“Wisdom teeth” refers to a person being older and wiser when the teeth emerge. They were called “teeth of wisdom” throughout the 17th century, until the name was gradually shortened to “wisdom teeth” in the 19th century.
Wisdom teeth typically appear between the ages of 17 and 25. They are the third and final set of molars to appear. The average person has four, but it is normal to have fewer. They can cause several problems as they grow. Wisdom teeth can become impacted and cause damage to the jaw or shift the alignment of other teeth. If any problems occur, they can be removed with oral surgery.
Signs that the wisdom teeth are coming in include gum irritation and pain in that area. Symptoms vary for each person and depend on whether there are any issues with the teeth or not. If the wisdom teeth come in properly, the person may not have any symptoms.
Gum irritation includes soreness or an itching sensation. Redness and swelling of the gums in the area of the wisdom teeth is also common.
Pain from wisdom teeth tends to be infrequent to start, before becoming more common as the teeth come in further. Pain is more likely and also more severe if there is a problem with the wisdom teeth, such as an infection or an alignment issue.
The amount of time it takes for wisdom teeth to come in is highly variable based on the size of a person’s jaw, according to WebMD. In some people the wisdom teeth break through but never actually come in due to lack of space.
In other cases the wisdom teeth are forced to come in crooked or even backwards, according to WebMD. When there isn’t enough room for them to come in, the wisdom teeth can become impacted, or stuck, and unable to break through the gum surface. Problems with the wisdom teeth coming in can cause pain in the tooth or jaw and infection in the gums surrounding the wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth typically begin coming in sometime between ages 15 and 30 in most people, according to WebMD. If individuals haven’t experienced any issues with their wisdom teeth once they are over age 30, chances are the teeth don’t need to be removed. Due to potential problems, many people choose to have their wisdom teeth removed before they break through the gums. Wisdom teeth are extracted by a dentist or oral surgeon on an outpatient basis. Conflicting evidence exists in the scientific community about whether it’s necessary to remove wisdom teeth that aren’t causing any problems.