The third human molars, often called the wisdom teeth since they erupt as an individual enters adulthood, are the last teeth to erupt into the mouth.
These teeth, often lack space and may be blocked out and fail to erupt into their right position. When this happens, they are referred to as impacted teeth.
When the impacted teeth are associated with recurrent symptoms like food packing, gum swelling, pain and/or sensitivity, it is recommended that they be removed.
The procedure of removing impacted teeth is called Disimpaction. It is a minor oral surgical procedure that when well-planned, is completely safe. The dentist will often want to do an x-ray to study the root morphology and the closeness of the roots to the nerves that supply the lips, teeth and tongue. This helps to avoid damage of these nerves while doing the surgical removal of an impacted tooth. When complex, for example very close to the nerve, a referral to a maxillofacial surgeon may be indicated.
If a symptomatic wisdom tooth is left untreated, eventually it causes the teeth next to it to decay necessitating more extensive treatment and sometimes loss of more than one tooth.
Additionally, when a lower wisdom tooth is removed the opposing upper molar might also be removed. This is because the absence of the lower tooth leads to continued eruption of its upper opponent, which can cause cheek biting while also predisposing the adjacent tooth to decay.