We often see patients who ask if they should have their wisdom teeth removed. The first thing we mention is that this is a decision that you need to make while referring to the advice of your dentist. However, there are some things you can think over in preparation for having an informed discussion with your dentist about your oral health care.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

In my years as a dental receptionist, I have met my share of patients who have wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are an extra set of four molars that most people have. I remember meeting one patient who had nine extra molars, which is very rare. Most patients have four, but there are cases where there are fewer. A lot depends on your genetics, and if Mom or Dad had only two or three, the chances go up that you might have the same. Also, it is interesting to know why we have wisdom teeth in the first place!

I'm Thinking About Getting My Wisdom Teeth Extracted. Does My Age Matter?

This is a particularly good question for parents of young adults who are in the position of needing them removed. Wisdom teeth develop and can be removed when you are as young as 16 years of age. Removing them at 16 is much easier than leaving them until you are older. As you age, the roots of the wisdom teeth start to grow, and more of the root the bigger the issue. For example, my oldest daughter had her wisdom teeth removed when she was 16, and this was done under IV sedation. So she was unconcious through the whole procedure, and did not remember a thing. She had no complications, and recovered with no issues. My youngest daughter decided she would put it off as long as she could, and had them removed at 21 years of age. Perhaps because the roots had an extra 5 years to grow, her experience was a bit more eventful. Although she also had the IV sedation, her recovery time was much longer, and she experienced some slight complications.

My advice to Mom and Dad is to have your dentist check the progress of your children’s wisdom teeth at their next visit. If the teeth are causing pain, ask if it would be too early to think about removing them. Generally, the rule of thumb is "the earlier, the better".

Should I Think About This Sooner, or Later?

I see so many children who are covered under their parents' insurance, and are covered usually to the age of 21 and 25 as full time students. Keep in mind that dental insurance coverage is different for each family, and the age limit for your children could vary.  Your dental receptionist should be able to check that information for you and advise you of the findings. For those kids who are insured by Mom or Dad’s insurance and have wisdom teeth, you are in for a big surprise if you don’t take advantage of that while you are covered! In cases where wisdom teeth become infected, they often will not subside until you have them removed. During my years of experience, I have seen a lot of patients that wish they would've had them removed while Mom or Dad's insurance could cover the bill.

My words of advice are, “have those dreaded wisdom teeth removed while you are covered.” If you put it off, paying out of your pocket could cost $2500 or more. No one wants to pay out of their pocket, especially for something that they could have avoided while their are under their parents' insurance.

So now the bottom line: if you are experiencing pain, don’t put off the removal of those wisdom teeth. Be sure to check with your dentist at your next visit if it is time for them to be removed, and take it from me, you will not have any regrets. If I can be of any help with regards to your wisdom teeth or just dentistry in general, please don’t hesitate to stop in and see me at Longworth Dental.