If your son or daughter is in high school or about to go to college, chances are their wisdom teeth are about to emerge. You remember having yours removed years ago, so your child will probably need the same procedure, right? But are you sure? Even with a surgery as common and routine as a wisdom tooth extraction, it’s important to know why it’s done and when it’s actually necessary. Here’s everything you need to know about these “extra” teeth and why they might need to come out.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are a third set of molars in the very back of the mouth; they usually come in during the late teens or early twenties. Often, they’ll either be misaligned or impacted (meaning they’re unable to break through the gums) due to there not being enough space in the mouth.
Why Are Wisdom Teeth Often Removed?
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause all sorts of problems. For one, they can collide with the roots of other teeth, which is extremely painful. They’re also a prime target for bacterial infection when partially erupted because their awkward position makes them difficult to brush or floss. They can even wear down the adjacent teeth and cause other dental issues.
When Would I Not Need to Remove My Wisdom Teeth?
In some cases, wisdom teeth can come in normally without disrupting the other teeth. If this happens, it may be possible to safely keep them if you’re able to adequately brush and floss in that area. This way, you can avoid the discomforts associated with surgery.
How Will I Know Whether My Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed?
Your dentist can use X-rays to see how wisdom teeth are developing and whether they’ll be able to erupt without issue. If they’re impacted, crowding other teeth, or causing pain or infection, an extraction is usually recommended. Oral changes in the same area as the wisdom teeth (such as cysts, tumors, gum disease and extensive tooth decay) can also prompt removal.
Many dentists recommend that an extraction be performed before the age of 20 since the bones and roots of the teeth are softer at that age. If you’re the parent of a teenager who hasn’t had their wisdom teeth removed yet, make sure you keep their regular appointments and ask questions about developments in their mouth. Whether surgery is necessary or not, it’s important to be vigilant early on so that potential oral health problems can be addressed as quickly as possible.
About the Author
Dr. Gilbertó Lopez has been practicing dentistry for over 25 years. He believes that everyone should have access to quality dental care and regularly participates in mission trips to underprivileged countries. At his practice, New Smile Dental, he makes a point of providing a friendly, relaxing, and caring atmosphere. To ask about wisdom teeth removal, visit his website or call (479) 434-4277.