Well, you’ve made it this far. Your son has lost his baby teeth, gotten through braces, and has worn a mouthguard to protect his smile throughout his high school sports career.
The next issue is one almost all people have to deal with at one time or another — wisdom teeth. These are your son’s third molars. They are supposed to erupt in the back of the mouth. Maybe your son will be one of the lucky ones whose wisdom teeth come in without causing problems.
It’s more likely that he will be among the 70 to 80 percent of people who will need to have his wisdom teeth removed.
Either way, you should make regular visits to Galleria of Smiles part of his (and the rest of your family’s) dental care. Call (918) 496-8010 or contact us online if you live in or near Tulsa, OK.
We will monitor the development of your son’s wisdom teeth. We also will let you know if they will need to be removed, and we can perform the procedure at our office in many cases.
The Troubles With Wisdom Teeth
Earlier we pointed out that wisdom teeth are your third molars.
Molars are the larger teeth in the back of your mouth. Their primary purpose is to chew and grind your food into smaller, more easily digestible pieces.
Most people will have their permanent teeth, including two sets of molars by their early teens. Wisdom teeth typically start to erupt when people are in their late teens or early 20s. (A time when they are “wiser,” thus the nickname.)
Unfortunately, modern humans have smaller jaws than our ancestors. As a result, many of us simply do not have space for our wisdom teeth to erupt. Because of this, wisdom teeth can become impacted. Teeth are impacted when they cannot erupt correctly.
A partially impacted tooth may break the surface of your gums, where a fully impacted tooth may remain completely below the gumline. In either situation, your wisdom teeth have the potential to create problems, such as the following:
▷ Wisdom teeth can change the alignment of your other teeth.
Wisdom teeth will push on nearby teeth when they don’t emerge correctly. That can push those teeth into other teeth creating a slow-moving domino effect.
The end result can be a smile that looks out of whack. This also can affect your bite, which may make it more difficult to eat and to keep your teeth clean. If you have completed orthodontic care, you will understand why this is a problem you want to avoid.
▷ Wisdom teeth can hurt your oral health.
Impacted teeth can create pockets where bacteria can hide from your toothbrush and dental floss. When bacteria are removed, they multiply, and the more bacteria you have, the more likely you are to develop cavities and gum disease.
Even if your wisdom teeth have room to come in, they can be more difficult to clean by virtue of how far back they are in your mouth. This too can increase the risk of cavities periodontal problems for some people.
▷ Wisdom teeth can harm your jaw.
This will depend on how your wisdom teeth grow, but this is a real risk for many patients. When wisdom teeth are not able to grow like they should, then cysts can form around those teeth. Those cysts could damage nerves and your jawbone.
How We Can Help
One of the most important things to do is to monitor changes to your child’s jaw during the time when his wisdom teeth are developing. Regular check-ups with X-rays can help us watch for changes, which can help identify problems before they become painful or lead to an increased risk of infection or alignment problems.
If removing your child’s wisdom teeth can help him or her avoid long-term oral health problems, then that is what we will recommend.
To schedule an examination for someone your love, call Galleria of Smiles in Tulsa at (918) 496-8010 or fill out our online form.