Wisdom tooth extraction has become a rite of passage for teens and young adults. The third molars are known for causing a host of dental problems, so most people have them removed relatively early in life.
Knowing this, parents frequently ask oral surgeons about the best age for wisdom tooth extraction. Our answer? There is no hard-and-fast rule regarding the time to schedule the procedure. The decision about when to remove the third molars is made on a case-by-case basis.
General Age Recommendation for Wisdom Tooth Removal
The third molars can be removed at any time, as the window for their eruption
Is quite wide. Wisdom teeth can emerge anywhere from late adolescence up to the mid-twenties — or even later, in rare cases — so oral surgeons don’t have a specific timeline for completing the procedure.
However, as a general rule, ages 18 to 24 is considered ideal for third-molar extraction.
Why Age Is a Consideration in Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Though a patient’s unique dental anatomy and oral heath dictate the time to remove the wisdom teeth, age is still a factor.
Oral surgeons usually prefer to perform the procedure when about two-thirds of the third molar roots have developed. Most patients reach this stage by age 18, and delaying tooth extraction until then can make for an easier experience.
When the tooth roots are fully formed, third-molar removal is more difficult, and patients have a greater risk of complications. Since root development is typically complete by age 24, that’s the upper end of the ideal age range for extraction.
Advantages of Proactive Wisdom Tooth Removal
Though some lucky people never experience problems with their wisdom teeth, oral surgeons usually recommend proactive third-molar removal to reduce the risk of future dental issues.
Without proactive extraction, the following problems often occur:
The teeth only partially erupt, creating a flap of gum tissue that traps infection-causing bacteria.
The teeth grow in crooked, damaging the adjacent teeth and giving rise to alignment issues.
The teeth are positioned in a way that makes cleaning difficult, increasing the chance of tooth decay and gum disease.
An oral cyst develops within the jawbone, leading to a tooth abscess or damage to the nearby teeth, nerves and bone tissues.
Proactive wisdom tooth removal allows patients to avoid these dental issues. However, because every teen and young adult has unique medical and oral health concerns, oral surgeons only recommend proactive extraction after completing a thorough examination and diagnostic evaluation.
Is now the right time for your teen to think about wisdom tooth extraction? If you live in the greater Salt Lake City area, the professionals at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah can give you an answer.
Our board-certified oral surgeons, Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield, are specialists in the management of wisdom teeth and can offer expert advice on the best course of action for your teen. To schedule a professional wisdom tooth extraction consultation, contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office today.