South Austin Dentist Challenges Your Knowledge of Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth usually erupt in the late teens or early twenties. Often, they come in at the wrong angle and can cause serious dental issues. Sometimes they remain impacted, which can lead to potential infection. For this reason, many people have their wisdom teeth removed. Dr. Steven Van Wicklen, your South Austin dentist, wants to know just how wise you are about wisdom teeth.

How Wise Are You?

Q1. True or false – Partially erupted wisdom teeth should be left alone.

Q2. True or false – Wisdom teeth are unnecessary in modern times.

Q3. True or false – Third molars are called “wisdom” teeth because you are considered to be of a wise age when they erupt.


A1. FALSE – When a wisdom tooth fails to erupt through the gum bed completely, a soft tissue flap develops. This is called an operculum, and it can make porper tooth cleaning difficult. Bacteria and food debris are likely to accumulate under the operculum, leading to infection. Extraction will generally be recommended in the case of a partial wisdom tooth eruption.

A2. TRUE – Cro-Magnon man couldn’t go to the closest department store and register for a nice set of sharp steak knives when he got married. There was a time in evolution when cooking and cutting meet wasn’t even a thought, let alone a reality. The ancestral diet consisted of raw meat, nuts, leaves, and roots. A third set of molars was a necessity in ancient history. These days, since we cook, bake, and cut everything into bite-sized pieces, wisdom teeth aren’t as important. That’s why removing wisdom teeth can be an easy decision when they cause trouble in your mouth.

A3. TRUE – The association between the third molars and wisdom dates back to Hippocrates. The ancient Greek physician noted that the age that the teeth erupted was a time when people typically grew more wise. Hippocrates called the third molar sophronisteres, which meant “prudent teeth.” Later, in Rome, they were called dentes sapientiae, which translates to “teeth of wisdom.”

Schedule a Dental Appointment in South Austin

If your wisdom teeth, or any of your teeth, are causing you concern, call our South Austin dentist office today at 512-448-3131 to set up an appointment. Dr. Van Wicklen offers comprehensive dentistry for the entire family. We are happy to serves the cities of Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Bastrop, Bee Cave, Cedar Park, the 78704 zip code, and surrounding communities.