What are Wisdom Teeth?
The last teeth to develop and erupt into the jaws are called the third molars. Third molars usually erupt in the late teen years, which coincides with passage into adulthood and is referred to by some as the age of wisdom; hence "wisdom teeth". Unfortunately, the wisdom teeth are now usually trying to erupt into a jaw that is too small. You probably know someone who has gotten their wisdom teeth removed. In fact, it is almost a rite of passage in the United States. Most people need their wisdom teeth removed to preserve their smile, and save themselves from a lot of pain later down the road.
Why are they called Wisdom Teeth?
The heavily processed diet of today does not produce the tooth abrasion or jaw development that we used to see. Modern dentistry has pretty much eliminated significant loss of permanent teeth at an early age. This leaves us with too many teeth and not enough jaw. The wisdom teeth still develop as they always have, but they have no where to go. When this happens, the teeth are considered "impacted," meaning that they are not in normal position and function.