Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are a set of molars located at the back of the human dentition, with one in each of the four quadrants. These molars typically begin to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. While most adults have four wisdom teeth, it's possible to have fewer or more, and these additional teeth are referred to as supernumerary teeth. Wisdom teeth often pose issues as they develop and can become impacted. Consequently, they are frequently extracted, either when problems arise or as a preventive measure.
Wisdom teeth are considered vestigial third molars that played a role in helping our human ancestors grind plant tissue. It is believed that the skulls of early human ancestors featured larger jaws with more teeth, possibly aiding in the chewing of foliage to compensate for the inefficiency in digesting the cellulose that comprises plant cell walls. However, with the advent of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago, human diets transitioned to include softer foods rich in carbohydrates and high-energy content. These dietary changes have led to reduced forward growth in our jaws compared to our Paleolithic ancestors, resulting in insufficient space for the eruption of wisdom teeth.