Adults can have a maximum of 32 teeth. The wisdom teeth are the last to come through, right at the back. They usually appear between the ages of 17 and 25, although sometimes they appear many years later. Nowadays, people often have jaws that are too small for all 32 teeth; 28 is often the most we have room for. So, if all the teeth are present and healthy, there may not be enough space for the wisdom teeth to come through properly.
Do they always cause problems?
No. If there is enough room they will usually come through into useful positions and cause no more problems than any other tooth. Often there will be some slight discomfort as they come through, but this is only temporary and will disappear once the tooth is fully in position.
If there is not enough room, the wisdom tooth may try to come through, but will get stuck against the tooth in front of it (“impacted”). The impacted wisdom tooth can be angled in a number of different ways and this can indicate how difficult the tooth may be to remove.
What problems should I be prepared for?
If part of the wisdom tooth has appeared through the gum and part of it is still covered, the gum may become sore and perhaps swollen. Food particles and bacteria can collect under the gum edge and it will be difficult to clean effectively. You will be advised whether this is a temporary problem that can be dealt with by using mouthwashes and special cleaning methods (and possibly antibiotics) or whether it is better to have the tooth removed.
What can I do to help myself?
A hot saltwater mouthwash or an antiseptic mouthwash such as Corsodyl will help to reduce gum soreness and inflammation, getting into areas your toothbrush cannot reach. Painkillers, such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can also be useful in the short term.
What if these don't help?
If the pain doesn't go or if you find it difficult to open your mouth or get repeated infections around the crown of the tooth, then it is likely that you will need medication or extraction.
Last Updated 22nd January 2016
Are X-rays needed?
The tooth will need to be X-rayed to see the position of the tooth, its angulation / impaction and whether there is any disease process present that compromises the wisdom tooth or its adjacent teeth.
What are the main reasons for taking Wisdom Teeth out?
When there are repeated infections associated with the wisdom tooth