OK, so this has been a really weird spring thanks to this dumb virus. But life will get back to normal sooner than later. After all, how many jigsaw puzzles can one family do when they’ve never before done a single one together?!
In the dental world, regular twice-yearly exams and professional cleanings with the team at Gentle Dental are normal, planned events on the schedule.
But if you have a teenager in your house, there’s another pretty common scheduled event — having his or her wisdom teeth removed. Rather than having to traipse all about northern New Jersey searching for an oral surgeon to do the job, at Gentle Dental our dentists have the necessary training and experience to provide this service for our patients in-house.
Summer is the time to have your teenager’s wisdom teeth pulled, so they can recover without having to miss a few days of school.
What are the wisdom teeth?
Why do we get wisdom teeth in the first place? The wisdom teeth are called vestigial organs, grouped with the tailbone and appendix. Vestigial organs were needed once, but now they’re a relic of our caveman past. But someone forgot to tell our wisdom teeth, and they still try and make their way down into our mouths. These are the timeframes when our molars come in: the first set erupts around age six, the second set at age 12, and the third set (the wisdom teeth) between the ages of 17 and 25.
Why do they need to be pulled?
While our tailbone and appendix aren’t needed, but also don’t do any harm (except when you fall on your tailbone ice skating!), the arrival of our wisdom teeth is usually bad news. With our modern, shorter jaw, there isn’t room for this extra set of molars. So, when they descend, they become impacted, or blocked, by the other teeth. They can come in sideways and push on the adjacent teeth. Or they can become surrounded by bone. One of the four may partially erupt, creating a pocket in the gums that is perfect for bacteria to thrive. If allowed to try and push their way in, these teeth cause havoc with your other teeth.
Pull ‘em out
Drs. Strober, Butkofski, and Messer perform extractions of the wisdom teeth. It is considered minor surgery, but don’t say that to your teenager on the third day after his or her surgery! X-rays show us when the wisdom teeth are descending. When they get to the point where they begin to erupt or start pushing on the other teeth, that’s the time to have them extracted. Usually at least two of the four wisdom teeth will be impacted and often at least one of the teeth will need to be broken to get it out and minimize the impact on the surrounding gum tissue and the jawbone. That trauma will make for a couple of sore days for your teen after the extraction.