Also called third molars, wisdom teeth usually make their first appearance in young adults between the ages of 17 and 21. However, an initial evaluation of the wisdom teeth should be performed between the ages of 16 and 19.
Because most mouths are too small for these four additional molars, an extraction (removal) procedure is often necessary. You don’t want to wait until it becomes a problem to deal with. Nothing is worse than pulling your child out of school to get dental work done that could have been performed at a more convenient time, such as the summer months when classes are out.
What Does the Procedure Entail?
Before removing a wisdom tooth, your dentist will give your child a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be removed. A general anesthetic may be used, especially if several or all of their wisdom teeth will be removed at the same time. A general anesthetic prevents pain in the whole body and will cause a person to sleep through the procedure. Your dentist will probably recommend that your child not eat or drink after midnight on the night before surgery so that they are prepared for the anesthetic.
To remove the wisdom tooth, your child’s dentist will open up the gum tissue over the tooth and take out any bone that is covering the tooth. He or she will separate the tissue connecting the tooth to the bone and then remove the tooth. Sometimes the dentist will cut the tooth into smaller pieces to make it easier to remove. After the tooth is removed, your child may need stitches. Some stitches dissolve over time and some have to be removed after a few days. Your dentist will tell you whether your child’s stitches need to be removed. A folded cotton gauze pad placed over the wound will help stop the bleeding.
When is Removal Needed?
When wisdom teeth cause problems, or X-rays show they might down the line, they need to come out. Other good reasons to take them out include:
- Damage to other teeth: That extra set of molars can push your other teeth around, causing mouth pain and bite problems.
- Jaw damage: Cysts can form around the new teeth. If they aren’t treated, they can hollow out your jaw and damage nerves.
- Sinus Issues: Problems with wisdom teeth can lead to sinus pain, pressure, and congestion.
- Inflamed Gums: Tissue around the area can swell and may be hard to clean.
- Cavities: Swollen gums can create pockets between teeth that help bacteria grow and cavities form.
- Alignment: Impacted wisdom teeth can undo the effects of braces, bridges, crowns, partial dentures, or any type of dental work.
Is your child not ready to part with their molars? You can ask your dentist to explain to them the cons of not dealing with this serious issue. In many cases, you can wait several months to see if things change before making your decision as a parent. But if your child has pain or notices swelling or a bad odor near their back teeth, it may be time for a second look.