Wisdom teeth

Posted by watchmen
February 1, 2024


Dr. Joseph D. Lim

They don’t necessarily mean more intelligence, and yet they are called wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth emerge between the ages of 17 and 25, when one is older and — supposedly — wiser.

The third set of molars located at the back of the mouth are the last of the 32 permanent teeth to appear. While they may be smaller sometimes, wisdom teeth are similar in appearance to the first and second molars.

In one among four people, one (out of three) wisdom tooth doesn’t emerge at all. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, one in each of the four quadrants, although it is possible to have none, fewer, or more (the extra wisdom teeth are called supernumerary teeth).

If there is not enough space, wisdom teeth may become stuck or impacted on other teeth. Many people too have impacted wisdom tooth when it emerges only partially, part of it inside the jawbone.

Impacted wisdom teeth are commonly extracted to treat or prevent oral health issues or when they cause pain, tooth decay or inflammation of the gums.

If they don’t seem to be that all important in chewing food, why do humans have wisdom teeth?

If you must know, chimpanzees, gorillas and monkeys also have wisdom teeth.

Millennia ago, our ancestors had larger jaws and teeth than we have today. Our ancestors called Australopithecus afarensis who lived three million to four million years ago had larger and thicker teeth and jaws than we have today. Their big molar teeth show they were powerful masticators.

Early humans needed strong chewing muscles to masticate raw meat and plants at a time when cooking may not be around that much and soft, cooked foods were not common.

Soft foods started appearing with cooking.



Dr. Joseph D. Lim, Ed. D., is the former Associate Dean of the College of Dentistry, University of the East; former Dean, College of Dentistry, National University; Past President and Honorary Fellow of the Asian Oral Implant Academy; Honorary Fellow of the Japan College of Oral Implantologists; Honorary Life Member of the Thai Association of Dental Implantology; and Founding Chairman of the Philippine College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail jdlim2008@gmail.com or text 0917-8591515.



Dr. Kenneth Lester Lim, BS-MMG, DDM, MSc-OI, graduated Doctor of Dental Medicine, University of the Philippines, College of Dentistry, Manila, 2011; Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management, De La Salle University, Manila, 2002; and Master of Science (MSc.) in Oral Implantology, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, 2019. He is an Associate Professor; Fellow, International Congress of Oral Implantologists; Member, American Academy of Implant Dentistry and Fellow, Philippine College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail limdentalcenter@gmail.com./WDJ

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