As a parent, you’re probably wondering at what age your child or children will start to get their wisdom teeth or third molars. Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to emerge from the gums after your child has gotten all his or her other adult teeth. This usually occurs between the ages of 17 and 25, but they can start to emerge from the gums sooner.
Do We Need Wisdom Teeth?
From a functional perspective, we no longer need wisdom teeth. Scientists believe that humans developed the molars in the past to chew exceptionally tough foods like nuts, roots, and uncooked fruits, vegetables, and meats. Since we no longer eat these extremely tough and hard to chew foods, we no longer need the added chewing power provided by the back molars.
Why Do They Often Emerge from the Gums Incorrectly?
Wisdom teeth are notorious for emerging from the gums incorrectly. They often become impacted (stuck below the gum line) and emerge crooked and twisted. This is because our jaws are much smaller than our ancestors’ jaws. Some can’t accommodate to the additional four teeth.
Signs Your Child Is getting His or Her Wisdom Teeth
The first sign of wisdom tooth emergence is the swelling of the gums in the back of the mouth. As the third molars start to emerge, they aggravate the gum tissue. This can cause pain and discomfort. However, if they emerge correctly, pain typically decreases.
During the period of time the molars are emerging, your child may experience an increase in headaches and toothaches. This should also dissipate if the wisdom teeth grow in fully with no complications. However, if the teeth become impacted, the headaches may continue and even increase in severity. Additionally, your child may have trouble chewing his or her food, and they may even experience jaw pain and swelling along the side of the mouth where the tooth is emerging.
Signs Your Child May Have Impacted Wisdom Teeth
- The wisdom teeth are growing at an angle toward the other molars
- The mouth is not large enough to accommodate the wisdom teeth
- Your child is experiencing extreme pain as the wisdom teeth cut through the gums
- Your child is experiencing swelling or has other signs of an infection
- You notice your child’s jawline looking different in shape
- Your child may complain about their bite being off
Understanding if Wisdom Teeth Can Be Left in Place
There is a school of thought that says some individuals may be able to keep their wisdom teeth. However, this is somewhat rare. In order for the wisdom teeth to remain in place, they must grow in straight and there must be enough room at the back of the mouth to accommodate the third molars.
Your child must also be able to brush and floss his or her molars in order to prevent dental decay and cavities. Since wisdom teeth tend to develop large cavities and may contribute to gum disease and infections in the back of the mouth, many dentists recommend having them removed sooner than later.
Getting Your Child’s Mouth Examined with our Pediatric Dentist in Ponte Vedra
The first step in ensuring your child doesn’t suffer from any wisdom tooth pain is to get them in bi-yearly for regular dental examinations. Dr. Lindsay or Dr. Thomas can determine if your child has wisdom teeth and if they will emerge correctly.
Our dental x-rays can see teeth below the gum line, and when you schedule regular dental checkups with our pediatric dentist, your child’s wisdom teeth development can be monitored. Our dentists can tell if your child’s third molars are developing too close to the other molars, are crooked, twisted, or laying horizontally.