The third molars have been called “teeth of wisdom” since the seventeenth century and simply “wisdom wheels” since the nineteenth century. Third molars usually appear much later than other teeth, usually between the ages of 17 and 25 when a person reaches adulthood.
It is generally thought among linguists that they are called wisdom teeth because they appear so late, at an age when a person matures and is “wiser” than when other teeth have burst.
Lately, science has added some credibility to the idea that the third molar actually bursts when a person is “wiser”. Recent research has shown that the brain continues to grow and develop into adolescence. In fact, most researchers believe that the brain does not reach full maturity until the age of 25.
Perhaps, then, our ancestors were not so far from reality – that the eruption of “wisdom teeth” is a sign that the carefree days of childhood have given way to the responsibilities of adulthood.