Dealing with Wisdom Tooth Removal in Your Teens

December 12, 2018, Langley Dental Practice

It's a right of passage for most teens. They've been going to the dentist regularly for years. They've perhaps had braces to give them that beautiful smile you love. Then towards the end of high school or the beginning of college, they either start experiencing pain in their mouth, or their dentist recommends wisdom teeth removal.

Having wisdom teeth removed isn't usually something teens are excited about, but with some preparation and care, having your teen's wisdom teeth removed can be a relatively smooth process. Read this article provided by Melbourne Dental to learn more

Why Get Wisdom Teeth Removed?

The average age for the removal of wisdom teeth is 18 to 24 years old but depending on individual development can occur earlier or later. The reason for this window of time is that your oral surgeon wants the roots of the teeth to be close to fully formed to allow for easier manipulation during extraction while your child is also still young enough to avoid many of the dental complications that can result from leaving the teeth in too long. Waiting too long to remove wisdom teeth can cause pain, gum irritation, crowding, and the pressure may adversely affect the health of adjacent teeth.

When it is time for your teen to have their wisdom teeth removed, their regular dentist is usually the first person to bring up the need for the procedure. If your teen complains of pain in their gums or teeth in the very back of their mouth, this could indicate that their wisdom teeth are beginning to erupt and necessitates a trip to the dentist for a consultation. Typically, your dentist will order x-rays and if they determine that the time is right for wisdom teeth removal, will refer your teen to an oral surgeon.

Proper Preparation

Before your consultation, it helps to have a list of questions prepared to ask the surgeon to make sure you and your teen fully understand the procedure and what to expect. Ask your teen what their concerns are before meeting with the surgeon. Often teens can be apprehensive about the surgery but don't mention it to the surgeon during the consultation. Understanding their concerns before the appointment will allow you to to make sure your teen has all their questions answered during the meeting without putting them on the spot. Having a notebook and pen on hand can be useful to jot down any instructions.

It is also helpful to have a few dates in mind as options for scheduling the procedure. Every person has a different post-op experience with wisdom teeth removal. Your teen might breeze through the process with little discomfort or swelling. However, it's likely that your teen may need a few days of downtime afterward. Scheduling the procedure at a time when you have few obligations or must-attend events is ideal. Many parents and teens opt to slate the surgery during a break from school to allow for adequate recovery time. Your teen may have limitations on physical activity afterward so be sure to discuss with the doctor any sports or activities your child participates in and when they can anticipate being able to resume these activities.

Your surgeon will discuss options for sedation and any additional instructions such as using an antiseptic mouthwash before the surgery and recommendations for eating and drinking beforehand. A day or two before the procedure, you'll want to make a trip to the store to stock up on soft, easy-to-eat foods that your teen enjoys. The doctor will likely recommend soft, not liquid, meals for up to a week after the surgery. Being prepared before the surgery will prevent the need for last minute trips to the store when you want to stay with your teen. Some ideas for soft foods include ice cream, applesauce, gelatin, pudding, soups, smoothies, soft scrambled eggs, and well-cooked macaroni and cheese. The dentist will advise your teen against using a straw, to avoid dry sockets, so be sure to have them eat their smoothies, shakes, and ice cream with a spoon instead. Adequate nutrition and hydration are essential for healing.

Surgery Day

The day of the surgery, be sure that your teen has followed instructions for refraining from food and drink if that is what the surgeon recommends. You'll want to have them wear comfortable clothes. If they are getting IV sedation, a short-sleeved shirt allows for more comfortable placement. Typically the surgeon will allow you to remain with your child until they are ready to begin. Barring any extenuating circumstances, wisdom tooth removal will likely take approximately 45 to 60 minutes. Your child's procedure may take less time while more complicated extractions may take somewhat longer. Your surgeon will tell you what to expect and when the staff will call you back to the recovery room. Your child will remain in recovery until the surgeon is satisfied that they are sufficiently awake and aware after the anesthesia wears off.

While your teen is in recovery, the staff at the office will give you instructions on how to care for your teen in the next hours and days. Their advice will depend on if your teen has sutures at the surgical site or not and other individual factors that are specific to each person and procedure.

Aftercare

The surgeon will likely prescribe pain medication to take after surgery. Your teen will still be numb for several hours after their appointment, but you will want to give them their pain medication before the numbness wears off to keep ahead of the pain. Your teen will have gauze in place after their surgery. Follow the doctor's instructions on when to change the dressing and how long to leave it in. For most uncomplicated extractions, the gauze can be discarded shortly after returning home as long as the bright-red bleeding has stopped.

As with most pain medication, your teen will probably have to take their meds with food, so it is essential to have soft, palatable options on hand. Your teen will likely be tired and wanting to rest; plan for some quiet downtime for the remainder of the day for recovery. As you are well aware, teens have a lot of energy and can balk at any limitations. Your teen may insist they feel well enough to resume their regular activities, but it is a good idea to encourage them to take it easy for a few days. Depending on your teen's interests, you may want to stock up on movies or books or load up the Netflix queue.

Your surgeon may have given you a prescription for an antiseptic mouthwash. Follow their instructions carefully to help prevent infection. You will also likely be advised to use a diluted warm salt water rinse beginning the day after surgery. Cold packs are helpful to reduce swelling the day of the operation. Switch to warm, moist compresses the next day to help with any discomfort. Anytime you have questions or concerns about your teen's recovery, don't hesitate to contact your surgeon.

Most teens do not look forward to having their wisdom teeth out. However, with proper preparation and aftercare, wisdom teeth removal doesn't have to be something to fear. Wisdom teeth removal is merely another beneficial procedure that can ensure a lifetime of good dental health for your teen. And that is something to smile about!

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