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Why is a wisdom tooth called a wisdom tooth?

By Flora Chigwedere

Why is a wisdom tooth called a wisdom tooth?

I was asked by a patient the other day – 'why is a wisdom tooth called a wisdom tooth'? I responded with what I thought sounded like a very intellectual answer 'Wisdom teeth are so named because of the time they appear, generally in the late teens or early twenties, when people are supposed to be gaining some bit of wisdom in life.' Good answer, I thought. She then proceeded to ask me 'So if I have no wisdom teeth, are you insinuating I have no wisdom?' So what I learnt from that experience was, before I answer the same question in future, I must check whether or not the person in question has had their wisdom teeth or not. 

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