The removal of wisdom teeth has become so commonplace that it is almost a riteright of passage for young adults. Wisdom teeth are a type of molar that is found in the very back of your child's mouth. There are four wisdom teeth: upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right. These teeth usually appear in the late teens or early twenties but may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. The most common type of impacted wisdom tooth is “mesial,” meaning that the tooth is angled forward toward the front of your child's mouth.
When a tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed. If it is not removed, your child may develop gum tenderness, swelling, or even severe pain. Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully erupted tend to be quite difficult to clean and are susceptible to tooth decay, recurring infections, and even gum disease.
Each patient’s situation is unique, and your child's dentist will take x-rays and discuss your child's particular needs with you. If the dentist recommends removal of your child's wisdom teeth, it is best to have them removed sooner rather than later. As a general rule, wisdom teeth are removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the teeth’s roots have not fully formed, and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make extraction easier.
In order to remove a wisdom tooth, the dentist first needs access to it. To make this process most comfortable, your child's dentist will numb the area with a local anesthetic. The dentist can even use additional medication to safely sedate your child during the extraction if heyour child is feeling nervous about the procedure. Because the impacted tooth is frequently under the gums and still encased in the jaw bone, your child's dentist will need to remove a portion of the covering bone to extract the tooth. To minimize the amount of bone that must be removed, the dentist will often “section” the wisdom tooth so that each section can be removed through a small opening in the bone.
Once the teeth have been extracted, the healing process begins. Healing time varies depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction. Your child's dentist will share what to expect and provide instructions for an efficient healing.