Just when you think your child’s teenage troubles are over, it happens – a new set of teeth start coming in. Called wisdom teeth, these troublemakers are a set of four teeth that pop up at the back of the jaw and start making themselves known around the age of 17 or 18.
If they’re healthy and positioned properly, wisdom teeth are no problem. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth often need to be removed. In deciding whether to remove these late arrivals, your dentist will consider many factors, including:
- Does your mouth have four empty parking spaces? If there’s not enough room for your wisdom teeth, they’ll try to squeeze themselves in any way they can. But just like a car trying to slide into a space that’s too small, wisdom teeth often become impacted and even damage their next-door neighbours. They can even grow sideways or stay trapped underneath the gums and bone. This can cause your other teeth to move out of alignment and cause crooked teeth or an incorrect bite. Not a good thing if you’ve already invested in braces for that award-winning smile.
- Sometimes they get stuck halfway. This leaves an opening for germs to enter and cause an infection. Pain, swelling, a stiff jaw and general illness can result.
- If left untreated, a sac filled with fluid, or cyst, can develop which can destroy the surrounding bone or tooth roots.
To avoid these complications, it’s best to have your children’s wisdom teeth checked by your dentist. He’ll let you know if they have enough room or if it’s better to take them out before they cause problems.