Nobody wants to hear that their child has to have surgery. But when it comes to wisdom teeth, around 90% of Americans have had theirs removed. The treatment is pretty easy, but why is it such a common procedure? At our pediatric dental office in Chattanooga, we have the scoop on why so many people have their wisdom teeth taken out.
The top reason wisdom teeth need to be removed is that there isn’t enough room in the mouth for these four back molars, or “third molars,” to fit. Through dental x-rays, we can tell whether or not there will be enough space for wisdom teeth pretty early in their development. When caught early, removal tends to be easier. However, if wisdom teeth continue to develop into an area where they can’t fit, they can cause healthy teeth to shift or become overcrowded. Wisdom teeth can also become impacted, or essentially become stuck in the bone or gums. Impacted wisdom teeth can be painful and surgery may be a bit more complicated. This is one reason regular visits to your pediatric dentist in Chattanooga are so important.
Let’s say your child is one of the rare people whose wisdom teeth grow in nice and straight, and there’s plenty of room for them to safely erupt. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t put them in the clear. Since wisdom teeth are located all the way in the back of the mouth, they can be difficult to brush and floss effectively. When teeth can’t be thoroughly cleaned, bacteria are left behind to cause cavities and can even lead to gum disease. Extraction may still be recommended if there’s concern over proper care.
While it’s pretty rare, there are times when wisdom teeth grow in perfectly fine, people are able to keep great care of them, and they don’t increase the chance of greater problems. When this happens, it may be best to let them be. Additionally, some people may never have to worry about whether to leave their wisdom teeth or get them removed because sometimes, the teeth just don’t develop.
Typically, wisdom teeth surgery is recommended for people between 18 and 20. However, your dentist may recommend that wisdom teeth come out sooner rather than later. Regular visits to your pediatric dentist in Chattanooga can help catch any potential problems with your child’s wisdom teeth before they arise so we can make the best recommendation for them.