doctor examining x-ray showing wisdom teeethAh, wisdom teeth—those pesky third molars that love to make a grand entrance in our late teens or early twenties. If you’re curious about when wisdom teeth usually come in and what to expect, you’re in the right place. Having been through the wisdom tooth experience myself, I’m here to give you the lowdown on these fashionably late arrivals to your dental party.

When do Wisdom Teeth Come In

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to grow in. For most people, this happens during their late teens or early twenties. But the exact timing can vary quite a bit from person to person. Some lucky folks get their wisdom teeth as early as age 17, while others may not see them until they’re 25 or older.

Average Age Range for Wisdom Teeth Eruption

So when can you expect these late bloomers to make an appearance? The average age range for wisdom teeth eruption is between 17 and 21 years old. This is when those third molars usually start to poke through the gums. But don’t worry if you’re outside that range – it’s totally normal. I’ve seen plenty of patients whose wisdom teeth didn’t start coming in until their mid-twenties or even later.

Factors That Can Affect Timing

So what determines when your wisdom teeth decide to crash the party? A few key factors can influence the timing of wisdom tooth eruption:

  • Genetics play a big role. If your parents or siblings got their wisdom teeth later, chances are you will too.
  • Jaw size matters. If you have a smaller jaw, there may not be enough room for wisdom teeth to grow properly, delaying their arrival.
  • Overall dental development is key. If your other adult teeth came in late, your wisdom teeth might follow suit.

Bottom line? There’s a wide range of normal when it comes to wisdom teeth coming in. So don’t stress if you’re still waiting on yours in your late teens or early twenties – they’re just fashionably late to the party.

Signs and Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Coming In

So you’re in your late teens or early twenties, and you suspect your wisdom teeth might be making their grand entrance. But how can you tell for sure? Here are some common signs and symptoms to watch for:

Common Pain and Discomfort

One of the first things you might notice when your wisdom teeth start coming in is pain or discomfort in the back of your mouth. This can range from a dull ache to more intense throbbing or pressure. You may also experience pain or stiffness in your jaw, especially when chewing or opening your mouth wide. Some people even get headaches or earaches as a result of wisdom tooth eruption.

Visible Changes in Gums and Teeth

As your wisdom teeth start to push through the gums, you may notice some visible changes in your mouth. Your gums may look red, swollen, or inflamed in the area where the teeth are coming in. You might also see small white specks poking through the gums – those are the tips of your wisdom teeth making their debut. Over time, more of the tooth will become visible as it continues to erupt.

Other Symptoms to Watch For

In addition to pain and visible changes, there are a few other symptoms that can signal your wisdom teeth are on the way:

  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Swelling in the jaw or around the gums
  • Difficulty opening your mouth wide
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away with brushing

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule a checkup with your dentist. They can take ​x-rays to see how your wisdom teeth are developing and make sure everything looks healthy.

Complications That Can Arise with Wisdom Teeth

While some people have plenty of room for their wisdom teeth and they come in without a hitch, others aren’t so lucky. Wisdom teeth can cause some pretty annoying complications, especially if they don’t have enough space to grow properly.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

One of the most common issues with wisdom teeth is impaction. This happens when there’s not enough room in the jaw for the teeth to erupt fully, so they get stuck under the gums or grow in at an angle. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, swelling, and infection if they’re not treated. They can also damage nearby teeth or cause them to shift out of alignment.

Partial Eruption and Crowding

Even if your wisdom teeth aren’t fully impacted, they can still cause problems if they only partially erupt through the gums. Partially erupted teeth are harder to keep clean, which increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Wisdom teeth can also contribute to crowding in your mouth, especially if you’ve had orthodontic work in the past. As they try to squeeze in, they can push your other teeth out of alignment, undoing all that hard work you put into getting a straight smile.

Increased Risk of Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Because wisdom teeth are so far back in the mouth, they can be tough to clean properly. Food and bacteria can easily get trapped around the teeth and gums, leading to cavities and infections. Wisdom teeth are also more prone to ​gum disease especially if they’re partially erupted or impacted. The gums around the teeth can become inflamed and infected, causing pain, swelling, and even bone loss if left untreated. The best way to prevent these complications is to stay on top of your oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly for checkups. If your dentist spots any potential issues with your wisdom teeth, they may recommend removal to keep your mouth healthy.

When to See a Dentist or Oral Surgeon

So how do you know when it’s time to get those pesky wisdom teeth checked out? Here are a few signs it’s time to schedule a dental appointment:

Regular Dental Check-Ups

First and foremost, it’s important to see your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings, especially during your late teens and early twenties when wisdom teeth typically come in. During these appointments, your dentist will take x-rays to monitor the development of your wisdom teeth and check for any potential issues. They can also give you a heads-up if you need to have them removed down the line.

Signs You May Need Wisdom Teeth Removed​​​​

Even if you’re keeping up with your regular dental visits, some signs may indicate it’s time to get your wisdom teeth removed:

  • Pain or discomfort in the back of your mouth that doesn’t go away
  • Swelling, redness, or tenderness in the gums around your wisdom teeth
  • Difficulty opening your mouth wide or pain when chewing
  • Persistent bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Visible damage to nearby teeth or shifting of your other teeth

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your dentist right away. They can assess the situation and determine if wisdom tooth extraction is necessary.

Referral to an Oral Surgeon

In some cases, your general dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon for wisdom tooth removal. This is especially common if your teeth are impacted or if the extraction is expected to be more complex. Oral surgeons have additional training and expertise in performing tooth extractions and other surgical procedures in the mouth. They can ensure that your wisdom teeth are removed safely and efficiently, with minimal discomfort and downtime. If you do need to see an oral surgeon, don’t worry – it’s a common procedure and most people recover quickly. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions for care before and after the extraction to ensure a smooth healing process.

Importance of Monitoring Wisdom Teeth Growth

Even if your wisdom teeth seem to be coming in without any issues, it’s still important to keep a close eye on their growth and development. Regular monitoring can help prevent potential problems down the line and keep your mouth healthy for years to come.

Preventing Future Dental Issues

One of the main reasons to monitor wisdom tooth growth is to prevent future dental issues. Even if your teeth aren’t causing problems now, they may start to shift or become impacted over time. By catching these issues early, your dentist can take steps to prevent them from getting worse. This may involve removing the teeth before they have a chance to cause damage or recommending other treatments to keep your mouth healthy.

Protecting Neighboring Teeth

Wisdom teeth can also put pressure on neighboring teeth as they try to squeeze into the jaw. This can cause your other teeth to shift out of alignment or even become damaged. Regular x-rays and check-ups can help your dentist spot these issues early and take steps to protect your other teeth. This may involve removing the wisdom teeth or using other treatments to relieve pressure and prevent damage.

Maintaining Overall Oral Health

Finally, monitoring wisdom tooth growth is an important part of maintaining overall oral health. Even if your teeth come in without any issues, they can still be harder to keep clean and more prone to decay and gum disease. By seeing your dentist regularly and following a good oral hygiene routine at home, you can keep your wisdom teeth healthy and prevent potential problems. This includes brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and using mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen your breath. If you do end up needing your wisdom teeth removed, don’t worry – it’s a common procedure and most people recover quickly.


When do wisdom teeth come in? Typically, these third molars appear between ages 17 and 25, but the timing can vary.

To avoid potential issues, watch for discomfort, inflammation, or changes in your oral health. Routine dental visits, like those at BGW Dental Group, ensure your wisdom teeth are effectively monitored.

Catching issues early can save you a lot of discomfort. Keep an eye on those back molars, and reach out to your dental professional if you have concerns.