A partially erupted tooth is a tooth that has not fully emerged through the gums. Partially erupted teeth are especially hard to clean around and they are susceptible to gingivitis. When gingivitis occurs in the area around a partially erupted tooth, the condition is known as pericoronitis. It is most common in wisdom teeth, which can often be impacted, and may remain only slightly protruding through the gum line.
In particular, if the wisdom teeth on the upper jaw emerge before those on the lower jaw, the upper tooth may bite down on the impacted tooth, which can cause irritation and increase the odds of infection.
If you develop pericoronitis, your dentist may start by flushing out the area around the impacted tooth to remove debris. Then he or she may take an X-ray to see whether the tooth is likely to emerge. If the tooth looks likely to remain impacted, the dentist will probably recommend having both the upper and lower wisdom teeth removed. Sometimes both teeth will be removed during the same dental visit, yet some dentists advise doing them on separate occasions. It’s generally a good idea to remove both top and bottom wisdom teeth if either is likely to remain impacted if you want to avoid the increased risk of gingivitis due to tooth misalignment.