This week, Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell tells us what to do about wisdom teeth.
Also known as the third molars, the wisdom teeth are the final teeth to come in, and they can be problematic. A dental evaluation can determine whether the third molars are coming in right.
Parents need to be thinking about this for their children by the time they're 16 and then continue to monitor kids' wisdom teeth until they are out of their teens. By then, it's usually clear whether those teeth will be trouble later in life.
If it seems that the teeth will pose a problem, oral surgeons recommend getting them out sooner rather than later. It's easier to remove them when the bony structures are still relatively soft. The older we get, the harder the bones get, so it's uncommon for folks to have their wisdom teeth out after age 30.
Of course, the downside of removing your wisdom teeth is that the surgery may be unnecessary, especially if the teeth aren't crowding their neighbors or causing gum infections. And any surgery has risks, although it's minimal for third molar extractions.