Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that emerge, usually during your late teens to early twenties. For some people the wisdom teeth emerge through the gums and have enough room to grow in naturally. For others, they often cause problems as they are trying to protrude through the gums.
When a wisdom tooth only emerges partially, a flap of skin, called an operculum, may form over the tooth. This can make the tooth hard to clean, and pieces of food may be caught under the skin. This makes it easy for an infection, called pericoronitis, to develop. It will usually go away on its own, but it causes swelling and pain in the area. These potential problems make it necessary to remove impacted wisdom teeth so that larger problems do not arise. Routine x-rays during a dental exam can reveal if you will need to have your wisdom teeth removed.
Wisdom teeth extractions are a fairly common procedure. Extractions can range from a single tooth to the removal all four wisdom teeth. A local anesthetic may be used to numb the areas where the teeth will be extracted. Alternatively, a general anesthetic may be used.