Wisdom teeth (or third molars), are the last teeth to erupt in your child’s mouth. This generally occurs in the late teens to early twenties (between the ages of 17 and 25). Some people never develop wisdom teeth. Your dentist will periodically take x-rays to determine the presence and positioning of these teeth. Wisdom teeth can be a valuable addition to the dentition when healthy and properly aligned, however, more often they are misaligned and removal by an oral surgeon is recommended. Wisdom teeth can lead to the following potential complications when misaligned or impacted underneath soft tissue or bone: crowding or damage to adjacent teeth or roots, higher potential for cavities to develop, and the possible formation of infection or cysts.
Your dentist may decide to send you to an oral surgeon for further evaluation when your child reaches the appropriate age. The oral surgeon may recommend that wisdom teeth be removed even if they have not caused any problems yet. This is done to avoid a more difficult removal and potential future complications (as the wisdom teeth are more likely to cause problems as patients age). Removal is easier in young people as the teeth roots are not yet completely formed, the bone is less dense, and there is less chance of damaging nearby nerves or other structures. In addition, healing and recovery time is shorter for young adults. The ease at which the oral surgeon can extract wisdom teeth depends on their position and root development. Impacted wisdom teeth may require a more involved surgical procedure. The oral surgeon will discuss anesthetic options with you.