As your child’s smile develops, the last adult teeth to show up are the molars in the back of the mouth, aka the wisdom teeth. These teeth may erupt on the top and bottom of their mouth on both sides. They typically come in anytime between ages 17 and 21. While it’s always nice to have enough molars to chew food, sometimes there isn’t enough room in their jaws for their wisdom teeth to stay. They may have jawbone or soft tissue impeding the tooth’s emergence, or their presence can crowd the rest of the teeth and alter their overall bite. Neither are good for their oral health.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
When your child’s wisdom teeth impact their smile, we will generally recommend taking them out with oral surgery. Rest assured, wisdom tooth removal is a common treatment, and after your child recovers, they will be glad they are removed. Impaction happens when they haven’t erupted yet from their gums, so you can’t see them. Unfortunately, impacted wisdom teeth can cause problems.
- Overcrowding: We mentioned this already, but this can leave your child’s teeth crooked and change their bite pattern. It can eventually lead to cavities, damage their teeth, and even cause bruxism or TMJ issues.
- Pericoronitis: This is an infection in their gums from not being able to clean the partially erupted wisdom tooth. The combination of harmful oral bacteria, bits of food and dental plaque building up around the tooth can leave them with localized infection.
- Cyst development: Impaction and infection can result in a growing fluid-filled sac if left untreated. Over time, the cyst can start destroying the necessary jawbone and require a surgical bone graft to fix.
- Damaging nearby teeth: During a wisdom tooth’s eruption, if your child’s teeth are coming in angling sideways, it can damage their adjacent teeth as they push at those teeth, leaving them with problems taking place below the gum line.
Best Age for Wisdom Tooth Removal
We recommend removing your child’s impacted wisdom teeth at a young age when possible. It can help ensure that their mouth and bite stays healthy. Sometimes baby teeth may loosen and tighten up again, blocking the emergence of the adult tooth behind it, so removing it makes space for that tooth to come in all the way. When primary teeth are not taken out, the chances of wisdom teeth coming through above the primary teeth increase. Orthodontic care may be needed to correct alignment.
Removing a baby tooth begins with taking X-rays of your child’s smile to see the roots and bone structure around the wisdom tooth. Then we can plan their extraction. Your child will be made comfortable with the help of local anesthesia during the removal process. We can administer a sedative. Call us to discuss our sedative options. Then the tooth is removed using tiny instruments, making sure the surrounding bone stays intact. Stitches usually are used to close the area.
Keeping your child comfortable after their wisdom tooth removal may be done using anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Ibuprofen, along with antibiotics, may be needed. You can use ice packs to manage inflammation on the outside of the affected area. It will be important for your child to stay well hydrated and stick to eating soft foods like smoothies, soup, cottage cheese, applesauce, and mashed potatoes (and occasionally ice cream). These are easy on the surgical site. Avoid hot foods as well as seeds and nuts. Do not let them use straws or spit harshly to protect the blood clot over the extraction site.
Please call our QH Dental team in Irvine, California at 949-823-0006 with your questions or concerns about your child’s wisdom teeth, or to schedule a visit with our dentist!