15 Weird Facts About Wisdom Teeth

Most of us have them, most of us need them removed, and most of us wonder why we ever had them in the first place. A part of our biology that hasn’t yet caught up with how fast our world changes, wisdom teeth are kind of like the appendix of your mouth. Just as useless, just as potentially-dangerous – which is why we go have that ubiquitous wisdom tooth surgery the summer before senior year of high school.

Okay – we know, we know. Is there anything else to be said about wisdom teeth? Yup! Here are 15 strange statistics about that weird third set of molars:

  1. The oldest archaeological evidence of impacted wisdom teeth comes from a 25 to 35-year-old woman who died 13,000 to 15,000 years ago.
  2. About 5 million people have their wisdom teeth extracted each year in the US.
  3. Getting your wisdom teeth out wasn’t even a thing until the 1950’s.
  4. Wisdom teeth usually come in between the ages of 17 and 21, but it’s not uncommon for them to wait to come in until your late 20’s.
  5. 90% of 20-year-olds still have 1 or more wisdom teeth that haven’t come in yet.
  6. 2% of people have no wisdom teeth.
  7. One study found that 25% of people with asymptomatic wisdom teeth also had periodontal disease.
  8. An article published by an oral and maxillofacial doctor in 2007 sparked what is now a national debate among dental specialists about whether preventative wisdom teeth removal is helping or hurting.
  9. Since 2008, the American Public Health Association has officially opposed preventative wisdom tooth excisions. (The American Dental Association doesn’t, though!)
  10. Americans spend up to $3 billion a year on wisdom tooth extraction surgeries.
  11. Simple wisdom tooth removals cost an average of $230 out-of-pocket.
  12. Impacted wisdom tooth removals cost an average of $400 out-of-pocket.
  13. About 5500 oral and maxillofacial doctors perform an average of 53 wisdom tooth excision procedures per month.
  14. 33% of people experience discomfort or pain from their wisdom teeth.
  15. Only about 20% of impacted wisdom teeth result in complications like infection and abscess.


There’s a little more to wisdom teeth than you thought, huh?

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