What are “Wisdom” Teeth?
Most of us know a friend or family member, and perhaps even had their own experience with wisdom teeth at some point in their young adult lives. As you can gather, wisdom teeth have a rather troublesome reputation for being anything less than wise! Wisdom teeth are often referred to as “third molars” and resemble the shape and size of your molars. Most people have four of these teeth, but it is quite possible to have fewer or even none at all! These teeth are the last to erupt, between the ages of 17 and 25 when a person reaches adulthood.
Since the nineteenth nineteenth century they have been known as such it because they appear so late, at an age when a person matures into adulthood and becomes “wise.” Most people have a negative and often fearful outlook on the emergence of these teeth, but actually, if they grow in properly and fit well in the jaw and gums, they are of no concern and do not require extraction. The problem is, however, most people do not get very “wise” teeth and they do not come in as they should.
What can I Expect When These Teeth Emerge?
Sometimes, usually with most people, the jaw just doesn’t have enough space for wisdom teeth to push through the gum line properly. Lack of space causes impaction and they become “stuck” in the jawbone, which causes pain, swelling of the gum, and sometimes infection of gum tissue. Wisdom teeth can also cause other teeth to shift, resulting in a sore mouth throughout. Everyone has a different experience with their wisdom teeth. Some may experience partial eruption, when the teeth come through but don’t have enough room to fully come in; and some have too little space for them to even break the gum surface, in which they may ever erupt.
When Should These Teeth be Removed?
Your child’s dentist will monitor their teeth throughout the growing years, which is why xrays are important to your child’s development. If there are problems with these teeth, most dentists will recommend immediate removal, usually within a year’s time or less, depending on the rate of development. Since most mouths are too small to allow wisdom teeth to reach full size, it is evaluation and recommended removal will occur when your child is between 16 and 19 years old. Every child’s development is unique, so ask your dentist when he or she would recommend removing your child’s wisdom teeth. The signs for needed removal are usually obvious:
● There is pain, infection or swelling
● There are cysts or tumors (usually rare)
● There is gum disease around the wisdom tooth area
● There is tooth decay
● You have an orthodontic, restorative or periodontal treatment plan and your wisdom teeth will hinder that treatment’s effectiveness
● The wisdom teeth are partially erupted, making them more prone to bacteria and infection
● There is evidence (such as xray) of poor alignment, they are angled in any direction other than straight up or beneath the second molar.
How Does the Extraction Take Place?
Your dentist is the best source of information regarding the removal process, but it typically involves a surgical removal.The difficulty of the extraction depends on the position of the tooth and how developed it is. In a nutshell, the removal includes an incision on the gum gently detaching the tooth from the connective tissues, removing it, and suturing (sewing) the gum line back in place. Sometimes, if the tooth is too large, it may need to be cut into sections to remove it safely. Wisdom tooth extractions are performed in the dental office under local or intravenous anesthesia. You can discuss the options with your child’s dentist.
If you have questions regarding wisdom teeth and the removal process, make the wise decision to contact your dentist or schedule a consultation!