What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the very last set of teeth that may develop in the mouth. If you have wisdom teeth, they will grow just behind the second molars at the very back of the mouth.

Some individuals don’t develop wisdom teeth at all and, therefore, never need to have them removed. Others can develop just one or two wisdom teeth, all four wisdom teeth, or in some special circumstances, more than four wisdom teeth.

Often times, it is difficult for people to know if they have wisdom teeth because they have not yet erupted into the mouth and are living beneath the surface of the gums. When a single wisdom tooth or multiple wisdom teeth are beneath the surface of the gums, these teeth are said to be “impacted.” If you visit your general dentist regularly for cleaning or check-ups, it is likely that he/she will be able to detect the presence of incoming wisdom teeth early on through conventional x-ray technology.

It is not uncommon for wisdom teeth to begin to grow into the mouth and erupt through the gums. If the wisdom teeth grown into the mouth in the correct manner, they can prove to be a valuable asset and assist in everyday function. The molars have broad surfaces with four or five cusps which assist in grinding food and chewing.

Unfortunately, it is far more common for the wisdom teeth to develop and grow into the mouth with improper alignment, at which time it is best to have wisdom teeth removed in order to protect the health of the rest of the teeth and the mouth.