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Overview of wisdom teeth

Tirohanga whānui ki ngā niho kōrahi tuatoru

By the time they're 18, most people have 32 teeth. The third molars are the last teeth to erupt, at around age 18 to 20. These four teeth are also known as wisdom teeth.

Most people only have enough space in their mouths for 28 teeth. Because the wisdom teeth are the last to come through, they often don't have enough space. In this case, they may be crooked, only come through partly or remain completely embedded within the jaw. These wisdom teeth are called impacted.

Wisdom teeth may have to be extracted to correct an actual problem or to prevent future problems. But if your wisdom teeth are aligned properly and you can reach them to clean them, they probably won't have to come out.

Possible problems with wisdom teeth

Some of these problems are:

Deciding whether to have your wisdom teeth removed

If your wisdom teeth aren't causing problems, it may be difficult to decide whether to have your wisdom teeth removed to prevent possible dental problems later in life. There are several things to consider.

On the next page: Removing wisdom teeth

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2022.

Page reference: 77261

Review key: HICPA-75368