Wisdom May Dawn At 28, Not Wisdom Teeth

When i am about to write on this topic my son’s dialogue is coming to my mind. I have seen him telling his younger brother — Beta, you don’t become wise by eating almonds, but you definitely become one after you have made some mistakes in life!. Many a times when i happen to hear their conversation, i also try to imbibe a bit of ‘wisdom’ from them!

So, coming to the headline of this post — Wisdom may dawn at 28, not wisdom teeth!. There is a big misconception that only wisdom teeth would herald the onset of wisdom in a person. It is not at all the case. How come then that these wisdom teeth have come to be known as Wisdom molars? ………..it is just that as per their normal eruption schedule they appear in a person during 17-21 years of age! Since it is generally the time when the person is getting ‘wiser’ (in all ways!), these molars have come to be known as Wisdom Molars.

Some people in whom wisdom molars failed to come up or they are required to be removed, they definitely have this fear, howsoever faint it might be, that it  would affect their intelligence (IQ). Their style of posing question on this seems so casual as if they want to project that others say it, they dont believe it —but in fact they want to rule out that removal of wisdom teeth won’t affect their ‘wisdom’ or worse still if one or more wisdom teeth have failed to come up, their IQ won’t suffer.

Partially erupted third molar on left side of a 28-year old lady

Left side dental x-ray

i think that’s enough about what people think about wisdom teeth. Let me share something about my patient who is 27-year old is having pain on the left side of her lower jaw in the region of wisdom tooth. You see in this photograph that the wisdom has not erupted fully — it is lying below the normal occlusal line and is almost covered with overlying gum. Dental x-ray of her left side is also placed here.

Even on her right side you can see the un-erupted wisdom tooth and it is lying in a tilted position.

Partially erupted Lower Third molar on patient’s right side

I have told her that at this age of 28years it is quite unlikely that her wisdom teeth would erupt. I want to share with you that various teeth come into the oral cavity because of eruptive forces which remain active for some particular time span –different for different teeth. In the case of third molars (wisdom teeth), these eruptive forces are active in the age group 17-21 years. I have seen wisdom molar erupting at 22 or bit later, but none at 28.

Her problem is that she has experienced bouts of pain on her left side on three occasions during the last one and a half years. My treatment is quite conservative- i advised her to take some painkiller (Ibuprofen +paracetamol tablets — i prefer Zupar, Combiflam, Ibugesic Plus etc) with frequent warm saline mouth rinses. She did it for 1-2 days and is feeling quite comfortable.

She somehow feels not very comfortable with the idea of getting her lower wisdom teeth removed. On seeing her reluctance, i suggested that she can take a second opinion. She readily agreed.

In the meantime, i want to highlight the problems that can crop up if she does not get these partially erupted wisdom molars removed,. Because of perpetual food impaction in between wisdom teeth and the tooth lying in front of these molars, chances of that healthy tooth (second molar) getting carious are high. Not only that, because of pressure exerted by such partially erupted wisdom tooth, health of their healthy neighbours is danger. Thirdly, why to unnecessarily undergo every now and then this botheration of painful gums over the partially erupted molars!

Knowledge Vs Practice : Want to share with you that knowledge not always leads to practice. We may just preach something without following that ourselves like in my own case — i too have partially erupted third molars but i am afraid of getting them removed– and how foolishly at times i try to ignore patient’s dental phobia! Reminds me of Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) studies done on dental patients.


About drparveenchopra

Dr Parveen Chopra is Masters in Dental Surgery.. with 35 years of experience in dentistry. For trying his hand in health writing, he studied Communication for seven years. He is a blogger since 2007- he enjoys writing in conversational style.
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