Our mouths evolve like any other part of our body. Along with the change from baby teeth to adult teeth, a major dental milestone is the appearance of the wisdom teeth or third molars. This typically occurs at ages 17 through 21, leading many parents to wonder when to consider wisdom teeth extraction from an oral surgeon in Rochester, NY.
Learn more about wisdom teeth, how to determine when they should come out, and problems and complications to be aware of.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Known as third molars, wisdom teeth are molars that appear in the late teens to early adulthood. The initial evaluation of wisdom teeth should happen between the ages of 16 and 19 since wisdom teeth can develop problems quickly and require extraction.1
Wisdom teeth got their nickname because they tend to arrive at a mature age. Anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth were a solution to our ancestors’ early diet of rough food like uncooked meat, roots, and nuts, which needed more chewing power. Teeth would wear and possibly break or fall out, and the wisdom tooth could grow in to help with chewing.2
With a modern diet of softer foods and access to quality dental care, we classify wisdom teeth as vestigial or physical structures that humans no longer need due to evolution. Because of this, wisdom teeth can erupt and crowd teeth, stay stuck under the gum (impacted), or partially erupt, leading to infection and a necessary extraction.
Symptoms of Wisdom Tooth Problems
When a periodontist or oral surgeon evaluates your child for wisdom teeth extraction, they will consider the following:
- The position of the wisdom teeth for hygiene
- Whether the wisdom teeth are partially or fully erupted
- The crowding or damage to neighboring teeth
- The presence of infection or a cyst that can cause infections or damage the nearby tooth roots and jawbone
In some cases, an oral surgeon will recommend wisdom tooth extraction as a prophylactic measure to avoid problems from occurring in the future. Otherwise, wisdom teeth usually need extraction when the following symptoms are present:
- Pain or discomfort
- Gum disease
- Damage to surrounding teeth, gum, or bone
- Tooth decay
- Facial or mouth swelling
- Crowding that may impact tooth alignment or effectiveness of oral hygiene
Additionally, wisdom tooth extraction may be necessary for patients with braces since the crowding can misalign teeth after braces correct them.
Your periodontist or oral surgeon will determine the condition of your child’s wisdom teeth through an oral exam and x-rays. If the teeth aren’t removed, it’s essential to monitor them for future problems.
How Are Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
Wisdom teeth extractions are a standard surgical procedure done under local or general anesthesia. In this procedure, your oral surgeon will make an incision through the gum tissue over the wisdom tooth. Then, they detach the connective tissue between the tooth and the bone, and remove the tooth.
The tooth may need to be cut into sections for removal.
Depending on the condition of the socket, the gum may be sutured shut or left open. In some cases, some of the wisdom tooth’s bone will need to be reduced to allow the tooth to be extracted.
Many wisdom tooth extractions are done with a local anesthetic. Patients with complicated wisdom tooth cases or anxiety about dental procedures may need general anesthetic or sedation for the extraction.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction with an Oral Surgeon in Rochester, NY
While the thought of wisdom teeth extractions may be stressful for a parent, the appearance of the third molars is a natural part of development. Oral surgery is simple, relatively pain-free, and essential for preventing problems with wisdom teeth in the future. At Dental Implants & Periodontal Health of Rochester, we strive to keep our patients informed, comfortable, and as relaxed as possible. Call us at 585-685-2005 to schedule a consultation for your child or teen!