They generally make their appearance between the ages of 17 to 25 and are located at the back of the mouth, near the entrance to the throat.
The term "wisdom" stems from the idea that the molars surface at a time typically associated with increased maturity or "wisdom".
In most cases, inadequate space in the mouth does not allow the wisdom teeth to erupt properly and become fully functional. When this happens, the tooth can become impacted (stuck) in an undesirable or potentially harmful position. If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to infection, damage to other teeth, and possibly cysts or tumors.
While not all wisdom teeth require removal, wisdom teeth extractions are most often performed because of an active problem such as pain, swelling, decay or infection, or as a preventative measure to avoid serious problems in the future. If impaction of one or more wisdom teeth is present, and left untreated, a number of potentially harmful outcomes can occur, including:
As with any dental procedure, your dentist will want to initially conduct a thorough examination of the wisdom and surrounding teeth. Panoramic or digital x-rays will be taken in order for your dentist to evaluate the teeth. Early evaluation and treatment (typically in the mid-teen years) is recommended in order to identify potential problems and to improve the results for patients requiring wisdom teeth extractions.
Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure, generally performed under local anesthesia, intravenous (IV) sedation, or general anesthesia by a specially trained dentist. The surgery does not require an overnight stay and you will be released with post-operative instructions and medication (if necessary) to help manage any swelling or discomfort.