My Wisdom Teeth Are Coming In! What Now?

When wisdom teeth erupt, it can be painful and distracting. So before your teen heads off to college for their first (or another) year, consider scheduling a dentist appointment to have their wisdom teeth evaluated. Here are four common reasons why they may be hurting in the first place.

It’s that time of year again. August: when lines of incoming college freshmen and their parents scramble through Target, purchasing everything from microwaves to stationary on a seemingly endless list of dorm necessities.

It’s also a common time of year for wisdom teeth removal, as teens are home and able to rest while the pain and swelling from surgery subsides, without worrying about studying for a big exam.

(Note: most report having mild discomfort after surgery, lasting about three days.)

So before your child heads back to college, schedule a dentist appointment to see if his or her wisdom teeth are erupting correctly. After all, you don’t want to receive any dramatic phone calls from them about how their mouth throbbed during an important exam.

Here are four reasons why your teen may be complaining about having pain in the back of the mouth (which are also the main reasons why wisdom teeth are typically removed).

  1. They’re impacted. Because wisdom teeth reside so far back in your mouth, chances of them erupting (surfacing) normally are slim. They may be trapped in your gums or jawbone, which causes pain.
  2. Your mouth isn’t big enough. There could be no room for them to come in. And when they begin to erupt, they could move other permanent teeth, which causes pain.
  3. They’re lying horizontally. This means they’re pushing against teeth in front of them, throwing off alignment. Again, this causes pain.
  4. You have periodontitis or significant amounts of decay. Because your wisdom teeth are far back in your mouth, it’s difficult to reach them with a toothbrush or floss. This could lead to decay and disease: another cause for removal.

If your dentist feels wisdom teeth extraction is appropriate, he or she may refer you to an oral surgeon, who will take x-rays to determine the position and the anatomy of your wisdom teeth (i.e. whether it interferes with a major nerve surrounding it).

As mentioned above, post-surgery discomfort is mild, and usually lasts about three days. However, if you encounter any of the following symptoms, call your oral surgeon or dentist. You may have an infection, nerve damage or another complication that needs to be addressed.

  • It’s difficult to swallow or breathe
  • You’re bleeding excessively
  • You have a fever
  • Pain medications aren’t resolving severe pain
  • Your swelling gets worse after two or three days
  • There’s a bad taste in your mouth not resolved by a saltwater rinse
  • You have pus oozing from your socket
  • Your mouth is persistently numb
  • There’s blood or pus in your nasal discharge

Personally, I think wisdom teeth extraction is a bit overdone nowadays. So if they’ve erupted correctly, and haven’t disrupted any of the anatomical structures in your mouth, there’s really no reason to be put under anesthetics and undergo surgery.

If you have no cavities, good dental hygiene habits, no bone loss surrounding your wisdom teeth, and they function properly (allow you to bite and chew), keep them! Just make sure you floss and brush them mindfully.

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