Wisdom teeth, which are also called third molars, are the four teeth in the very back of the mouth that typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 21, although they may come in earlier or later in some patients. When wisdom teeth come in correctly, they can be helpful with chewing, however, wisdom teeth can often be problematic if there is not enough space for them to erupt or if they become impacted or come in misaligned. These issues are quite common, as approximately 85% of the population need their wisdom teeth extracted sometime during their lifetimes. Pediatric dentist Dr. Holt and his staff can monitor the development of the wisdom teeth long before they erupt. Contact Kids Dental in Plano and Carrollton for an appointment. Learn more about other dental issues on our Dental Topics page.
As wisdom teeth begin to emerge, it is normal to experience some discomfort since the gums become thicker as we mature. More intense wisdom tooth pain can be a sign that something more serious could be happening that may need to be addressed.
Wisdom tooth eruption symptoms can include:
- Red and/or irritated back gums
- Pain or swelling in the jaws or cheeks
- Difficulty chewing
- Cold sensitivity
- Tingling sensation in the cheeks when resting on the hands or a pillow
When to Have Wisdom Teeth Extracted
Even before your child’s wisdom teeth emerge, your pediatric dentist can monitor their progress through dental x-rays. In this way, potential problems can be addressed before the wisdom teeth ever erupt. Dealing with wisdom teeth problems detected prior to eruption can help avoid more serious issues later after the roots have fully formed.
Your dentist may recommend extraction if the wisdom teeth:
- Are impacted (trapped in the jaw or under the gums)
- Are causing problems with or shifting other teeth
- Become infected
- Are contributing to gum disease
- Come in misaligned
- Are causing chronic pain
- Show signs of dental cavities
- Cause cysts to develop
- Are difficult to brush or floss due to space restrictions
Symptoms of wisdom teeth problems, such as impaction or infection include:
- Swollen jaw
- Throbbing pain around eruption site
- Tender, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Swollen neck glands
- Bad breath
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
Extracting Wisdom Teeth
If your dentist recommends removing one or more of your child’s wisdom teeth, the procedure can range from a simple extraction to a surgical extraction. During a simple extraction, the affected area is numbed and the tooth is loosened with a specialized tool called an elevator and then removed with dental forceps. Recovery typically involves a few days of mild soreness and keeping the area rinsed and clean.
A surgical extraction may be necessary if the wisdom tooth remains below the gum line. The procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis. During the extraction, the gum is cut in order to get to the tooth and remove it in its entirety. In some cases, the tooth is broken apart to make removal easier. Your oral surgeon will instruct you on pain medication and proper care for the incision site before you are sent home. Most patients are able to resume normal activities the day after wisdom tooth extraction.
Keeping Wisdom Teeth
Even if the wisdom teeth erupt properly and are not causing problems, your dentist will continue to monitor them after they have fully emerged since they have the potential to create future dental issues. Because they are often hard to reach, wisdom teeth can easily develop cavities. Careful brushing and flossing and visiting your dentist regularly for check-ups will help avoid wisdom teeth complications, as well as ensure good dental health.
If your child is experiencing symptoms of wisdom tooth eruption or having wisdom tooth problems, please contact the pediatric dental specialists at Kids Dental, where we know kids’ teeth as well as we know kids.
At Kids Dental, we offer comprehensive, family-centered pediatric dental care in a child-friendly nurturing environment. If you are looking for a place to call your dental home, please schedule a consultation with one of our pediatric dentists by completing an Online Appointment Request or calling either office.