If your family dentist has recently recommended wisdom teeth extraction for your teenage child and you are hesitant to agree to the procedure, this is extremely common. Wisdom teeth extraction is a surgical procedure, and many parents want to make sure the surgery is absolutely necessary before giving the okay. It is important to understand that the procedure is usually only recommended if the teeth are causing problems such as pain or cysts, or if the teeth are severely decayed.
Understanding the process of wisdom teeth removal can help you in deciding whether or not the surgery is the right solution for your child.
Preparing for Surgery
The night before the procedure, the oral surgeon may advise your child to refrain from eating or drinking anything after midnight. This is to ensure the effectiveness of the anesthesia used to sedate patients during the surgery. Upon arrival to the oral surgeon's office, your child's vital signs will be taken and an anesthesiologist will administer an intravenous anesthetic.
In most cases, the medication takes effect almost immediately. Sedation anesthesia suppresses pain receptors in the brain, but the patient remains conscious during the procedure. General anesthesia renders the patient unconscious during the procedure. Once the anesthesia takes effect, the oral surgeon will begin the extraction process.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction
During the procedure, the surgeon will first open up the gums in order to access the underlying wisdom teeth. If the teeth are impacted underneath the jaw bone, portions of the jaw bone will be removed prior to extraction. If the wisdom teeth are large in size, they may be split into sections before removal. The surgeon will then remove the teeth with extraction forceps.
Once the teeth are removed, the sockets will be thoroughly rinsed to ensure adequate removal of debris and bone fragments. The oral surgeon will then stitch the openings and pack the spaces with gauze to minimize bleeding and promote blood clotting.
Once the procedure is complete, patients under anesthesia are typically taken to private recovery rooms in order to rest while the medication wears off. When your child is ready to go home, the oral surgeon will provide you with aftercare instructions for your child to follow. While instructions may vary depending on the extent of the procedure, basic aftercare instructions usually include eating a soft food diet, irrigating the mouth with salt water and taking pain medication to minimize soreness swelling.
The oral surgeon may also advise against using straws, as the sucking motion can cause the blood clots in the extraction areas to become dislodged, which in turn can lead to improper healing and infection. During the healing process, it is common for the face to appear slightly swollen and bruised. The swelling can be controlled with ice packs and bruising should fade as the swelling goes down.
It is important to contact the oral surgeon if your child experiences signs of infection such as fever or pus in the tooth sockets to ensure prompt antibiotic treatment. It should take approximately 3 to 4 weeks for your child's gums to completely heal. Healing of the underlying bone can take as long as six months, but pain should typically begin to dissipate within a few days following the surgery.
Benefits of Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Wisdom teeth extraction is extremely beneficial for individuals who are experiencing severe pain, decay or overcrowding due to impacted or infected wisdom teeth. By taking some time to learn more information on the procedure and discussing any concerns you have with your family dentist, you will be able to make an informed decision regarding your child's oral health needs.