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Wisdom Teeth: Fascinating Facts You May Not Know

You may know a bit about wisdom teeth, particularly if you or your child has to have them removed, but you may not know these fascinating facts about your third molars:

  • The third molars are called wisdom teeth because you usually get them when you are older (between 17 and 22) when it is assumed that you’ve gained some wisdom. But they can come in at any age. Some people get them as young as 10, and adults have developed impacted wisdom teeth in their 70s and beyond. Unfortunately, the older you are, the harder wisdom teeth are to remove.
  • The oldest known evidence of an impacted wisdom tooth was found in the remains of a woman who died over 15,000 years ago.
  • Some people only get between 1-3 wisdom teeth rather than the standard four. In rare cases, an individual may develop more than four wisdom teeth.
  • Playing the odds with wisdom teeth isn’t in your best interests. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, only 15% of wisdom teeth do not need removal. Wisdom teeth extraction is simpler and less painful if you remove them before they become impacted.
  • Wisdom teeth are an excellent source of stem cells that can be used to regenerate tissue and aid in healing various parts of the body. Research currently focuses on ways to use these stem cells for ophthalmological and neurological treatments.

 Environment and ethnicity have some effect on the development of wisdom teeth. Individuals of Asian descent and the Inuit are least likely to have wisdom teeth.

  • Wisdom teeth are the only teeth that develop after birth. All other teeth are formed in the womb. Researchers are now looking into ways to prevent wisdom teeth from developing at all since the majority of people have to have them surgically removed.
  • Five million people have their wisdom teeth removed in the United States every year.
  • Sometimes wisdom teeth in the upper jaw can migrate or grow roots into the sinus cavities, causing symptoms such as sinus pain and pressure, recurring headaches, and congestion.
  • Nine out of ten people eventually develop an impacted wisdom tooth that has to be surgically removed.
  • Not every culture or language refers to wisdom teeth in the same way. There are many poetic ways to refer to the third molar, including:
  • In Korean – sa-rang-nee, which means “love teeth” because teens frequently fall in love.
  • In Turkish – yas disi, meaning “twentieth year tooth.”
  • In Japanese – oyashirazu, which loosely translates to “unknown to parents” because, by the time the wisdom teeth emerge, the individual has left their parent’s home.

Wisdom teeth are remarkably interesting for teeth that are no longer needed. However, they can cause serious damage if they are not extracted when you are in your late teens or early twenties. If you have one or more wisdom teeth that need removing, contact our office at Alaska Oral Surgery Group Office Phone Number 907-278-5678 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Szutz.

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