you are thinking of extracting your wisdom teeth, it is always better to get them removed until the roots are two thirds developed. The chances of developing complications are less during this stage.

So once you get your wisdoms, it means that your carefree days as a child are over and now it is time for you take responsibility!


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