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What Every Parent Should Know About Wisdom Teeth

wisdom teeth extractionParents of teens and tweens often have questions about wisdom teeth. There is a lot of information about wisdom teeth available online, but it can be confusing when you try to understand what it means for your child, specifically.

The most important thing I tell all parents about wisdom teeth is that we are already thinking about them!

Every time your child comes in for a dental check-up, we review dental x-rays to monitor the growth and position of the wisdom teeth. We assess each child’s situation individually and will let you know when we think the optimal time for removal will be, if needed.

Do you have a teen who needs routine dental care and wisdom teeth extraction? Call our Vancouver, WA dental office at 360-574-3061 to learn about wisdom teeth extraction with Dr. Carl Futenma.

Wisdom Teeth: Who Needs Them?

A curious fact about wisdom teeth (the 3rd molars) is that they are not needed for proper dentition. They are a biological holdover from when we used to chew a great deal more fibrous plants and unprocessed grains, thousands of years ago. Many people do not develop wisdom teeth, in fact, or only grow a set on the top or bottom. Most of us do, however, so we have learned that they can be problematic.

Over the past few millennia, human jaws have been getting smaller, but we still grow the same number of teeth to fit into those jaws. This means wisdom teeth can cause problems when they come in. There may not be enough room for them to erupt, so they become impacted—often painfully. Even if there is room in the jaw, they can still lead to overcrowding and undo all that effort you put into straightening the teeth with orthodontics!

Why Wisdom Teeth are Often Removed

If we think your child’s wisdom teeth are going to cause eruption problems or may upset proper alignment, we usually recommend extraction. They are not needed for proper chewing, so in many ways the procedure is a preventive measure. Your child avoids potential pain and dental problems in the future by having the wisdom teeth extracted.

Even when there is ample room in the jaw for wisdom teeth to erupt, patients often choose to have them extracted, anyway. Why? Molars are harder to keep clean to begin with, due to their deep crevices, and the third molars erupt in the farthest corner of the mouth. It can be hard to manipulate a toothbrush and flossing tools so far into the mouth, and many adults develop decay in the deep ridges of the wisdom teeth. Many people who keep their wisdom teeth when they were younger find they have to get them extracted at a later date when they begin to suffer deep decay and structural damage. This can often be more traumatic than having it done before they erupt.

When is the Best Time for Wisdom Teeth Extraction?

Most children begin developing wisdom teeth in their jaws by about age ten. We can see them on a dental x-ray, even though the child won’t notice their presence and they won’t try to erupt until much later.

The ideal time for extraction will be before the teeth have erupted, at a point when the wisdom teeth have developed roots and the surrounding bone is less dense. We typically recommend extraction occur at some point between 16 and 19 years of age, but every mouth is different. Some teens will be ready for extraction at age 15, and some may not be at the ideal stage until they are 20 years old.

This is why routine dental visits are so important. They allow us to monitor the development of the wisdom teeth over a period of several years, so we can determine and advise you of the best time for extraction.

To learn more about wisdom teeth extraction, call our Vancouver, WA dental office at 360-574-3061 to make an appointment.

Call Creative Smiles for Vancouver WA wisdom teeth extraction.

When Should I Start Thinking About Wisdom Teeth Removal?

wisdom teeth removal
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.

Call our Vancouver, WA dental office at 360-574-3061 for a consultation at Creative Smiles.