The wisdom tooth is the third molar to appear in the mouth. For most people, a wisdom tooth will begin to grow in during the late teen years, or early twenties. Sometimes a wisdom tooth can grow in with no resulting problems, but usually, a wisdom tooth will require removal.
A misaligned wisdom tooth can cause problems on a number of levels. A poorly aligned wisdom tooth can push against and damages surrounding teeth, it can injure the jawbone, or even cause damage to surrounding nerves. A misaligned wisdom tooth also presents the possibility of increased tooth decay, as food and debris can be trapped between the wisdom tooth and another molar.
Not everyone has a wisdom tooth. Although unusual, not having a wisdom tooth is not something to worry about. However, sometimes a person will have a wisdom tooth that simply never erupts through the gum line. This is called an impacted wisdom tooth. Unfortunately, this kind of wisdom tooth can still cause problems below the gum line.
Your dentist will be able to determine if you have a wisdom tooth or not. The simplest way to find out is with a painless panoramic X-ray.