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  • <p>This x-ray image shows the side view of a person's upper and lower jaws.</p><p>The large teeth toward the right of the picture lie at the back of the mouth. The smaller ones, to the left, are positioned at the front.</p>
     

    This x-ray image shows the side view of a person's upper and lower jaws.

    The large teeth toward the right of the picture lie at the back of the mouth. The smaller ones, to the left, are positioned at the front.

  • <p>Wisdom teeth are a type of molar. (Each of the teeth outlined in this image are molars.)</p><p>People usually have a total of 3 (top and bottom, on each side), the 1st, 2nd and 3rd molars.</p>
     

    Wisdom teeth are a type of molar. (Each of the teeth outlined in this image are molars.)

    People usually have a total of 3 (top and bottom, on each side), the 1st, 2nd and 3rd molars.

  • <p>The two outlined teeth you see here are wisdom teeth.</p><p>Wisdom teeth = 3rd molars.</p><p>A dentist will use the terms wisdom teeth, 3rd molars or even just "3rd's" interchangeably.</p>
     

    The two outlined teeth you see here are wisdom teeth.

    Wisdom teeth = 3rd molars.

    A dentist will use the terms wisdom teeth, 3rd molars or even just "3rd's" interchangeably.

  • <p>In most cases, a person has 4 wisdom teeth: Upper left, lower left, upper right and lower right.</p><p>But it's not terribly uncommon for a person to be missing one or more.</p>
     

    In most cases, a person has 4 wisdom teeth: Upper left, lower left, upper right and lower right.

    But it's not terribly uncommon for a person to be missing one or more.

  • <p>Some people actually have one or more extra wisdom teeth (4th molars).</p>
     

    Some people actually have one or more extra wisdom teeth (4th molars).

  • <p>In this picture, notice how the root form of each of the different types of molars varies.</p><p>The roots of 1st molars are usually fairly distinct.</p><p>In comparison, 2nd and especially 3rd molars frequently have stranger root shapes (they're often more fused, curved or malformed).</p>
     

    In this picture, notice how the root form of each of the different types of molars varies.

    The roots of 1st molars are usually fairly distinct.

    In comparison, 2nd and especially 3rd molars frequently have stranger root shapes (they're often more fused, curved or malformed).

  • <p>That makes for a lot of variability in how hard it is to remove a wisdom tooth.</p><p> In this picture, the fused, cone-shaped root system of the upper one should make removing it relatively easy (possibly surprisingly so).</p><p>With the lower one, the curved nature of its front root may add a degree of difficulty when it's extracted.</p>
     

    That makes for a lot of variability in how hard it is to remove a wisdom tooth.

    In this picture, the fused, cone-shaped root system of the upper one should make removing it relatively easy (possibly surprisingly so).

    With the lower one, the curved nature of its front root may add a degree of difficulty when it's extracted.