Wisdom teeth really have nothing to do with “wisdom.” They are called that primarily because they emerge when a child is older and hopefully wiser than he or she was when the other teeth came in. You should, however, educate yourself with these 5 facts about wisdom teeth. Share this information with your kids, too, so they will know what to expect.
1. What is a Wisdom Tooth?
A wisdom tooth is actually a molar, just like the other adult molars that will emerge in your child’s mouth. Molars are the flat-topped teeth that you use most often for chewing food.
2. Where Are Wisdom Teeth Located?
Wisdom teeth are located at the four corners in the back of your child’s mouth. Also called third molars, they are the last molars that emerge at the back or end of each row of molars.
3. When do Wisdom Teeth Emerge?
Wisdom teeth will emerge in your child’s mouth typically between the ages of 17 and 21. As with everything related to child development, though, they may show up a bit sooner or a bit later.
Your child’s wisdom teeth may not ever emerge. Not all children develop the third molar. They may get all four, or they may only get one, two or three of them.
4. Do Wisdom Teeth Always Need to be Removed?
No, third molars do not always have to be removed. If they develop and emerge properly, they are actually very beneficial to have. They give your child additional teeth to chew his or her food with.
5. When Should Wisdom Teeth be Removed?
You and your child should discuss this with your dentist if the third molars don’t emerge properly. Sometimes they will come up crooked in the mouth or not emerge all the way. A part of the tooth could remain beneath the gum line, making it difficult or impossible to keep clean and creating a place for food and bacteria to get stuck. Occasionally, there just isn’t enough room for the third molar. It could cause crowding as it tries to push through the gum, making your child’s other teeth crooked and difficult to keep clean.
The Canadian Dental Association points out that, “… there is insufficient evidence to support or refute the common practice of removing trouble-free impacted wisdom teeth.”
Your child’s dentist will monitor the development of his or her wisdom teeth. They can be seen on x-rays long before they begin to emerge. The dentist will be able to tell if the third molars develop and whether or not they are likely to emerge properly.