Wisdom teeth, often called the third molars by dentists, are the last teeth to appear, usually erupting in the late teens or early twenties - although sometimes they may not emerge at all and remain below the gum line. Many people find that the new teeth cause no problems whatsoever, but in other cases, your dentist may decide that the best cause of action is for the wisdom teeth to be removed. What kinds of problems might lead to this action?


In order for the tooth to emerge fully, there needs to be enough room in the mouth. If there isn't, the teeth may become twisted or displaced, and they may remain stuck below the gum line or only partially emerge. When this happens, it is known as an impacted tooth. Impacted teeth can cause pain and infection in the gums.

If the tooth remains below the gums, you may not even realise you have an impacted wisdom tooth. However, your dentist will detect it by taking regular x-rays of your mouth and will be able to tell if it is likely to cause problems.


As wisdom teeth are at the back of the mouth and are difficult to get to, you may not realise that you are not cleaning them as well as your other teeth. However, they are just as susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease as your other teeth, and the result will be toothache and bleeding gums. Extraction may be the only way to deal with the problem.

You can work to prevent this by paying particular attention to your wisdom teeth when you are brushing. Use a long-handled toothbrush to get to the teeth and make sure you floss between the teeth. This should help prevent decay and should keep your teeth and gums healthy.


Some dentists may recommend taking out a wisdom tooth as a precautionary measure to prevent any problems occurring in the future. Such problems could include cysts or damage to nearby teeth. However, not everyone believes that removing healthy teeth is a good idea, so make sure you talk it through with your dentist if they suggest it.

Wisdom teeth may cause no problems whatsoever - but if you do feel any pain or discomfort, make sure you tell your dentist straight away. Extraction is a simple procedure and may prevent problems from occurring in the future.