Parents often find themselves discussing their child’s wisdom teeth with a dental professional when their child reaches their teen or early adult years. This is because wisdom teeth, the third set of adult molars, typically erupt in young people between the ages of 17 and 25. In some cases, a young person’s wisdom teeth may not have yet erupted, but they can be seen on X-ray. Either way, there are multiple reasons that your healthcare providers at Wake Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry recommend wisdom teeth extraction for their young patients. Dr. Ken Benson, our board certified oral surgeon, is happy to consult with any patient and their family about wisdom teeth.
Preparing for Orthodontic Treatment
Not every orthodontic patient gets fitted for braces during their early teens. For a variety of reasons, some teens are not fitted with braces until they are in their late teens or early 20s. In these cases, as part of a complete treatment plan, a dentist will frequently encourage their patient to get their wisdom teeth removed before getting fitted for braces. It’s not uncommon for wisdom teeth to crowd out adjacent adult teeth as they erupt. If wisdom teeth were allowed to do this while an individual received orthodontic treatment, it would hamper the purpose of wearing braces. Since braces are often a significant financial investment, it is wise to remove those teeth in order to receive the full benefit of orthodontic treatment.
Other Wisdom Teeth Issues
There are several other reasons that factor into a dentist’s decision to recommend wisdom teeth extraction for a patient. Some individuals have a small jaw, making it very difficult for wisdom teeth to find a place where they can erupt without incident. In order to prevent issues from arising later in life, a dentist might recommend these types of patients to have their wisdom teeth removed at an early age. Some patients have wisdom teeth that have enough room to erupt but they are coming in at a poor angle. The wisdom teeth press forcibly against adjacent normal teeth, making them crooked over time, as well as encouraging them to press against other normal teeth, thus creating a domino effect.
Sometimes wisdom teeth are so far back in a jaw, they are unable to complete the eruption process. Instead, they become trapped along the jawline or the gum area. This is known as an impacted wisdom tooth — a condition that can be quite painful. Lastly, even some young patients have gum disease or enough cavities that a dentist feels the patient will be unable to practice good dental hygiene for any wisdom teeth that might erupt.
If a dentist decides their patient requires wisdom teeth extraction, they will refer the patient to an oral surgeon. During the initial appointment, the oral surgeon will review the patient’s overall health, as well as ask questions about tobacco use and any medications the patient is currently taking. The initial appointment is a good time for patients to ask any questions they might have, discuss which types of anesthetic would be best for them, as well as talk about the recovery process after surgery.
Before arriving for the extraction appointment, the oral surgeon’s staff will give the patient a list of do’s and don’ts so they can be properly prepared for surgery day. Patients should expect instructions about when to arrive for their appointment, when they can eat or drink prior to their appointment, along with requirements for post-surgery transportation arrangements.
After the surgery, the patient will be allowed to recover from the effects of anesthesia. Before being sent home, the patient will receive instructions on aftercare, as well as any symptoms to look for that would indicate they require additional medical care. They may also receive short-term pain medication.
Complete healing usually takes about a week, although most patients are back to their normal activities after a day or two. As long as no stitches were required and the patient is not experiencing any adverse issues, a follow-up appointment with the surgeon generally isn’t necessary.
The Wake Difference
Wake Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry is pleased to provide in-house oral surgery care through our board certified surgeon, Dr. Ken Benson. Dr. Benson’s expertise and education in oral maxillofacial surgery is an outstanding addition to our treatment menu and guarantees that your child’s oral healthcare needs will all be treated in a setting as unique as he is. For an appointment with Dr. Benson, contact us at 919-719-1780.