So, your teen needs his wisdom tooth removed. Chances are (and we certainly hope this is the case), this is the most serious procedure your child has ever faced. Maybe you had a wisdom tooth or two removed when you were his age and can relay your experience in an attempt to calm his nerves. But with teens being teens, there’s probably nothing you can say that he’ll take seriously.
Instead, just have your teen read the what, why, when, who, and where of wisdom tooth extraction:
What? Wisdom tooth extraction is when a dentist or oral surgeon removes one or more of your wisdom teeth to alleviate or prevent problems caused by the tooth’s improper positioning or incomplete eruption (breaking through the gum). The tooth and surrounding area will be numbed with a local sedative. Additionally, you and your doctor will discuss whether a sedative should also be administered to decrease anxiety. General anesthesia may be used if several wisdom teeth are to be removed at once to prevent the patient from feeling any pain throughout the procedure. Recovery time and what to expect post-surgery will depend on how difficult the tooth was to extract. For example, a fully erupted tooth is easier to remove than a tooth that is impacted into the jawbone.
Why? Wisdom teeth often come in misaligned – either horizontal or angled in the wrong direction. This can cause overcrowding and damage to adjacent teeth, the jawbone, or nerves. Another reason for extraction is when a wisdom tooth is only partially erupted, meaning it hasn’t fully emerged from the gum yet. The opening in the gum makes it difficult to brush the tooth properly, increasing the chance of developing tooth decay and gum disease. It also allows bacteria to get in, potentially causing infection with pain, swelling, and illness.
When? If one of the problems described above exists, your dentist may recommend removing your wisdom tooth/teeth, particularly if he/she expects the problem to worsen.
Who? It’s best to have the procedure done earlier (teens to early 20s) before the roots are fully developed and the bone becomes denser. This will minimize recovery time.
Where? Wisdom tooth extraction can be done either in your dentist’s office or in an oral and maxillofacial surgeon’s office. If you’re a very high-risk patient and/or you’re having all of your wisdom teeth pulled at once, your surgery may take place in a hospital.
How did your teen cope with a wisdom tooth extraction? Tell us below.