Wisdom teeth are the upper and lower third molars, located at the
very back of the mouth, that usually come in (erupt) when a person is between
17 and 21 years old. They can cause problems if there is not enough room for
them to grow in normally or to be cleaned properly.
Most problems with wisdom teeth develop in people between the ages of 15 and 25. Few people older than 30 have problems that require removal of their wisdom teeth.
Wisdom tooth problems include the following:
The jaw may not have enough space for the
wisdom teeth to come in, and they may be unable to push through the gums
(impacted). More serious problems can develop from impacted teeth, such as
infection, damage to other teeth and bone, or formation of a
The wisdom teeth may push partway through the gums, causing
a flap of gum tissue to grow over them. Food can become trapped under the flap
and cause the gums to become red, swollen, and painful.
One or more
of the wisdom teeth may come in at an awkward angle, with the top of the tooth
facing forward, backward, or to either side.
A dental professional can examine the teeth and gums for signs of
erupting or crowded wisdom teeth. He or she can take X-rays to see whether the
wisdom teeth are causing problems now or whether they are likely to cause
problems in the future.
The most common treatment for wisdom tooth problems is removal
(extraction) of the tooth. Experts disagree about whether to remove a wisdom
tooth that is not causing obvious symptoms or problems.
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.