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Wisdom teeth. You might’ve heard the term, but what are they? Where do they come from? Do they really cause so many problems, and is it a good idea — or even necessary — to have them removed?

At Grace Dental Group, we’re happy to answer all your wisdom tooth questions, including whether or not you need an extraction. Above all, Woo Young Lee, DDS, wants to ensure your mouth’s long-term health and happiness, which can sometimes require removing your wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth: a definition

Your wisdom teeth are the teeth that grow into the back of your mouth, usually between the ages of 17 and 24. Most of the time, two grow into either end of your top row of teeth, and two more grow into the bottom. However, this isn’t always the case.

Why don’t some people have them

Not all people have wisdom teeth. It’s estimated that somewhere between five and 37 percent of people are missing one or more of their wisdom teeth. This can be a blessing because you never have to worry about them.

In addition, those who do have some or all of their wisdom teeth might not see them break the surface of their gums. Still, having them and seeing one or more of them erupt is common. According to, about 80 in every 100 young adults see at least one wisdom tooth break out of the gums.

Why they’re called wisdom teeth

You may also be wondering how these smart teeth got their name. The Latin term for them is dens sapientiae, which translates to wisdom teeth. It’s mostly assumed that the term comes from the lateness of their arrival. A person begins to see them when they’re older and have more wisdom than they did in childhood.

Wisdom teeth are also called third molars because you have two other sets. The other sets erupt much earlier and usually don’t cause concerns like wisdom teeth do.

Why wisdom teeth are removed

As you’ve seen, not everyone has wisdom teeth, and not all wisdom teeth cause problems. However, some people have issues where these newly erupted teeth crowd their other teeth, become impacted, or lead to issues like infection, gum disease, pain, and more.

If any of these issues affect you, it’s probably time to seek treatment. In most cases, this means extraction. Still, it’s best to visit your oral care provider and discuss your options to safely and effectively protect your oral health.

Wisdom teeth 101

If you have more questions about your wisdom teeth, check out our blog. And if it’s time to have your third molars removed, let us help!

Just call us at (415) 921-8867 or make an appointment online. We can’t wait to see you in our San Francisco, CA, office.

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