The prophylactic removal of asymptomatic impacted wisdom teeth is defined as the (surgical) removal of wisdom teeth in the absence of local disease. Impacted wisdom teeth may be associated with pathological changes, such as inflammation of the gums around the tooth, root resorption, gum and alveolar bone disease, damage to the adjacent teeth and the development of cysts and tumours. Other reasons to justify prophylactic removal have been to prevent late incisor crowding. When surgical removal is carried out in older patients, following the development of symptoms, the risk of postoperative complications, pain and discomfort increases. Nevertheless, in most developed countries prophylactic removal of trouble-free wisdom teeth, either impacted or fully erupted, has long been considered as 'appropriate care' and is a very common procedure. There is a need to determine whether there is evidence to support this practice.