HomeHouston Dental SpecialitiesThe Smart (Wo)Man’s Guide to Wisdom Teeth Removal

The Smart (Wo)Man’s Guide to Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom Teeth Removal The summer has flown by and it’s back to school time again, but this year it’s different. Your oldest is headed off to college. So instead of worrying about homerooms and lunches, you’re outfitting a dorm room and paying for a meal plan. You keep expecting your youngest child to have his 12 year molars any time now, but sometimes life throws you a curve ball: it’s your college freshman who is having the teething pains. Time to call your family dentist at Summit Dental Center.

So You’re Going to the Dentist Before School Starts…

…and the dentist gives you the diagnosis: your teen’s teething pain is caused by her third molars, a.k.a wisdom teeth. They are growing at an angle instead of straight, so they will only erupt part of the way. They will keep causing her pain and will let food and bacteria build up under her gums along the roots of the adjacent tooth. Infection, tooth decay, and gum disease can quickly follow. It’s time to get them taken out!

Wisdom Teeth Removal Under General Anesthesia

A lot of people choose general anesthesia to get their wisdom teeth removed. That’s no surprise, considering that the removal of four teeth is no small matter, and many of us prefer to “go to sleep” and not feel a thing.

After you arrive at Summit Dental Center, we’ll get your teen settled in the dental chair and the oral surgeon and dental assistant will come back and talk through everything. You won’t be able to be in the room at this point, but it might help your son or daughter to know what will happen next:

  • First, we’ll take the blood pressure. That’s easy, and they’ve likely had it done before. It doesn’t hurt at all.
  • Next, we’ll start the anesthetic by IV line. Usually, we administer this in the arm or hand and tape it in place. The needle is probably the worst part of the procedure, and the pain level depends on how sensitive the elbow or hand is. Most patients experience the insertion of the IV needle as nothing more than a brief pinch. We’d rate this step as a level 3 on the pain scale, but IV insertion happens so quickly that the discomfort recedes right away.
  • Once the IV is hooked up, we’ll have your teen count backwards from ten. Most patients make it to 8 and then don’t remember anything else. What does this mean? It means that from here on out, your teen will be unaware of the procedure and feel nothing at all.
  • If you have reason to believe that your child will be sensitive to general anesthetic, let us know. Most people don’t have a problem, but occasionally a patient has a sensitivity that causes vomiting. It’s not a big deal, but also not what you want when recovering from oral surgery. Maybe have a trash can on hand in the car…just in case.
  • While your teen is “sleeping,” the surgeon may rub or inject local anesthetic on the gums and in the jaw so that the area isn’t as sore when the IV sedation wears off. Don’t worry…your teen won’t feel these injections since the general anesthesia will have already have done its job.
  • Open wide! The surgeon will make incisions around each wisdom tooth to gain access. He’ll need to fracture the teeth and remove the pieces. Your teen remains under anesthesia at this point, and won’t feel any discomfort.
  • Finally, the oral surgeon will stitch up the socket with dissolving sutures and likely pack the area with gauze. The gauze should remain in place for a couple of hours or so to slow and stop any bleeding.

What Kind Of Pain Can your Teen Expect Following Surgery?

At Summit Dental Center, we use a very gentle touch on all our dental patients, but having up to 4 teeth extracted can sometimes leave a little discomfort, mostly in the form of soreness that hovers around a 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. The good news is that the discomfort will steadily decrease over the next few days, and we’ll prescribe painkillers to help manage it.

Be sure to follow all post-surgery instructions and avoid the use of drinking straws, tobacco and alcohol. If your teen experiences severe pain at any time following the procedure, call your dentist. While some soreness is to be expected, extreme pain is NOT a normal part of the healing process!

Wisdom teeth extraction is a standard procedure our Summit Dental Center surgeons perform on regular basis. Here are some tips on how to make the experience as easy as possible:

  • Make a list of all your questions to ask. For peace of mind, get them all out of the way before surgery.
  • Check your schedule. Make sure you plan ahead so that a reliable person is available to transport your son or daughter to and from the Summit Dental office on the day of surgery.
  • Prepare a comfy nest. Decide together where your kid is going to rest and recuperate. Make it a clean, cozy space with extra blankets and pillows, ideal for resting after surgery.
  • Stock up your pantry. Teenagers can eat you out of house and home on a regular day, but after oral surgery, there are some limitations about what they can eat. Soft, easy-to-chew foods are the best choices especially for the first 48 hours after surgery. Great choices include oatmeal, mashed potatoes, eggs, and thin soup. Stay away from hard foods like chips, pretzels, popcorn, meat and raw veggies because they can hurt the gums and the incision areas. Also avoid drinking through a straw or smoking, since the pressure from sucking can cause a painful condition called dry socket. Milkshakes and smoothies are soothing, but make sure she drinks them from a cup or eats them with a spoon!
  • Schedule the procedure for as early in the day as possible. Your teen should fast 8-12 hours before surgery; doctors usually write this instruction as “nothing per oral (npo) after midnight.” No one wants to walk around with a “hangry” teenager all day, so get the surgery out of the way early. She can eat when you get home!

Having an easy recovery from your wisdom teeth surgery is mainly a matter of preparation and knowledge. Summit Dental Center is here to help you