If you have children, you may be wondering what you should know about wisdom teeth removal. Do wisdom teeth have to come out? When is the best time to have them removed? Are there any health benefits to keeping one’s wisdom teeth?
At Creative Smiles, Dr. Carl Futenma can answer all your questions and help you determine the right timing for wisdom teeth removal—if it is, indeed, necessary for your child. Call our Vancouver, WA dental office at 360-574-3061 for a consultation at Creative Smiles.
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the very last adult teeth to cut through the gums. Also called the third molars, these teeth erupt during a teenager’s transition to early adulthood, hence the name.
Wisdom teeth have become mostly unnecessary for food consumption in the past two thousand years; few humans eat great quantities of unprocessed grains and fibrous vegetables any more. Over time, the human jaw seems to be getting smaller, as well, and more and more people are born without some of their wisdom teeth.
Why are wisdom teeth extracted?
Many people choose to have wisdom teeth removed before they erupt to prevent crowding and misalignment, and to promote good oral health. If your teeth have been carefully aligned by orthodontic treatments, keeping your wisdom teeth may send them into a state of misalignment again. Additionally, wisdom teeth that try to erupt into an already-crowded mouth may become painfully impacted.
It is not absolutely necessary to remove wisdom teeth, but many people elect to have them removed to prevent problems in the future. For example, some patients are told they have “plenty of room” for their wisdom teeth, and that they don’t need to have them removed. Often those same patients will have them extracted later in life, after they have developed deep cavities or suffered deep cracks and breaks that lead to infection. The truth is that wisdom teeth’s extreme location in the back of the mouth makes them very hard to keep clean.
Should everyone have their wisdom teeth removed?
Dr. Futenma assesses each case individually, recommending removal in cases in which future oral health may be complicated by their presence.
Ideally, we will monitor a child’s development over several years and can watch the wisdom teeth when they form, assess their position, and determine when to remove them, if needed. This is one of the reasons why we take regular dental x-rays throughout the teenage years.
When is the best time for extraction?
Since every mouth is different, the ideal age for extracting wisdom teeth will vary. The best time is when the teeth’s roots are 50-70 percent developed. This allows us to remove the teeth quickly and reduce the risk of complications.
This milestone usually occurs between the ages of 15-19 years. Sometimes we see wisdom tooth roots develop at a younger age, which is why we like to monitor tooth development throughout childhood. If your child is receiving routine dental health check-ups, we will check the development of wisdom teeth on every dental x-ray and intraoral scan.
If you are thinking about wisdom teeth removal for your teenager, call Creative Smiles for a consultation with Dr. Carl Futenma. We will help you understand your child’s unique anatomy, so you can make an informed decision about wisdom teeth removal.