Ever wonder why our third molars are called “wisdom teeth”? Referred to as the “teeth of wisdom” since the 17th century, they usually emerge between the ages of 17 and 25 when a person reaches adulthood. These dental latecomers were given their current nickname because they appear at the age when we generally reach maturity and are therefore “wiser” than when our other teeth have erupted.
But the nickname is based in more than just quaint folklore. Recent research indicates that our brains continue to grow and develop through late adolescence, and don’t reach full maturity until the age of 25. Perhaps, then, our ancestors weren’t so far off the mark after all: while our “wisdom teeth” don’t make (italics “make”?) us wise, they show up at a time when we’re ready (we hope!) to take on the responsibilities of full adulthood.