For many years it seemed like nearly everyone had their wisdom teeth removed as a teenager or young adult, but is it really needed?
In recent years, many researchers and public health officials have stated that removing healthy wisdom teeth is not required, however, there are circumstances when removing wisdom teeth is beneficial, and even necessary.
Wisdom teeth usually grow in between the ages of seventeen to twenty-five and should be evaluated early by a dentist. If they are causing symptoms, or your dentist has reason to believe they will cause future problems, it is best to extract them while still young. Recovery is usually faster as a teenager because the older you get the harder it is to recover. Waiting may also cause complications that could have been avoided if the wisdom teeth were removed while the patient was younger.
So then, what circumstances cause your dentist to recommend removing wisdom teeth?
Anytime wisdom teeth are creating problems or are likely to cause future problems and negatively impact the health of your mouth, your dentist will recommend extraction of wisdom teeth. At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry, we thoroughly evaluate your wisdom teeth and their impact on the health of your mouth before making a recommendation and will take as much time as is necessary to answer all of your questions and concerns.
Pain and infection sometimes requires wisdom tooth extraction. Infections are caused when a flap of gum tissue covers some of a partially grown in wisdom tooth and food or bacteria get trapped in between the tooth and gum. The gums become red, swollen and painful which are signs of infection. When gums are inflamed, the bacteria grow, and the tooth is harder to clean which leads to cavities.
Wisdom teeth that come in at the wrong angle, or crowd other teeth need to be extracted. If there is not enough room in your mouth, other teeth will shift and move to create room for the new teeth. Crowded teeth are more difficult to clean, and this can lead to increased risk of cavities and gum disease. Wisdom teeth that are in the wrong position can even damage your other teeth.
A wisdom tooth that cannot break through the jaw into the mouth is impacted. An impacted tooth can damage nearby teeth and cause crowding. A cyst can also form around the impacted tooth and cause damage to teeth, nerves and your jaw.
The official name for grinding teeth is called bruxism, and this condition includes clenching, grinding or gnashing teeth, while asleep or awake. As many as 3 out of 10 kids grind or clench, but many outgrow it. The most common times for teeth grinding are when baby teeth emerge and when permanent teeth come in. There are many suspected reasons for grinding and many times it does not cause harm, but it definitely should be monitored. In most instances, it is important to speak with a dentist about a child’s grinding or clenching.
Grinding is a natural reaction to growth and development, and toddlers and young children may use it to relieve pain caused by shifting of teeth as permanent teeth come in. In this situation bruxism is temporary and often stops when the pain does. Normally it is harmless and does not need treatment but is still worth mentioning to your child’s dentist at their regular checkup.
Some kids continue grinding or clenching through adolescence and there are many reasons they may do so. Possible causes range from improperly aligned teeth, to sleep disorders, anger, stress or anxiety. Bruxism has been seen in patients with acid reflux, autism, cerebral palsy, and hyperactivity.
With all these reasons for extraction, when is it ever a good idea to keep your wisdom teeth?
Good news! If your wisdom teeth are healthy, completely erupted in the correct position, and bite properly with their opposing teeth, it is fine to leave them in. Just be sure to brush and floss them well to avoid infections and cavities, and you can enjoy using these extra teeth for the rest of your life.
At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.