A wisdom tooth or third molar is one of the three molars per quadrant of the human dentition. It is the most posterior of the three. The age at which wisdom teeth come through (erupt) is variable, but generally occurs between late teens and early twenties. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, one in each of the four quadrants, but it is possible to have none, fewer, or more, in which case the extras are called supernumerary teeth. Wisdom teeth may get stuck (impacted) against other teeth if there is not enough space for them to come through normally. While this does not cause movement of other teeth, it can cause tooth decay if the impaction makes oral hygiene difficult. Wisdom teeth which are partially erupted through the gum may also cause inflammation and infection in the surrounding gum tissues, termed pericoronitis. Wisdom teeth are often extracted when or even before these problems occur. However, some, including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the UK, recommend against the prophylactic extraction of disease-free impacted wisdom teeth.
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