Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Wisdom Teeth

            I was at a dentist's the other day and as she was checking out my teeth, she suddenly said, where did this wisdom come from? For a minute, I felt she was a shrink and not a dentist. And then she says, she was referring to my wisdom tooth which was coming out. I was wondering why the wisdom teeth are called wisdom teeth indeed. There are probably multiple theories for wisdom teeth. But from my understanding biologically, I dont feel, wisdom teeth can be associated with any wisdom, but actually can be associated with pain and irritation.Wisdom teeth in most people either impacts the teeth surrounding it or impacts itself or the gums and what not. To me, wisdom teeth are like uninvited guests who just show up even when you don't want them around. And my understanding is that extraction process of these teeth is also a pretty painful affair.  
           So then why associate this with wisdom? I dont even think it makes sense. No teeth is going to bring in wisdom into us. One of the theories about wisdom teeth is that these appear at a point or age of our lives when we get wisdom. This theory is much more sensible than other theories about the same. But to  be honest, this theory in its own way is stupid. Wisdom psychologically doesn't come just with age, but with experience and more exposure to knowledge and tough life situations, and as a matter of fact, research  (Univ of Cal) suggests that wisdom is associated with more than one brain center getting activated, depending upon the situations your brain faces. Meanwhile philosophers associate wisdom with spirituality and intuition. Intuition itself according to me comes from experience and is not something completely innate. Some of the terms coined for things are completely misleading and we as humans always try to categorize things and always have a need to associate everything with something or the other. So our forefathers probably had to associate these teeth which forcefully grow at an age when we think all our permanent teeth have grown completely and they associated these with age and maturity that begins to emerge higher at around this age. It could also be an indication to tell you that you are no more a kid and that you have to grow up now.


  1. Good post.

    (now at Los Angeles)

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog!

    The wisdom tooth comes late in ones life (compared to when the other teeth come), and there is this notion that age brings wisdom. So, it is not a complete misnomer.
    It is certainly possible that a 15 year old has had more "life" experience than a 25 year old, but such cases would be at the tail end of any probability distribution. The normal case would be, the longer you live, the more life experience you have seen/faced/solved/lost etc. So, IMO, it is not a completely misleading assumption to assume that the older you are, the wiser you are!
    Thankfully, I do not have enough "wisdom" yet. And since, I do not have dental insurance, I hope to not have wisdom till school is over and I get a job :P