Does Everyone Get Their Wisdom Teeth?
A person’s wisdom teeth generally emerge in their late teens to mid-twenties. It’s possible to have one, two, three, or four wisdom teeth. It’s also possible to have no wisdom teeth at all. Roughly 60% of people who have wisdom teeth have them removed to halt (or prevent) oral health problems, like swelling and overcrowding.
Keep reading for more on wisdom teeth and extraction.
When Do I Need Wisdom Teeth Removal?
In some cases, wisdom teeth erupt fully, they point in the right direction, and there’s plenty of space for them. In the majority of cases, though, wisdom teeth will need to be removed for one or more of the following reasons:
- They’re impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth are teeth that are under the gums but never actually erupt (or erupt in the wrong direction). An impacted wisdom tooth can cause quite a bit of discomfort, and it’s likely to damage surrounding tissue and bone.
- They only partially emerge. A partially emerged wisdom tooth is an ideal place for harmful bacteria to flourish.
- They crowd other teeth. Sometimes, there’s just not enough space in the back of the mouth for extra teeth. A wisdom tooth can damage other teeth, cause pain, and lead to bite issues if there’s not enough space.
- They’re damaging the jaw. Cysts can form around the new molars, which can lead to a hollowing of the jaw and nerve damage.
- They’re causing irritation. Wisdom teeth can cause the surrounding tissue to become inflamed, making it tough to practice healthy habits, like flossing and brushing.
The Best Age for Wisdom Teeth Extraction
If an x-ray shows that complications are likely, a dentist may recommend wisdom tooth removal surgery, even if your child’s wisdom teeth aren’t causing any problems right now. The young adult years are the best time to remove wisdom teeth – before the roots fully form; younger patients typically have an easier time recovering from wisdom teeth extraction.
Wisdom teeth removal at a later age carries a higher risk of complications, including heavy bleeding, numbness, and minor loss of jaw mobility.
Knowing What to Expect During Wisdom Teeth Surgery
There’s no doubt that needing surgery (or having a child who needs surgery) is scary, but knowledge is power! Ask your dentist the following questions at the consultation appointment:
- How long does the procedure take? Surgery typically takes at least one hour, but may take several hours if multiple teeth need to be removed.
- What type of anesthesia will you use? There are two types – local, where the area is numb, but the patient is awake, and general, where the patient is unconscious.
- Is there anything we need to do to prepare for the surgery? Your child may need to stop certain medications, and they may be required to fast on surgery day.
Spend some time discussing the procedure with your child before the consultation and make a list of questions together that you can ask your friendly Kool Smiles Kids Club partner dentist!