Wisdom teeth, also known as the third molars, should erupt from the gums between the ages of 17 and 25. When wisdom teeth emerge healthy and whole, they are a strong tool for grinding nuts and hard pieces of food. Most wisdom teeth come in crooked and out of alignment, resulting in pain and the necessity for dental treatment.
Wisdom teeth can be very painful when they emerge because usually one or more wisdom teeth are impacted. A tooth is described as impacted when there is not enough room between the gums and the surrounding teeth for the tooth to grow uninhibitedly. When this occurs in an adult, severe pain is the result.
Most people have their wisdom teeth surgically removed as soon as the pain begins, as the impacted tooth can become infected. According to WebMD, this is a serious condition, as the infection can move into the bloodstream and affect the heart or the brain. Even if an impacted wisdom tooth is not causing pain, it needs to be removed, as it can affect tooth and gum health. An impacted wisdom tooth can contribute to periodontal disease or nerve damage surrounding the tooth.