Wisdom teeth are a common dental concern for teenagers and young adults everywhere. They may speak of them with dread and expect a painful visit to the dentist because of them. There is no reason to fear these teeth! It can be helpful for every mum to have a good understanding of what these teeth are and why they are commonly such a problem.
The Third Molars
Wisdom teeth are often called third molars because that’s exactly what they are: an extra set of molars that grow in at the back of the mouth. They got their nickname because they grow in so much later than other adult teeth and represent greater maturity. The time scale for developing these teeth is age 17 to 25. If the teeth have not grown in by then, they are unlikely to ever grow.
Your child can get along just fine with or without these extra teeth. If they do grow in healthy, then there are few problems. They may even make chewing easier and more comfortable. It is important to take care of them just like any other teeth, including brushing and flossing. This can sometimes be more challenging because the third molars are so far back in the mouth.
Many people will grow two sets of third molars, two teeth on the top and two on the bottom. This is not always the case. It is common for a person to grow only a single set of third molars or none at all. Each tooth that does grow in can be treated independently. Some may cause problems and others may not.
There are a variety of reasons you may want to contact your children’s dentist about wisdom tooth removal. The first sign is often wisdom teeth pain that may come from a variety of sources.
Often, there is simply not enough room at the back of the jaw for the tooth to fit. Scientists believe that humans have evolved smaller jawbones than we used to have, so these extra teeth often do not fit in our mouths. This causes the tooth to become impacted. If left untreated, impacted teeth may cause pain and many other problems.
The tooth may push against other teeth, leading to problems with those teeth. The tooth may leave spaces or gaps that are difficult to clean and allow bacteria to grow. If the tooth does not properly or fully breach the gums, it may leave a place for bacteria to enter the gums and cause infection or gum disease. Sometimes, an impacted tooth will form a cyst. This can damage the roots of nearby teeth, causing them to rot or die. It can also lead to bone loss and further problems with other teeth.
Even if a wisdom tooth does grow in a correct manner and fits in the mouth, it still needs to be monitored. These teeth can still cause problems later. Since they are more difficult to clean and maintain, they are more vulnerable to cavities and gum disease.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Once the decision is made to remove the teeth, a children’s dentist can perform the procedure. While having a tooth extracted is never fun, many people assume it will be worse than it is. Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgery, so it is important to take it seriously. This means having a good conversation with the dentist prior to the surgery to discuss any medications your child is taking or health problems they have that may affect the surgery.
This is especially true if they have a disease that affects clotting or are taking medications that thin the blood. The dentist can answer any questions and should thoroughly explain the process and the recovery. A patient can usually choose what kind of anesthesia he or she wants. A local anesthesia may be used to ensure your child doesn’t feel any pain during the surgery but will still be awake. Local anesthesia is delivered through a shot into the gums.
You Can Laugh Too…
Sedatives may be used in addition to local anesthesia. Nitrous oxide also called laughing gas, will help your child feel drowsy and relaxed so the procedure is easier. A sedative can also be delivered through IV to help your child relax. These methods are not as powerful as general anesthesia, but they are easier on the body. They are also short-acting and will wear off quickly after surgery.
Alternatively, a general anesthesia can be used to put your child fully unconscious. This is often a matter of preference, but certain health conditions or medications may prohibit the use of general anesthesia. There is usually a greater risk of complications under general anesthesia. It may take an hour or so for your child to awaken after surgery under general anesthesia.
The time scale for recovery varies from person to person. Recovery directly after surgery may depend on the type of anesthetic used. Your child may be able to drive or return to work or school soon after surgery if only a local anesthetic was used, but it is a good idea to drive them home. They should not return to regular activities that day if a general anesthetic was used.
Most people have little pain after the surgery, but there may be discomfort and swelling for several days. Your child may need a few weeks to heal completely. The first few days after surgery are the most important for recovery. Blood clots will have formed in the spaces where the teeth were removed. Damage to these clots can greatly slow healing and may result in a painful condition called dry socket.
Give To Your Child…
Give your child soft foods such as soups or pasta to eat and avoid tough or crunchy foods. Your child should avoid sucking, especially sucking through straws. This may dislodge the blood clot, leading to dry socket. It may be a good idea to ice the jaw and take any recommended medications to reduce pain and swelling.
If pain becomes intense, swelling worsens or does not decrease after a few days, you may want to contact the dentist again for a follow-up appointment. These symptoms could indicate dry socket or an infection. Such complications are rare, and they afflict only 2-5 percent of patients.
Contact us Today
Wisdom teeth are a fact of life for many teens and young adults. Every mum can ease her child’s fears of having these teeth pulled with a healthy dose of knowledge and some TLC at home. If your child is experiencing wisdom teeth pain, it is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Engel at Kinder Smiles as soon as possible.
Contact us today to see why we do what we do.
KinderSmiles Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
400 Kinderkamack Rd.
Oradell, NJ 07649
Wisdom Teeth (A Mum’s Effective Guide)