What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to develop and appear in the dental arch. They vary considerably in size and shape. In general, humans have four wisdom teeth which erupt between the ages of 15 and 25 years old.
They are often completely formed, but may not erupt fully into the mouth for the following reasons:
- A lack of space. Wisdom teeth are positioned behind the second molars (upper and lower jaws), often deep beneath those teeth. They are therefore partially or fully blocked from erupting.
- The tooth does not erupt in a proper direction.
When the tooth has erupted halfway into the mouth, it is then referred to as partially erupted or semi-impacted. It exerts pressure on the neighbouring tooth, which often leads to complications.
Complications related to wisdom teeth eruption include pericoronitis, infections, pericoronal cysts, decay and even resorption of the neighbouring second molar tooth. Mandibular teeth are more likely to cause such problems.