Since wisdom teeth (third molars) are the last teeth to erupt into the mouth, many do not completely come through the gum tissue. In addition, most of the population does not have enough room in their mouth for wisdom teeth. The age at which people get their wisdom teeth ranges from 17 to 25 years old. However, Dr. Jordan has seen erupted wisdom teeth in a 15 year old!
If the wisdom teeth never erupt through the gum tissue, they can potentially develop into a cyst or other harmful conditions such as an ameloblastoma, which is a tumor requiring radical treatment. Some impacted wisdom teeth may become infected or cause damage to the adjacent 12-year molar. Wisdom teeth that partially erupt through the gums and stay that way are extremely prone to infection and cavities and often cause gum disease on the adjacent teeth.
The third molars that do erupt into the mouth are difficult to brush and floss since they are the farthest teeth back in the mouth. As a result, cavities can develop rapidly, resulting in a toothache or infection. Infections near lower wisdom teeth can quickly become life threatening.
Removing wisdom teeth is usually done between the ages of 15 to 20 when the roots are not completely formed. Taking these teeth out at this age usually results in less pain, better healing, a faster recovery, and can prevent cavities and gum disease on the adjacent 12-year molars.