If you have a teen, you might be wondering how to watch for signs of wisdom tooth eruption. Knowing what to look for can help you keep your child’s teeth healthy today, when they head off to college, and decades into the future.
When Do Wisdom Teeth Start Growing?
Believe it or not, many of your child’s wisdom teeth start developing years before you ever see any signs of impaction. But most wisdom teeth start “growing in” and trying to erupt sometime during the teen or high school years.
However, wisdom teeth continue developing and growing well into a person’s mid to late 20’s. So even if your teen is able to tough out some of the side-effects of wisdom tooth pain, they aren’t in the clear just yet. Those teeth might not fully grow in until they’re almost 30 years old.
Signs of Wisdom Teeth Eruption
Some of the most common wisdom tooth symptoms to experience include:
- Movement/shifting in other teeth
- Jaw discomfort
- Food getting caught after meals
If your teen is experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend taking a full-mouth panoramic X-ray to see exactly what’s going on inside of their mouth. A panoramic film shows us the entire anatomy of the jaws, teeth, and areas immediately around them.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed?
Since wisdom teeth erupt at the back of the mouth, it’s easy for them to become impacted against the neighboring teeth or jawbone. When that happens, they can damage the adjacent, healthy teeth. Even if they erupt partially through the gums, wisdom teeth are extremely difficult to clean. This places them at a statistically higher risk of developing cavities and gum disease. Again, either condition can jeopardize the other teeth in the mouth. It’s best to proactively remove the impacted wisdom teeth before additional side effects occur.
Another issue worth noting is the pressure that wisdom teeth put on the overall bite. If your teen is currently wearing braces or already completed their orthodontic treatment, you know how important it is to protect your family’s investment. Unfortunately, the pressure that wisdom teeth place on the ones next to them can cause your child’s bite to crowd together or shift out of alignment in some cases. Early intervention can prevent unnecessary re-treatment or time in braces.
Does Every Teen Need Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
No. In fact, some get as lucky enough as to have congenitally missing wisdom teeth. Or the third molars may be so small that they don’t interfere with anything. The key is to carefully monitor your child’s oral development, tooth position, and do what’s in the best interest of their overall wellness and oral health.
You might be wondering, “Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed at all?” One reason is that-thanks to great preventative care-today’s teens can preserve and protect their smiles better than in previous generations. That means there’s less of a risk of premature tooth loss, or extra space for wisdom teeth to try to “fill in.” However, our genetics don’t know that! So, these extra molars continue to develop as an extra set of grinding teeth that erupt at a later age.
When to See an Oral Surgeon or Pediatric Dentist
Wheat Ridge families who have concerns about their child’s wisdom teeth can visit Kid Focus Dentistry for an exam and consultation. Our dentists will evaluate the position and size of each wisdom tooth to provide further guidance.
It’s best to address third molars at the earliest signs of wisdom teeth eruption. This might be anywhere between ages 14-18, give or take. Every teen is different. You’ll probably want to see a specialist or talk to a pediatric dentist before your child graduates or moves off to college when impacted wisdom teeth can be harder to manage. During school holidays such as spring break or summer vacation are excellent times to plan for a wisdom tooth removal.
Contact Kid Focus Dentistry in Wheat Ridge today to reserve an exam for your teen!