Wisdom teeth are the third molars and, if you have them in your mouth, the last teeth in your mouth. There are four wisdom teeth. They are the last teeth to erupt or grow into your mouth, if ever. Some people have all of them present in the mouth and a lifetime of function. Most people, however, will have some type of complication with their wisdom teeth. As we have evolved as humans, the mandible, or lower jaw, has shortened and there is typically not enough room for these teeth.
Sometimes, wisdom teeth never erupt out of the bone. Other times, the teeth are partially in and partially out of bone. In the case where these teeth are partially out of the bone they can peek out into the mouth. This can cause problems as food, plaque and bacteria can be trapped in the area causing pain and swelling because these areas are difficult if not impossible to clean.
Wisdom teeth can be angled, or impacted, whether inside the bone or out. This misalignment can cause problems with the teeth next to them. They can move teeth, lead to bone loss on other teeth, promote cavity formation, make areas in the gum tissue difficult to clean, and be overall problems.