By the time your child sets off on their first day of high school, they should already have their 28 adult permanent teeth.
Utilized as our first step of digestion for the rest of our lives, our permanent teeth are an incredible display of evolution.
Except…. For our wisdom teeth!
Also know as our third molars, wisdom teeth seem to cause more troubles than good for a majority of dental patients. Often becoming impacted or growing substantially crooked, what’s the point of having them in the first place?
For parents concerned about their child’s oral development, we will be looking at what wisdom teeth are for, the symptoms of impacted molars, and when you should start asking your dentist for more information.
The Purpose and Function of Wisdom Teeth
Somewhere between the ages of 17 and 21 years-old wisdom teeth start to emerge. As the last set of molars to enter the stage, our mouths are often left with little room to accommodate the extra 4 molars.
But why do they develop so late? And what are their purpose since they don’t show up until we’re almost fully developed?
Well, the good news is, that your third molars are redundant at this point. Currently, in our current societies, we have no use for wisdom teeth. Which is often why dentists recommend their extraction.
Our mouths are already crowded as it is, and an extra set of molars just adds to the risk of dental misalignment.
But, if you’re wondering why we ever hand them, anthropologists have offered a hypothesis centred around our ancestor’s diets. Mostly eating different roots, leaves, and nuts, our mouths used to have to do a lot more work than our current diets require.
The extra set of molars would have been great for grinding and chewing the tough to digest cellulose found in plants. Luckily, our foods have become a lot easier to digest through the evolution of our agricultural habits.
When Should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?
Wisdom teeth don’t always emerge. Some people may only have two ever appear, while some people may never have their wisdom teeth breach. Because of this, it is often hard to pinpoint an exact date in our lives that would suit everyone’s development.
Instead, dentists look for symptoms of impacted teeth. Generally, starting around the age of 15, your child’s dentist should start taking an interest in your child’s wisdom teeth.
Monitoring third molar’s development is incredibly important, as for a majority of us, our jaws have already grown to their fullest even before wisdom teeth come into the equation.
Due to the size limitations of our jaws, wisdom teeth have nowhere to go when they reach maturity. This results in impacted teeth.
An impacted tooth is one that is “stuck” and unable to achieve its natural position within your mouth. For wisdom teeth, this can mean a horizontal tooth or a molar that has erupted halfway.
Both of these issues are serious, as they can potentially cause infection, and a half-erupted tooth increases the chance for cavity-causing bacteria to get beneath the gum-line. The symptoms associated with impacted teeth can include swelling, irritation, stiffness, blood infections, and cysts (which can damage the tooth, bone, and surrounding tissue).
Wisdom Teeth Treatments
For most of us, the treatment for wisdom teeth issues is a simple extraction. With no use for our wisdom teeth, it is only sensible to try and reduce the harm that they may cause.
However, even though thousands upon thousands of procedures are completed without an issue, there are still risks associated with the surgery.
Firstly, wisdom teeth should be removed at their earliest possible time (if they pose an issue). For most, that is between the ages of 17-21. For many dentists, they even recommend preparing for removal before the age of 20, as the longer you wait, the stronger the roots become, as well as an increasing the likelihood of surgical complications.
These can include a painful and/or dry socket, infection of the wound, and potential damage to surrounding teeth, nerves, bone, and sinuses.
For some, they may want to weigh the benefits associated with surgery against the potential risks associated with extraction. A professional saxophone player may not be in any pain from their wisdom teeth, and extraction could possibly leave their mouth numb. Situations like these can be rare but are viable reasons to leave your third molars intact.
However, for the majority of us, extraction is the smartest decision for long-term health.
Wisdom Teeth Inspection
Want to monitor the development of your child’s wisdom teeth? Treehouse pediatric dentistry is there for you with in-depth examinations for all dental needs.
Don’t wait for their wisdom teeth to become an issue. Call now to book your child’s consultation and we’ll provide you with all the information you need to make the proper decision on wisdom teeth removal.