Wisdom teeth are the very last set of molars to erupt. For some of us, they form but never erupt at all, or only partially. The benefits of wisdom teeth removal are primarily for the health of other teeth in your child’s mouth. Because of their location, wisdom teeth frequently press against neighboring teeth or get infected, putting adjacent teeth at risk. Our Brighton dentists consistently monitor your child or teen’s oral development, to stay ahead of wisdom tooth problems whenever possible.
The biggest benefits of getting wisdom teeth removed are reducing your risk of unnecessary, preventable oral infections, decay, gum disease, and crowded teeth.
Problems Caused by Wisdom Teeth
It’s hard to appreciate the proactive approach to removing wisdom teeth without understanding the common problems that they cause. Since wisdom teeth often lack adequate spacing to erupt completely, they tend to become impacted or partially impacted in the jaw. This can lead to common complications like:
Decay or periodontal disease. Even teens with exceptionally great oral hygiene can be at risk for cavities and gum disease around their wisdom teeth. Since third molars are difficult to reach or may only be partially erupted, they tend to become infected quite easily. Although it’s possible to treat cavities and gum infections, wisdom teeth tend to have recurring issues that pose long-term problems. The standard of care is to remove these teeth, as opposed to constantly treating and re-treating them. Especially since both of these infections can spread into adjacent teeth.
Cysts and facial swelling. Every tooth has a natural eruption cyst that forms around it, then goes away once the tooth erupts. But this is not always the case with wisdom teeth, especially if they are impacted. The cyst may continue to grow, leading to swelling in the jaw or face. Inflammation also tends to cause pain from the pressure that it creates.
Damage to adjacent teeth or bone structure. Infected or impacted wisdom teeth are a risk to the structures next to them. Since they typically become re-infected quite easily, bacteria tend to “jump” to neighboring teeth, putting them at risk. And if there are cysts around the wisdom tooth, they can cause significant bone damage. By removing the at-risk wisdom teeth, you’re minimizing the risk of infection in the other healthy teeth.
Sometimes wisdom tooth removal is strictly because of the benefit to the other teeth in your child’s mouth.
Crowded, crooked teeth. As wisdom teeth develop, they tend to push into the teeth next to them. This can create a chain reaction where teeth begin shifting throughout the mouth, tilting toward the midline (front middle teeth.) If your teen has or previously had braces, this could lead to orthodontic relapse and the need for re-treatment.
Pain. The pressure of wisdom teeth tends to come and go. It isn’t something that happens for a few days and then goes away. It usually flares up, dies down, then comes back, with the cycle repeating itself over several months or years until they’re removed.
When to Remove Wisdom Teeth
Our Brighton dentists usually recommend removing wisdom teeth before they start causing unwanted side effects. On average, that’s typically somewhere between the ages of 16-18, but it can vary outside of that. Some kids take advantage of the benefits of getting wisdom teeth removed earlier than that, or when they come back between college semesters.
Since wisdom teeth can continue growing well into the late 20s, it’s usually ideal to remove them well before that point. Especially since it’s more challenging to take longer periods of time off for recovery when you have a career and family to raise.
It’s best to monitor wisdom teeth to spot possible problems before they form, then remove them as a proactive treatment. As opposed to waiting until your child is in pain from swelling or an infection.
Should Your Teen Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
One of the benefits of getting wisdom teeth removed during high school is managing potential problems caused by wisdom teeth before your son or daughter heads off to college. It also reduces the chances of painful flare-ups or infections throughout the school year, interfering with big events and milestones that they’ve been looking forward to.
At Kids City Dental, our Brighton dentists will evaluate your teen’s wisdom teeth at periodic stages to monitor their development. If we see that there are potential concerns or the teeth have reached a certain stage of growth, we may recommend going ahead and scheduling a wisdom tooth removal.
Reserve an exam and full-mouth imaging for your teen today to check on their wisdom teeth! We’ll be happy to answer any questions that you have.