Wisdom teeth extraction is fairly common, especially for teens. What most parents want to know, though, is are these extractions always necessary, or are there some instances where they can be skipped?
Skilled in teen dentistry, the team at Dental Kidz Club recommends wisdom teeth extraction for different reasons — and yes, there are some teens who may not need to have their wisdom teeth pulled. If you’re wondering what’s best for your child’s oral health, here’s what you — and your teen — should know about wisdom teeth treatment.
The basics of wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth are the very back molars — the “third” molars — that typically erupt in the late teens or early 20s. As the last teeth to emerge, wisdom teeth are often challenged by overcrowding, vying for limited space in a mouth that’s already “full” of adult teeth.
When there isn’t enough room for a wisdom tooth to emerge “normally,” you can wind up with crowding or impaction, a painful condition where the wisdom tooth is trapped or blocked by the neighboring molar. Both of these problems can cause severe pain and serious oral health problems, including problems with your child’s bite mechanics.
Depending on your teen’s jaw size and other factors, there may or may not be ample room for wisdom teeth. If your child’s wisdom teeth erupt without issue, you might consider forgoing extraction. But even in these cases, having wisdom teeth pulled can still be a good choice.
Benefits of wisdom teeth extraction
When wisdom teeth are impacted, the benefits of extraction are pretty obvious. Impacted teeth can cause extreme pain and swelling, often leading to infections, abscesses, or cysts. Plus, the impacted tooth puts a lot of pressure on the neighboring tooth. In time, that tooth can wind up falling out.
But what about if your wisdom teeth come in straight and aligned, without causing discomfort? Should they still be pulled? Often, the answer is still yes — and it all has to do with their location.
Reservoirs of bacteria
Wisdom teeth are located far back in your jaw, near the “hinge” joint. Their location makes them very hard to clean, especially along the gums and the back side of the tooth. These areas are often plagued by plaque, a sticky substance that attracts disease-causing bacteria.
Plaque deposits can soon turn to hardened tartar that can’t be removed even if you’re able to reach it with a brush or floss. The bacteria found in plaque and tartar lead to gum disease, a leading cause of adult tooth loss and deep infections. Having wisdom teeth removed prophylactically — that is, before any problems begin — means you can avoid those problems for the rest of your life.
Another good reason to have wisdom teeth removed during the teen years: The tooth roots haven’t fully developed, and shorter roots make for easier extractions. Plus, the jaw bone isn’t as dense during youth as it is during older age — another factor that leads to simpler extractions.
Learn more about wisdom teeth extraction
Today’s wisdom teeth extractions use state-of-the-art pain management techniques, including sedation dentistry, to keep your kids comfortable during both treatment and recovery.
To learn more about wisdom teeth extractions at Dental Kidz Club and whether they’re a good choice for your child, book an appointment online or over the phone at one of our practices in Brea, Chino, Corona, Covina, Riverside, Ontario, or Perris, California.