How to Help Your Child Prepare for Wisdom Tooth Removal

Wisdom Tooth Removal Eagle River Dental

Every year, teens and preteens from across the country visit their dentists to have their wisdom teeth removed. And not surprisingly, those extractions can cause a fair amount of nervousness, even among young people who normally don’t mind visiting their dentist. Wisdom tooth extractions might sound scary, but the fact is, thanks to advances in techniques and technology, the procedure and the recovery process are a lot more straightforward than you — and your child — might think. If your child is nervous about their upcoming extractions, here’s how you can help ease their fears.

Before their appointment

Discussing the extractions with your child ahead of time is the first step in helping them become at least a bit more comfortable with the procedure. After all, a lot of anxiety comes from the “unknown,” so helping them know what to expect is key in relieving some degree of nervousness and worry. The first step: Explain why the extractions are important, both now and for their future oral health.

Wisdom tooth extraction makes a lot of sense for two primary reasons. First of all, by the time wisdom teeth come in, there’s often not much room left to accommodate them. As a result, they tend to come in at an awkward angle or even sideways, pressing against other teeth. Sometimes, they emerge from the side of the gum, and other times, they become impacted — essentially stuck under the neighboring molar, causing lots of pain and potentially damaging that molar.

The second reason for extraction has to do with prevention. Even if wisdom teeth come in without causing problems at the time they erupt, their location way back in your jaw makes them extremely difficult to keep clean. As a result, they can become harbors for food particles, plaque, and harmful bacteria, significantly increasing your risks for tooth decay, gum disease, and infection.

During their appointment

Because wisdom teeth have very long roots (and partly because of their location), they can't simply be "lifted" from their sockets like many other teeth. Instead, they require surgical removal to ensure the entire tooth structure is removed. During the procedure, the dentist will make an incision in the gum, sometimes removing a very small amount of bone in order to make the tooth easier to access. Then the tooth will be removed and the incision will be closed using a few sutures. It sounds like a complex process, but remember: Our dentists have done many of these procedures, so what may seem like a complicated procedure to you and your child is something with which our dentists are very familiar. They understand the oral anatomy, they have extensive experience in wisdom tooth extractions, and they've been trained in the most advanced extraction techniques, so your child can feel confident they'll receive top-quality care.

Since a wisdom tooth extraction is a bit more involved than other types of extractions, your child will need to be sedated. That’s actually good news, since it means they’ll be much more relaxed during their treatment — they might even nap. Once the procedure is over, it’s likely they’ll remember nothing about the extraction at all. And of course, the extraction site will also be completely numbed so they won’t have any discomfort either.

After their appointment

Once the extraction is complete, your child will spend a short period of time in a recovery area before going home. Before they leave the office, we’ll give you a complete set of instructions to help them through their recovery. Your child should be prepared to be drowsy when they leave, and as the local anesthetic wears off, they’ll have some discomfort as well. Taking prescribed or over-the-counter pain medication as instructed by the dentist will help your child manage the pain, and they can use an ice pack to reduce both pain and swelling.

Recovery is a great time for soft foods like ice cream, puddings, and smoothies. Avoid drinking straws, since they can dislodge the clots that help the incision sites heal. Have some distractions on hand, like movies, video games, or books and magazines — activities that enable your child to rest as they heal. Swelling and discomfort typically resolve within two to three days, with most other symptoms like stiffness going away after a week or so.

Preparing for wisdom tooth removal can go a long way toward relieving anxiety and helping your child enjoy a faster and more pleasant recovery. To learn more about wisdom tooth extractions at Eagle River Dental or to schedule an office visit, contact the practice today.

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