Wisdom teeth removal is an outpatient procedure performed on 5 million Americans each year, but many people still have reservations when it's their turn. This is especially the case for some younger patients — and their parents. Wisdom teeth can come in as early as age 17, and if your teenager needs to undergo the procedure, then you should understand the best ways to provide support before, during, and after the surgery. With that in mind, here's a quick guide to help parents know what to expect during their teenager's wisdom tooth removal procedure.
Before the procedure is scheduled, you and your teen's dentist will discuss the type of sedation to be administered. Patients typically receive an injection of localized anesthetic in addition to nitrous oxide; however, there are a variety of sedation options. For more complicated procedures, IV sedation or generalized anesthesia may be the best choice. The global specialty gases market is forecast to surpass $14 billion by 2026, and while some forms of sedation don't involve specialty gases, so-called "laughing gas" is usually administered before widsom tooth extraction.
Unfortunately, everyone reacts differently to anesthetic. A few hours after the procedure, most people will feel lingering drowsiness and hazy memories. However, some young people respond very negatively to anesthetic. Your son or daughter may feel intense nasuea, headaches, confusion, and other troubling side effects. Talking to your teen and their dentist is the best way to form the right sedation plan.
After the Procedure
Once the procedure is over with (the average surgery usually takes approximately 45 minutes), you'll have to drive your teen home and let them rest for several days. During this period of time, they should only consume foods and beverages approved by their dentist. There are also several activities that should be avoided during the recovery period because they can irritate the surgery site. Even something as simple as using a drinking straw can cause the blood clots in the removal site to loosen, which is a painful condition called a dry socket.
When it comes to pain management, many dentists provide opiates like Vicodin or Oxycodone. While these drugs are effective, they can also come with their own set of side effects, like nausea. Make sure to monitor your child's intake of any prescription drugs to ensure they're taken properly.
Risks of Non-Treatment
Even though dentistry is considered one of the 10 most trusted and ethical professions in the United States, you may be surprised to hear that there is some conflict surrounding the necessity of the procedure as a whole. Not everybody needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, but for those who do, failing to get the procedure performed in time can have seriously negative effects on dental health:
"Instead of growing in like a normal tooth, wisdom teeth get trapped or impacted in your jaw, which often makes them grow in at odd angles and press against your back molars, causing pain and swelling. It also forms a narrow crevice between the teeth, creating the perfect food trap. This makes the tooth difficult to clean, which attracts more bacteria and can cause infection and tooth decay, eventually leading to gum disease, if left untreated," write Gene Kim and Shira Polan on Business Insider.
According to the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools, 51 million school hours are lost each year due to a dental-related illness, and even though wisdom teeth removal isn't a 100% risk free procedure, experts agree that it's better, in most cases, to undergo it in order to prevent these potential future repercussions.
Ultimately, communicating with your teen and their dental professional is the best way to form the right treatment plan when it comes to wisdom teeth removal.