When wisdom teeth are prevented from erupting into the mouth properly, they are referred to as being impacted. Teeth that have not erupted are not necessarily impacted. It may be that it is still too early in someone's dental development, and if time passes they might grow in properly.
A dentist must examine a patient's mouth and his or her X-rays to determine if the teeth are impacted or will not grow in properly. Impacted teeth may cause problems, such as infection, decay of adjacent teeth, gum disease or formation of a cyst (fluid-filled sac) or tumor from the follicle, which is the tissue that formed the crown of the tooth. Many dentists recommend removal of impacted wisdom teeth to prevent potential problems.
Erupted wisdom teeth may also need to be removed. The dentist may recommend this if the tooth is nonfunctional, interfering with the bite, badly decayed, involved with or at risk for periodontal disease, or interfering with restoration of an adjacent tooth. Once again, every case is different, and only your dentist can determine if there is a reason for you to have a tooth removed.
Reviewed: January 2012