Wisdom teeth got their name because of how late they appear in life, generally erupting between the ages of 17 and 25. These teeth don’t necessarily play by the rules, however. The earliest recorded wisdom tooth eruption happened to Matthew Adams, who got his wisdom teeth at nine years old, which is not a particularly “wise” age. Scientist and dentist know wisdom teeth instead as “third molars,” and have been fascinated with them for some time. Probably because they’re pretty weird.

Most experience the eruption of wisdom teeth as a painful milestone in coming of age. First, the back of your mouths start to hurt, and then the next thing you know, you’re staying home from work or school with an ice pack to your cheek. While it’s not necessary to have your wisdom teeth removed if they come in correctly positioned in your mouth, or do not cause any pain.  Nearly 85 percent of patients end up getting them removed to avoid overcrowding of teeth. If you’re wisdom teeth have come in and need to be removed, take solace in the fact that your aren’t alone.

Never Got Your Wisdom Teeth?

Somewhere along the line, genetic mutations have changed the number of wisdom teeth we have. Some patients have all four, some have three, and others have none. About 10 to 25 percent of Americans with European ancestry are missing at least one third molar, according to Alan Mann, researcher from Princeton University. Those with African and Asian descents are even higher, capping out at about 40 percent. If you’re over the age of twenty-five and consider yourself lucky enough to have never grown wisdom teeth, know that the danger isn’t over. At the age of 94, Robert Gray, the Guinness Book of World record holder for latest wisdom teeth eruption, surprised his dentist by reporting pain in the back of his mouth. You could be next.