Summertime is a great opportunity to address one-off procedures that might otherwise interfere with busy school schedules or when students are about to head off to college. Although wisdom teeth removal isn’t necessarily a “rite of passage” into adulthood, they are fairly common in high school and college-age individuals. Because wisdom tooth pain can worsen over time or even impact the healthy teeth alongside of them, it’s best to work with an experienced dentist in Raleigh who can offer guidance on whether a wisdom tooth extraction is necessary.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed?
Wisdom teeth (third molars) are the last set of permanent adult teeth to develop. But with great access to preventative dentistry, most people can retain all of their healthy teeth for a lifetime. Since that’s the case, there typically aren’t any missing or decaying teeth that have been lost or extracted before the wisdom teeth start to erupt.
As wisdom teeth begin to erupt into the mouth, they often become impacted due to a lack of space. There simply is not extra room in the jaws or next to other teeth for them to erupt properly into the mouth. In turn, they often wedge themselves into a neighboring tooth or even develop cysts around them.
Since impacted wisdom teeth can cause damage to the bone and neighboring teeth, they’re typically removed on a proactive basis to avoid further complications and pain.
Erupted or partially erupted wisdom teeth are extracted for other reasons: recurring infections. Their location or partial exposure puts them at an extremely elevated risk for decay, gum disease, abscesses, and infections in general. In turn, the adjacent healthy teeth are also compromised. Rather than fill the cavity or treat the gum infection around wisdom teeth, they’re typically removed because the chances of recurring issues are extremely high.
Does My Teen Need Their Wisdom Teeth Taken Out?
The best way to find out if your teen needs wisdom tooth removal this summer is to request an exam and X-ray. Once we have an image of their jaws, we’ll be able to determine how the wisdom teeth are positioned and their stage of development. Depending on how the teeth are located and if they’re impacted against other teeth, our Raleigh dentist can make a recommendation about whether removal is in the foreseeable future.
If your teen is experiencing wisdom tooth pain already, or you’re starting to see their teeth become crowded due to the pressure in their jaws (a big problem if your teen has already completed orthodontic treatment!) then wisdom tooth removal is likely. The pressure of erupting wisdom teeth typically comes and goes consistently, sometimes becoming chronic until the teeth are finally removed. It’s unlikely to improve or go away, especially considering how wisdom teeth continue to grow well into a person’s mid to late 20s.
One of the best times to complete a wisdom tooth evaluation is during the summer. That way your teen has plenty of time during their school break should removal be necessary. Scheduling an evaluation early on during the summer still leaves plenty of time to reserve an extraction appointment — with ample time for recovery — before your teen heads back to school or goes off to college in the fall.
Wisdom Tooth Consultations: What to Expect
Now that you’ve booked your teen’s wisdom tooth exam in Raleigh, here’s what you can expect during the appointment:
First, we’ll take a full-mouth X-ray or scan of their mouth. This digital image allows us to look inside of the jaws to assess all of their oral anatomy — both wisdom teeth and immediately around them — to see how the third molars are affecting their mouth as a whole. From there, our Raleigh dentists will also discuss any symptoms such as pain, swelling, or pressure and how frequently they “flare up.” We will also examine your teen’s mouth to assess the gums and health of adjacent teeth as they relate to wisdom tooth development. Even the bite and alignment of other teeth will be evaluated, as teeth are known to shift from wisdom tooth pressure.
Depending on the position and developmental stage of your teen’s wisdom teeth, our Raleigh dentist will then make a recommendation as to whether those molars need to be removed. In some cases, an extraction isn’t necessary, or we feel that it’s best to wait and watch them for another year before re-evaluating them.
However, if a wisdom tooth extraction is recommended, we will begin the care planning process. Your treatment plan will outline the procedures and steps involved, as well as applicable estimated insurance coverage. You’ll be able to see a breakdown of pricing and expected fees so that you know exactly what to expect before scheduling your teen’s wisdom tooth surgery. If you like, you can also finance the procedure at low or zero interest to make affordable monthly payments without having to delay care. All this information will be reviewed during your care planning consultation.
How Old do You Need to be to Get Your Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
Wisdom teeth typically begin developing very early on during childhood. However, they usually don’t start to erupt through the gums until the mid-teen years (on average.) But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are fully developed! Wisdom teeth usually continue to grow and form until the late 20s, once the roots are fully developed. It is not uncommon for someone close to 30 years of age to finally need their wisdom teeth extracted because of the pressure and pain involved.
Since early dental screenings and X-rays allow us to assess wisdom tooth development at a young age, it’s easier to identify potential issues before they start. For example, we might see that your high schooler has well-developed wisdom teeth that are erupting at an angle or impacted against their neighboring teeth. At this point, we will already know that those molars cannot erupt properly and are putting the adjacent teeth at risk. If left alone, those wisdom teeth might cause recurring on-and-off pain over the next several years. The best thing to do would probably be to have the wisdom teeth removed before chronic discomfort becomes a problem.
Dental Sedation During Wisdom Tooth Removal
It’s no surprise that most parents and teens prefer to have wisdom tooth removal completed under dental sedation. Depending on the type of sedation dentistry selected (there are varying levels) most patients will feel as if they’re snoozing through the procedure, with an amnesic effect that causes them to forget almost everything about the appointment.
At Raleigh Dental Arts, we have both licensed sedation dentistry providers as well as a visiting anesthesiologist who comes into our facility to provide services like IV sedation. This amenity allows us to provide services such as oral surgery, dental implant placement, full mouth reconstruction, and wisdom tooth removal without necessarily having to visit a surgical center or specialist.
Dental sedation is extremely safe and effective. It allows us to offer an efficient and comfortable experience to our patients, whether it’s for a dental extraction or something else. Particularly if there’s a bit of anxiety or apprehension about visiting the dentist! Teens are not immune to dental anxiety, so dental sedation ensures they can complete their wisdom tooth treatment in a way that’s as gentle and safe as possible.
Why Summer is a Great Time for Wisdom Tooth Appointments
The summer months are a great opportunity for teens and early 20-somethings to have their wisdom teeth removed. That way any downtime associated with the procedure, or their recovery won’t interfere with traditional school schedules.
Most teens only need a few days to a week to fully “recover” from having their wisdom teeth taken out. If you’re able to get them seen by a Raleigh dentist once school lets out, you’ll have time to evaluate their wisdom teeth, plan the oral surgery (if necessary, of course) and have plenty of days left over for their recovery before school starts back.
Planning wisdom tooth removal during summer vacation and between camps or trips out of town makes it more convenient for your family as a whole. Plus, there’s no rush for your teen to have to force their way back to school sooner than they feel comfortable. There’s plenty of time for resting, watching TV, and giving their body the time they need to recovery comfortably.
Keep in mind that the summer months are also the most popular and highly-request times for wisdom tooth extractions in Raleigh. So, if you’re hoping to reserve an appointment for your teeth or college student, it’s best to do so right away.
Request an Appointment
If you suspect that you or your teen’s wisdom teeth are causing problems, it’s time to speak to our Raleigh dentist. Early intervention can help your family avoid unwanted discomfort, emergencies, or even having a student away at college struggling with toothaches. Contact Raleigh Dental Arts today to request a wisdom tooth exam and X-ray. New patients are always welcome!