During wisdom teeth removal consultations, parents of teenagers often ask “Does my child really need their wisdom teeth removed?” My answer is an empathic “Yes”. There are several reasons that I recommend wisdom teeth removal during teenage years.
Preserve any investment in orthodontic treatment
The first thing I consider is that there are a lot of teenagers out there getting orthodontic treatment. As a parent who has invested thousands of dollars and numerous trips to all the orthodontic appointments, I definitely recommend that parents protect that investment and prevent any future crowding that may develop during the late teenage years to 20s. At our practice, we see a lot of patients scheduling their wisdom teeth removal in their early to mid-20s, after having had orthodontic treatment in their childhood, who now want to get Invisalign to straighten their teeth again. In many cases, their orthodontist has referred them to our practice to get their wisdom teeth extracted before undergoing Invisalign. The number one thing I recommend is to protect the investment that you laid out for your teenager.
Procedure and healing are easier for youth
Another common reason to have wisdom teeth removed as a teenager is that the bone is softer. This makes for a less invasive procedure because there is not as much bone removal required. In addition, the teeth are usually not as highly impacted and there’s less root formation. Root formation is very important because whenever wisdom teeth are extracted there is potentially nerve involvement and potential complications from that. However, with teenagers, there is typically far less root development which leads to a better prognosis with less chance of complications related to nerve damage.
Recently, I had a consultation for wisdom teeth extractions with a 21 year old female who had no history of issues with her wisdom teeth in the past. Now, she is experiencing pressure and pain with her wisdom teeth. After reviewing the cone beam CT scan (CBCT), I could see based on the angulation of impaction and the root development that the roots were overlying the nerves. This is where it is really important for you, the parents, to choose a surgical specialist who has a lot of experience with wisdom teeth extractions and also has the technology to take 3D scans such as the CBCT. The 3D scans are critically important because they allow the surgeon to see the relationship of the wisdom teeth in proximity to the nerves. In this particular case, being able to see the amount of root development and the proximity to the roots allows me to educate the patient on the risks and complications associated with the procedure. More importantly, it allows me to create a surgical plan and determine which surgical techniques to use that will minimize the risks.
This patient would have had a lower risk of complications had this procedure been done three to four years ago. However, it is what it is and the patient is now experiencing pain and wants these wisdom teeth removed. Fortunately, I was able to tell the patient that with the use of the 3D scan, I could plan her surgery and tell her the prognosis, any risks of complications, and the surgical techniques, to remove her wisdom teeth as safely as possible.
With most people, Wisdom Teeth will eventually cause issues
Another common concern that parents bring up is that they did not have their wisdom teeth removed as a teenager and have not had issues so perhaps their child does not need to have their wisdom teeth removed. In my nine years of practice, I have done over 10,000 cases of wisdom teeth removal. I have seen patients from 12 years old to 85 years old needing to get their wisdom teeth removed, whether due to orthodontic treatment, pain, or pre-emptive measures. I always tell parents that at some point, wisdom teeth are going to cause problems. Not in all cases, but the majority. If you do experience issues with your wisdom teeth later in life, it may not be safe to remove all of them due to an increased risk of potential complications that we see in adults. As a general rule, I recommend that parents of teenagers schedule a consultation to see whether there is a need to have those wisdom teeth removed.
Make sure you see a qualified surgical specialist
My final message to parents is that if you have teenagers, please see a qualified surgical specialist to have their wisdom teeth extracted. I have actually seen many patients in their 20s and 30s who wished that their parents had taken them to have their wisdom teeth removed when they were teenagers. It could have been a less invasive procedure, less painful, less chance of potential complications such as nerve damage, and an easier road, overall, to recovery during teenage years versus as an adult. Those in their teenage years or even early 20s should definitely have their wisdom teeth removed. After your 20s, it is truly a case by case basis as we would look at all the risk factors involved.
Take advantage of Insurance and Financing options
If finances are a concern and you have dental insurance, take advantage of that insurance now. Our practice is in network with all major PPO dental plans with co-pays starting as low as $100 depending on your particular plan. For patients without dental insurance, this procedure can end up costing several thousands of dollars out of pocket at other surgical centers. Here at North Texas Dental Surgery we offer special pricing which is 45% off as we want to ensure that patients can afford the dental care that they need. This special price not only includes wisdom teeth removal with IV sedation, but it also includes the consultation and a complimentary 3D scan. We really encourage parents to schedule that consultation, get that 3D scan, which is critically important, and learn whether it is a good time and a good idea to have your child’s wisdom teeth removed.
In summary, some reasons to remove the wisdom teeth of teenagers:
- Preserve your investment in orthodontics & braces
- Procedures and recover is easier in teenagers
- Most of the time, wisdom teeth will eventually cause issues
- Take advantage of insurance and financing