Most adults have 32 teeth, including 4 wisdom teeth that usually emerge between the ages of 17 and 21.
This final set of molars can play a useful part in the mouth for many people.
However, for others, if they don’t come through properly or don’t emerge at all, they may need to be removed.
Having wisdom teeth out is one of the most common dental procedures in the UK.
Wisdom teeth present potential problems when they are misaligned as they can position themselves horizontally, be angled toward or away from the second molars or be angled inward or outward. Poor alignment of wisdom teeth can crowd or damage adjacent teeth, the jawbone, and nerves. Wisdom teeth that lean toward the second molars make those teeth more vulnerable to decay by entrapping plaque and debris.
In addition, wisdom teeth can be entrapped completely within the soft tissue and/or the jawbone or only partially break through, or erupt, through the gum.
Teeth that remain partially or completely entrapped within the soft tissue or the jawbone are called impacted. Wisdom teeth that only partially erupt allow an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection, which results in pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness. Partially erupted teeth are also more prone to tooth decay and gum disease because their hard-to-reach location and awkward positioning makes brushing and flossing difficult.