Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that emerge, usually during your late teens to early twenties. For some people, the wisdom teeth emerge through the gums, and have enough room to grow in naturally. For others, wisdom teeth often cause problems as they are trying to protrude through the gums. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, the tooth is coming in at an angle rather than straight through the gum line. An often painful development, the tooth can come in unevenly, or the tooth may only emerge partially.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause structural damage to the jaw and to other teeth. They can also provide a place for bacteria to gather, as they are hard to reach and clean. These potential problems make it necessary to remove impacted wisdom teeth so that larger problems do not arise. Routine x-rays during dental exams can reveal if you will need to have your wisdom teeth removed.
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: