Wisdom teeth are the last molars on each side of the jaw. They are the last teeth to emerge, or erupt, usually when a person is between 16 and 24. Adults usually have 4 wisdom teeth, one in each corner of the jaw.
As wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to come through there is often not enough room left in your mouth to accommodate them. This can lead to impacted wisdom teeth – teeth that are trapped beneath the gum tissue by other teeth or bone. If teeth are impacted, swelling and tenderness of the gum may occur and antibiotics may be prescribed to ease the inflammation.
This condition is called acute periocoronitis.
Wisdom teeth that only partially emerge or come through crooked may also lead to painful crowding and disease. Food and bacteria can get trapped around the edge of the wisdom tooth, causing a build-up of plaque, which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, cellulitis or other problems.
Since teeth removed before the age of 20 have less developed roots and fewer complications, you should consult your dentist to have your wisdom teeth evaluated to see if they need to be removed, especially is they have started to cause problems.