Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 20, but it is not uncommon for the tooth to surface after age 20. There are four wisdom teeth, located in the farthermost area of the jaw, two on top and two in the bottom.
When wisdom teeth erupt only partially, a strong inflammation may occur, known as Pericoronitis, which causes gum irritation, abscesses and pain in the area. Some people have no wisdom teeth. This may be caused by lack of space in the jaw or to a horizontal positioning of the tooth. In some cases, the person may be missing the germ for that tooth which will therefore never appear.
If the wisdom tooth does not erupt it may be reabsorbed by the adjacent teeth thus creating painful problems and possible degeneration. A partial eruption may cause gingivitis, local irritation and abscesses, bruising and pain. It is recommended that the wisdom tooth be extracted whenever there is insufficient space or if the tooth is in a horizontal position. Extraction may also be recommended if there is a lot of pain or if there is only a partial eruption.
There are many tales of lengthy and painful wisdom tooth extractions. However, nowadays there are new techniques and medications that have greatly simplified the procedure, minimizing the occurrence of complications.