A wisdom tooth, in humans, is any of the usual four third molars. Wisdom teeth usually appear between the ages of 16 and 25. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, but it is possible to have fewer (hypodontia), or more, in which case they are called supernumerary teeth.
Wisdom teeth usually present with no problems, but they can become stuck (impacted) or “come in sideways” as they develop. When this happens they can cause infections as food particles are easily trapped in the jaw area behind the wisdom teeth where regular brushing and flossing is difficult and ineffective. In addition to this stuck food can cause the tooth in front of the wisdom tooth to decay. They can also rub against the tongue or cheek causing significant discomfort.
Wisdom teeth are extracted for two general reasons:
When infections and / or pain are repeatedly experienced, or when the adjacent tooth is at risk, the wisdom tooth is often extracted.
There are risks associated with the removal of wisdom teeth in the bottom jaw which your dentist will discuss with you.