Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to emerge, usually during the late teens to early twenties. For some people the wisdom teeth erupt and have enough room to function comfortably. For others, wisdom teeth often cause problems as they are try to come in. A fully impacted tooth cannot grow into function because of its eruption angle. It may be laying on its side or coming in toward an existing molar and not straight through the gum line. This might cause damage to an existing tooth.
Wisdom teeth that are only partially impacted have a flap of gum still covering them. It is called an operculum. This can provide a place for bacteria to grow since it is a hard area to clean. Retained bacteria can cause pain and swelling of this tissue in a condition known as pericoronitis. Surgical removal of the tissue may provide some relief.
Wisdom tooth removal is usually recommended in consultation with the patient's orthodontist and an oral surgeon. A panorex xray will give information as to the location of the roots relative to vital nerves and sinuses.