Wisdom tooth is another name for any one of the four molars found in the permanent dentition. Mostly, the wisdom tooth can be visualized erupting through the gingiva or gums in early adulthood, between the ages of 16 to 23.
Not all wisdom teeth need to be extracted. When a wisdom tooth erupts cleanly through the tissue without compromising the adjacent tooth, thewisdom tooth can be retained in the mouth with little concern. However, removal of the wisdom tooth is indicated if the tooth has partially erupted through the gingival tissue causing inflammation and at times infection. A soft tissue growth over a partially erupted wisdom tooth is referred to as an operculum. If bacteria are trapped under the operculum, swelling with an associated bad taste can occur. This is called a pericoronitis. Local anesthesia is administered to ensure the tooth can be pulled out without any discomfort. A minor surgery is performed where the tissue and bone around the wisdom tooth are removed so that the tooth can be cleanly extracted from the socket. Several stitches may be needed to close the surgical site and promote healing of the overlying tissue.