Kids’ Wisdom Teeth Can Cause Problems if Not Removed
By around age 12 or 13, most kids will have lost all of their baby teeth and will have 28 permanent teeth. Yet, there still might be four more teeth on their way: the wisdom teeth.
What are wisdom teeth? They’re the third permanent molars. They earned the nickname “wisdom teeth” because they generally erupt in the teenage years or young adulthood, when we’re supposedly older and wiser. If all four wisdom teeth come in, it will bring the tooth count to 32.
It may seem like most people eventually have their wisdom teeth extracted, or removed. This is because it’s extremely common for the wisdom teeth to be partially or fully impacted (stuck under the tissue or bone). Dentists and oral surgeons often recommend wisdom teeth removal when impacted wisdom teeth, and even wisdom teeth that will be able to fully erupt, will create future problems.
So, what are the most common reasons why wisdom teeth should be removed? Our Naperville pediatric dentistry practice has you covered.
In this post, we’ll answer:
- When do kids get wisdom teeth?
- What are the most common wisdom teeth problems?
- What are the symptoms of wisdom teeth problems?
- Why is the early evaluation of kids’ wisdom teeth so important?
When do Kids Get Wisdom Teeth?
Can you get wisdom teeth at 13? What about at 30? Most people get their wisdom teeth between the ages of 17 and 25, however, they can erupt earlier or later than the standard age range.
Does everyone get wisdom teeth?
No, not everyone gets wisdom teeth. While most people have at least one wisdom tooth, in some people, none of the wisdom teeth develop at all.
What are the Common Wisdom Teeth Problems?
The most common wisdom teeth problems and reasons why wisdom teeth should be removed include:
Not Enough Space
By far the number one reason it’s recommended that kids’ wisdom teeth be removed is when the wisdom teeth don’t have room to erupt inside of the mouth. Typically, the mouth of a teeanger or adult can fit 28 teeth, which fills in most available space. When the wisdom teeth try to move in, they may not be able to erupt fully or they may become impacted. When the wisdom teeth are impacted, it is often necessary to have them extracted.
Another reason why wisdom teeth could need to be removed is if they are causing an infection in the surrounding tissue or will in the future. As the wisdom teeth attempt to erupt, especially in the case of partially erupted wisdom teeth, food and bacteria can get trapped in the gums, resulting in an infection known as pericoronitis. Pericoronitis can, in turn, lead to chronic pain or irritation in the gumline, swelling, problems with chewing and/or swallowing, and stiffness.
Since wisdom teeth are usually difficult to keep clean, they’re also more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease, which is another type of infection of the teeth-supporting tissues. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, once gum disease, or periodontal disease, takes root in the area of the wisdom teeth, it can be persistent and progressive. However, the problem may improve after wisdom teeth extraction.
Another wisdom teeth problem that indicates the teeth will have to be removed is if these third molars don’t come in aligned with the other teeth. Wisdom teeth can come in crooked, sideways or in otherwise less-than-ideal positions. When the wisdom teeth are misaligned, it may cause the rest of the teeth to shift over time. This can reverse the work that braces or Invisalign did and damage the surrounding teeth.
Lastly, there is a possibility that cysts can develop around the wisdom teeth. Cysts happen when the sac near the wisdom tooth is filled with liquid. These sacs of fluid can damage the surrounding areas of the mouth. Additionally, if not treated properly, this type of cyst can turn into a tumor. Even though this is a rare occurrence, a tumor requires a more intense surgical procedure than having the wisdom teeth extracted in the first place.
What are the Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Problems?
Signs of wisdom teeth problems include:
- Swollen, tender or bleeding gums in the back of the mouth
- Jaw pain
- Stiffness or swelling of the jaw
- Bad breath
- Trouble opening the mouth
- Pain and irritation in the gums
- A cyst
- Other teeth shifting as the wisdom teeth erupt
- Cavities in wisdom teeth or the teeth nearby (the wisdom teeth can be hard to reach in order to brush and floss properly)
- Sinus problems (it’s rare but upper wisdom teeth can cause sinus problems, including sinus pain, pressure, congestion and headaches)
It’s important to note that not everyone has symptoms of wisdom teeth problems, but that doesn’t mean the teeth won’t cause issues down the road. Additionally, many of the symptoms above are also symptoms of other oral health conditions, which is why it’s a good idea to have your child evaluated by a pediatric dentist if they exhibit any of the signs. A dentist can determine whether things like pain, gum inflammation, or jaw stiffness are caused by wisdom teeth or a different concern.
Why is the Early Evaluation of Kids’ Wisdom Teeth so Important?
Kids can show signs of wisdom teeth problems as early as 12 or 13 years of age, while others may not notice a problem until they’re in their 20s. Once you reach your 30s, wisdom teeth complications are much more likely to occur.
The good news is, a pediatric dentist can start keeping an eye on wisdom teeth early on. In fact, the early evaluation of kids’ wisdom teeth is extremely beneficial. Why? Well, extracting wisdom teeth before their root structure is fully formed makes the oral surgery procedure easier and the recovery faster and less painful. It also helps to reduce the risk of complications. In some cases, this could mean removing kids’ wisdom teeth in the early teen years.
While adults can still have their wisdom teeth extracted, wisdom teeth removal in patients in their 30s or older is linked to a higher rate of complications and a much longer recovery period. This is because, in adulthood, the wisdom teeth roots lengthen and the jawbone becomes more dense.
Schedule a Visit at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry for Your Child
While some people don’t require wisdom teeth removal, most of the time, these third molars can create problems now or in the future. Have kids’ wisdom teeth evaluated early by their pediatric dentist, and schedule a dental appointment if a child exhibits any of the common symptoms of wisdom teeth problems. This will ward off more serious implications down the road.
If you’re looking for the best pediatric dentist in Naperville, book a visit at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry today. Our expert dentists and team will help you keep your child’s oral health, wisdom teeth or not, on track!