Children often go to their pediatric dentist office for exams well into their adolescence. As a result, most pediatric dentists are well prepared to handle teenage dental procedures. One of the most common procedures adolescents go through? Extraction of their wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth, also called ‘third molars’, are theorized to be leftover genetics from ancient humans. Generally, modern people no longer need wisdom teeth, and in fact most mouths are too small to accommodate them. A modest percentage of people naturally have genes that result in missing or no wisdom teeth, but most people will see the typical four wisdom teeth appear in the very back of their mouths between the ages of 15 and 19.
So what can you and your teen expect from their wisdom teeth? During their regular checkups, their dentist will look for evidence of their wisdom teeth moving in and keep an eye on their emergence. In a few cases, there is enough room in the mouth for the wisdom teeth to comfortably settle and no procedure will be recommended.
In other cases, there is very little room for the wisdom tooth to emerge, and it will become impacted or partially erupted, which means they are blocked from emerging fully, maybe by a neighboring tooth. This can cause pain, inflammation, infection, damage to neighboring teeth, and (in very, very rare cases) tumor development. Because of the risks, your child’s dentist may want to have the wisdom teeth extracted as soon as possible to minimize discomfort and damage.
Maybe only one or two of the wisdom teeth need to extracted, or maybe all four will be done at once. The strategy, aftercare, and type of anesthesia will be discussed with you and your teen by your dentist. Typically a dentist can perform a wisdom tooth extraction under general anesthesia in their office, but in some cases they may refer you to an oral surgeon.
Your teen may miss some school or extracurricular activities due to the pain and tiredness they are feeling after an extraction. Alert teachers, coaches, etc. ahead of time. The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools has reported that around 51 million school hours are lost each year due to childrens dental procedures and illness, but a pre-planned procedure should be perfectly excusable for any school or organization your child attends.