Wisdom teeth usually emerge from the gum between the ages of 17 and 24. They are the last of the molar teeth, which are the large grinding teeth at the back of the mouth. Some people never develop wisdom teeth and others have up to four – one in each corner of the mouth.
Wisdom teeth usually cause no problems. They are described as impacted when there is not enough space for them at the back of the mouth. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, swelling, infection or damage to the teeth next to them. If the gum around the wisdom tooth is swollen the jaw may become stiff and sore. Infection at the back of the mouth can cause bad breath and a bad taste. When this occurs the extraction of wisdom teeth is recommended.
The surgical removal (extraction) of one or more wisdom teeth can relieve these problems. However, removing the wisdom teeth does not usually improve crookedness or crowding of other teeth.