Many teens leave the responsibility of their oral health to their parents—the parent must make dentist or orthodontist appointments, because if it was up to the teenager, they wouldn’t go. One dental health issue that parents of teens need to be on the lookout for is wisdom teeth. While most teens won’t be ecstatic about the prospect of having their wisdom teeth taken out, the alternative is even more painful. If you are a parent who has to point your teen in the right direction when it comes to their oral health, there are a few things you’ll want to know about the wisdom tooth removal process. Here is a quick glimpse at this process from early signs of pain all the way to the final stages of healing.
Regular Check Ups
Although routine dental check-ups are essential from the time your child gets their first tooth, this is especially important during the later teen years. A dentist can take x-rays to determine whether your teen’s wisdom teeth are coming in any time soon, or if removal won’t be necessary for a few years. Many younger teens will find themselves with a smile that is becoming overcrowded due to their wisdom teeth or even experiencing pain throughout their mouth, each of which indicates tooth removal may be needed. Checking in with the dentist regularly will ensure that the teen isn’t in pain any longer than necessary and that removal is done at the proper time.
Prepping for the Surgery
Most dentists will suggest avoiding any over-the-counter blood thinners or painkillers leading up to the procedure, staying well-hydrated, and only eating a light meal a few hours beforehand. If your teen is nervous about the procedure, have the dentist fully explain the process so that they know exactly what to expect. Let them ask questions, and have the dentist explain how long the procedure will take, or what they can expect in terms of discomfort afterwards. If the teen has never been under anesthesia before, it is best to explain this process as well as any side effects since they won’t know what to expect from this either.
A Look at Wisdom Teeth Removal
When it comes to the actual removal, the process varies between every single patient depending on their teeth and any additional issues within the mouth. If the teen has impacted wisdom teeth, the process could be a little more difficult in order to avoid causing further pain. The dentist will generally remove either 2 or 4 teeth to keep one’s smile as straight as possible. Parents can discuss their options for painkillers and anesthesia as some may want their teen completely under while others will prefer semi-conscious sedation or topical anesthetics, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Immediately Following the Extraction
The amount of teeth that are removed as well as the type of anesthesia chosen will affect the recovery time. Parents can expect a minimum of a few hours of full-time care for the child as they will be groggy and uncomfortable. Dentists will often suggest taking painkillers almost immediately after before the pain kicks and prepping a comfortable chair or bed in the home for them to relax. Obviously, you’ll need to drive the teen home from the procedure, but it is best to keep a close eye on them after the wisdom teeth removal—especially if he or she has never taken pain killers before.
The patient should rest for a minimum of 12 hours and often up to 24 hours after the procedure. Changing the dressing, which will be explained by the dentist, needs to happen every half hour or when saturated all the way through. A salt rinse should be done as often as possible and the teen will need to refrain from sports, bending over, or lifting heavy objects for a minimum of 3 days, but often up to a week or longer. Some patients take longer to heal, but once again, this depends on how many teeth were removed, and how complicated the surgery was. Provide them with soft foods that don’t require chewing, and make sure they aren’t using a straw when drinking since this can cause stitches to come out before they are ready.
When carried out by an experienced dentist, this oral procedure will have no lingering effects and can be carried out in just a few short trips to the dental office. It will also help many teens avoid long-term issues ranging from impacted teeth and infections to a crowded smile and malocclusion.As a parent, be sure that your teen understands the need for this procedure, as well as what will follow. Although this is a painful process, it is necessary, and has a relatively short recovery time. The information for this article was provided by dental professionals who conduct wisdom teeth clinical trials in Salt Lake City.