5 Things To Know About Teens And Wisdom Teeth

5 Things To Know About Teens And Wisdom Teeth
Posted on 05/21/2019

By the time a child is 13 years old, they should have 28 of their permanent adult teeth. Some children will also get up to four more teeth called the third molars, or wisdom teeth. Most children and young adults get their wisdom teeth between the ages of 17 and 21.

With wisdom teeth, exceptions exist, however. While some may only get one or two of their wisdom teeth, others will get all four, and still others won't get any. Some people don't get their wisdom teeth until after the age of 21, and others get them much earlier than the age of 17.

No scientific reason exists for who will get their wisdom teeth and at what age they will get them. For teenagers who do have their wisdom teeth, here are five things to know.

1. Know the Symptoms of an Impacted Wisdom Tooth

Some teens will know their wisdom teeth are trying to erupt if the teen has a sudden onset of jaw pain or their gums are unusually tender. Others won't experience any symptoms at all and the only way to tell is with an x-ray during a routine dental exam.

Unfortunately, the wisdom teeth can easily impact. This means they have difficulty breaking through the gum line. An impacted wisdom tooth can be extremely painful. Some dentists recommend taking over-the-counter pain relievers or putting ice on the inside of the mouth or the outside to help reduce inflammation.

A saltwater rinse can also help to reduce the pain and prevent the impacted tooth from infection. Besides pain, other symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth include:

  • Recurring headaches
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Swollen jaw area
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Once the tooth has broken through the gum, these symptoms should subside. If the symptoms persist, however, or they become too much to bear, a teenager should see a doctor to ensure that these symptoms are not related to another health issue.

2. Know That Wisdom Teeth Can Become Infected

Because wisdom teeth are harder to clean, they can easily become infected. Partially impacted wisdom teeth or ones that erupt at an angle are also at risk for becoming infected.

Common symptoms of an infected wisdom tooth include:

  • Gums that are red, swollen, tender, or bleeding
  • Swelling or pain around the jaw
  • Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth

When the wisdom teeth don't receive a good cleaning, many types of bacteria can form in the mouth. Although this is rare, bacteria from the infected wisdom tooth can spread to other parts of the mouth and even the head. When a wisdom tooth has become infected, a dentist or doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.

3. Know If the Wisdom Tooth Requires Removal

Some instances exist for when a wisdom tooth needs removal. A dentist may recommend wisdom tooth extraction for teens who experience the following:

  • The tooth causes an extreme amount of pain.
  • The tooth has become impacted or infected.
  • The tooth crowds the other teeth.
  • The tooth makes keeping the other teeth clean hard to do.

Some dentists recommend removing wisdom teeth by the age of 20. This is because the roots and bone of the teeth are softer, making them easier to remove. Also, younger people tend to recover from surgery faster.

If the wisdom tooth has come in normally and doesn’t cause any problems, a dentist may decide to leave it alone.

4. Know What to Expect About Wisdom Tooth Extraction

When a dentist removes wisdom teeth, this is oral surgery. On average, the surgery takes about 45 minutes. The dentist will use a local or general anesthesia so that you don’t feel pain while the dentist extracts the wisdom teeth. Some people prefer to get IV sedation for the procedure.

If an oral surgeon needs to cut the gums or the bones to extract the teeth, they will use dissolvable stitches for the wound. Some people will have pain following the surgery, which usually lasts up to a few days.

While recovering from the surgery, you can use an ice pack to reduce swelling. Also, eat soft foods only and to drink plenty of fluids. As with any type of surgery, the chance of complications always exists. Some of the most common complications of wisdom tooth extraction include infection, dry socket, and heavy bleeding.

5. Know Who to Contact About Wisdom Tooth Concerns

If you are a parent of a teenager who has concerns about their wisdom teeth, contact Dentistry for Children & Adolescents. Our pediatric dentists have provided dental care for teens in Edina, Burnsville, and Minnetonka, Minnesota, since 1968. We will assess whether or not your teen has their wisdom teeth, if the teeth have impaction or infection, and whether the teeth need removal. Call today.


Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

  • Edina Office - 7373 France Ave. S., Suite 402, Edina, MN 55435 Phone: 952-831-4400
  • Burnsville Office - 14050 Nicollet Ave., Suite 100, Burnsville, MN 55337 Phone: 952-435-4102
  • Eden Prairie Office - 6385 Old Shady Oak Road, Suite 150, Eden Prairie , MN 55344 Phone: 952-932-0920

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