Risk-taking is a normal part of teenage development—and often a growth opportunity for parents, too! Heads up to handling some common dental risks of adolescence so you both stay smiling. Wisdom Comes With Age The wisdom teeth, the third molars, are the last to emerge. They appear in the teen years sometimes two, sometimes three or four, or sometimes none at all. In a too-small jaw, the risk is they'll not be able to erupt, and cause pain and swelling from impaction. Or they'll push their way in anyhow, crowding and squeezing neighboring teeth out of alignment. Routine X-rays, starting at around age 12, can head off trouble by determining if there's adequate room in the mouth for any wisdom [...]
And what exactly does 'impacted' mean? Any tooth has the potential to become impacted—that is, emerges in some oddball direction that crowds other teeth. But the most famous culprits are third molars, the last-to-emerge wisdom teeth. Not many mouths can accommodate these teeth. They often wind up pressing against their neighbors, ultimately pressuring the rest of the teeth to disrupt their alignment. That's not a wise thing to let happen. Wisdom teeth get our attention when they cause pain and swelling. Routine X-rays, beginning around age 12, alert us to problem potential before wisdom teeth start getting disruptive. X-rays can let us know whether those mighty molars must go.