We know the teenage years can come with a lot of challenges for kids and parents. While we can’t help with all the potential problems that appear for young adults, we are here to help support oral health for kids, teens, and their parents—and that includes answering your questions about wisdom teeth, also known as your third molars.
Wisdom teeth typically come in between the ages of 17 and 21, but the exact age your child’s wisdom teeth—or your own—will come in may vary.
Sometimes, when wisdom teeth start coming in, they come in sideways or cause other issues that make it necessary to remove them, but each person is different. Learning more about wisdom teeth can prepare you and your child for what to expect when those third molars do start coming in.
What Triggers Wisdom Teeth to Grow?
Wisdom teeth grow through the same natural process that triggers your other second molars—your adult teeth—to grow. They emerge naturally after they’re done developing, but the growth process for wisdom teeth can vary widely from person to person.
For some people, wisdom teeth typically start growing around age 9 and take several years to develop before they erupt from the gums between the ages of 17 and 21. Interestingly, for some people, the process can start as early as age 5 or as late as age 15, leading to earlier or later wisdom teeth eruptions.
What Are the Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth?
When your wisdom teeth are growing naturally inside your jaw, you typically won’t feel anything during the early stages of growth. It’s when those teeth get big enough to poke out of your gums that they start causing noticeable issues.
Some of the symptoms of emerging wisdom teeth include:
- Irritation and swelling in your gums
- Toothaches and pain
- Pain that radiates to your jaw, eyes, or ears
- Dark red discolouration on your gums
- Small white specks on your gums
Is Growing Wisdom Teeth Painful?
Your experience with growing wisdom teeth can vary. Some people experience pain or discomfort when their wisdom teeth come in, while other people don’t experience any pain at all.
The discomfort people experience when their wisdom teeth come in can go away after their teeth have fully emerged. However, if you experience lingering pain, pressure in your jaw, or swelling in your gums, that could be a sign of an issue with your wisdom teeth.
What Does Wisdom Tooth Pain Feel Like?
In many cases, wisdom tooth pain feels like soreness or mild pain around the area of your mouth where your teeth are coming in.
When your wisdom teeth come in, they can also put pressure on nearby nerves, which can trigger discomfort or pain in other nearby areas too, such as your face, jaw, and ears.
How Do You Get Rid of Wisdom Tooth Pain?
It’s important to visit your dentist if you or your child are experiencing moderate to severe dental pain that doesn’t go away on its own.
While mild to moderate pain can often be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers or by swishing salt water in your mouth, those sensations could be a sign of an issue with your wisdom teeth.
During a dental exam, we can take a look at how your wisdom teeth are coming in and provide guidance for the next steps, including helping reduce pain and supporting your long-term oral health.
Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?
Wisdom teeth don’t always need to be removed—some people live their whole lives with their wisdom teeth.
Unfortunately, sometimes wisdom teeth can cause complications that can affect your short-term and long-term health. It’s those situations that often make wisdom teeth removal necessary.
When Should You Remove Your Wisdom Teeth?
In general, you should consider removing your wisdom teeth when they are in danger of causing harm to your health or your other teeth.
During a dental exam, we can take a look at your wisdom teeth, examine how they’re coming in, and help you make a decision about when to remove your wisdom teeth.
Some of the situations that might make removing your wisdom teeth a good idea include the following:
- Your wisdom teeth are in danger of becoming impacted
- Your wisdom teeth are damaging your jaw, gums, or other teeth
- Your wisdom teeth are coming in at an awkward angle
- Your wisdom teeth are causing an infection as they come in
Are Wisdom Teeth Harder to Remove When You’re Older?
If you wait too long to have your wisdom teeth removed, the process may be more difficult, and it may take longer to recover.
Impacted wisdom teeth can be especially problematic as you get older, and wisdom teeth may cause challenges for future orthodontic treatments. However, it’s possible to live your whole life without problems caused by your wisdom teeth, especially if you haven’t experienced any issues by the time you’re older than 30.
Your overall health and dental health are both factors we consider when making a decision about whether or not to remove your wisdom teeth.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Exist?
Many researchers and dentists believe wisdom teeth are a lingering trait from our ancestors. When our diets were hardier, we needed wisdom teeth to chew tough raw foods. As our diets changed, our jaws got smaller, making it harder for us to accommodate wisdom teeth.
When Should You Speak with a Dentist About Wisdom Teeth?
If you’re keeping up with your routine dental exams and cleanings, we can help you keep track of your wisdom teeth. We can let you know when they come in and help you decide what to do when they arrive.
If you notice any painful sensations near your teeth or other symptoms related to wisdom teeth coming in, you should visit a dentist. At Shawnessy Dental, we’re ready to help you understand your oral health and provide guidance for wisdom teeth removal. Book an appointment today to visit us!