When Is the Best Time to Have a Teen’s Wisdom Teeth Removed?

By In Ask The Expert September 14, 2018

The third molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth, begin to develop around age 10. They make their first appearance between the age of 16 and 25. That’s also the time when most people have their wisdom teeth removed.

In most cases, dentists recommend getting your wisdom teeth out before the roots and bone fully form. However, patients at our dental clinic in Waterloo often ask why.

Is wisdom tooth extraction required if the teeth aren’t causing problems? When is the best time to have a teen’s wisdom teeth removed?

When Is Wisdom Tooth Extraction Necessary?

The reason most people undergo oral surgery to remove wisdom teeth at a young age is to prevent oral health problems.

Wisdom teeth emerge in the back of the mouth behind the molars. However, many people do not have enough space left in their mouth for the new teeth to grow in properly. As a result, wisdom teeth commonly erupt at odd angles, erupt only partially, or crowd the other molars.

For some, the emergence of wisdom teeth causes no more than a slight discomfort. However, most people experience oral health problems when their wisdom teeth are left in place.

Common wisdom teeth problems include:

  • Wisdom Tooth Decay
    Without room to grow properly, wisdom teeth cannot erupt in the proper position. Crooked wisdom teeth are prone to trap food particles, allowing cavity-causing bacteria to flourish.
  • Molar Cavities
    Wisdom teeth that have not come in properly can make it difficult or impossible to floss between the wisdom tooth and the neighboring molar. Both teeth are at risk of developing cavities.
  • Gum Disease (Periodontitis)
    When wisdom teeth don’t have space to fully erupt, they can create a space for bacteria to enter the gums and cause an infection. These infections can lead to swelling, stiffness, and serious pain in the jaw.
  • Oral Cysts
    Cysts can form on or near an impacted wisdom tooth, which have the potential to damage the roots or nearby teeth. At worse, oral cysts caused by wisdom teeth can even damage the bone that supports teeth.
  • Molar Damage
    The pressure from wisdom teeth pushing against neighbouring molars can cause permanent damage.

Oral surgery for wisdom tooth extraction is the most important step in preventing and treating these problems.

What Happens If Teens Don’t Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?

The decision to have wisdom teeth removed is up to the patient. Wisdom tooth extraction is a more invasive procedure than an ordinary tooth pulling, and some people feel it's unnecessary if the teeth are not causing problems.

Left in place, wisdom teeth should be closely observed for potential issues. Wisdom teeth problems can develop later.

Best Time to Have a Teen’s Wisdom Teeth Removed

Timing is important. Although most teens recover quickly from the procedure (typically after 2-5 days), the best time to have a teen’s wisdom teeth removed is during a school holiday, like the winter or summer break:

  • Wisdom tooth extraction can cause bruising and swelling, so most teens would prefer some privacy during the recovery period.
  • Depending on the extent of their discomfort, the patient may have to apply ice packs or moist compresses to their face for up to two days. This care is easier to do at home.
  • Teens should get plenty of rest during the recovery period.
  • Sports and other strenuous physical activity should be avoided for several days after the procedure.
  • During the holidays, teens will have plenty of time to recover without worrying about the pressure of missed classes, homework, and studying.