Wisdom teeth are the third-last permanent molars. Most people have four wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. These teeth are commonly called wisdom teeth because they usually erupt between the ages of 16 to 21, known as the 'age of wisdom'. A wisdom tooth is impacted when it is obstructed from erupting fully into the mouth by the tooth in front of it or the surrounding bone or gums.
Problems caused by impacted wisdom teeth
Improperly erupted wisdom teeth are breeding grounds for bacteria and may cause tooth decay, sometimes even affecting the neighbouring teeth. Infection of the overlying gums can take place as well, resulting in pain and swelling.
Initial problems of wisdom teeth may be treated with antibiotics if deemed appropriate. If you have continued problems from your wisdom teeth then this may be an indication for their removal. This will be assessed by your dentist and if the referral criterion is met the wisdom tooth will be extracted. Due to the potential difficulty of extracting a wisdom tooth your dentist may refer you to hospital to have this undertaken.