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The wisdom teeth are the last teeth to emerge in the mouth. Some people can keep them for the remainder of life. Other people choose to have them removed.
Wisdom teeth are the upper and lower third molars that are located at the very back of your mouth. They are deemed as ‘wisdom’ teeth because they come in when a person reaches the age of 18 and this is when some believe they have acquired wisdom. Often a person’s mouth is not big enough to accommodate these molars when the start to emerge. Instead of lining up straight, the tooth may fail to break through the gum and be ‘impacted’ or stuck down in the jaw. When this happens, it can cause the other teeth to crowd together and lead to a lot of pain. Wisdom teeth that have emerged may develop decay or gum disease and be difficult to clean, too. Oftentimes, the gum becomes inflamed and infected which leads to additional pain.

Most of the problems with these types of teeth occur when people are between the ages of 15 and 25. Few people over the age of 30 will have problems with these molars. Most dentists prefer people to have them evaluated around the ages of 16 to 20. They don’t want patients waiting until the bones around the teeth grow and harden because this makes extraction more difficult and the healing is slower at an older age, too.
Painful Wisdom Teeth – When wisdom teeth become painful they inflame the gum tissue and other soft tissue around them. Pain is the main reason teenagers and young adults want these molars out.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth – When the molars fail to fully break through the gum line, they become what dentists call ‘impacted’. The back teeth that emerge at odd angles cause pain, infection, and problems chewing.

Decayed Wisdom Teeth – Teeth that are located in areas where they can’t be brushed adequately, they develop decay or are susceptible to dental caries. If wisdom teeth do become decayed, they should be removed as opposed to filled because the decaying will continue and other problems may develop.

Overcrowded Wisdom Teeth – If a person’s jaw size and mouth shape causes crowding of other teeth that are close by, this leads to pain and damages the surrounding neighboring teeth.

What are the Risks Associated with Having Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Below you'll find a list of possible complications after having removed wisdom teeth:  

  • pain and swelling of the gums in the area where the tooth was removed
  • continuous bleeding that lasts for longer than 12 hours
  • trismus or pain when opening the mouth
  • slow-to-heal gums
  • damage to the dental work of crowns, bridges, or nearby teeth
  • dry socket  which is painful inflammation due to loss of the protective blood clot come out
  • injury or inflammation to the jaw nerves that happens from anesthesia
  • permanent numbness of the mouth and lips
Continue reading after recommendations

  • WebMD. (2009). Should I have a wisdom tooth removed?
  • Kathleen Romito, MD(2010. Wisdom tooth extraction. WebMD.
  • Bui CH, et al. (2003). Types, frequencies, and risk factors for complications after third molar extraction. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 61(12): 1379-1389.
  • Photo courtesy of deltamike on Flickr: Academy of General Dentistry (2005). Check Menstrual Calendar for Tooth Extraction. Available online: