Wisdom Teeth Extraction for Your College-Bound Teens

3rd molarsYou have your young adult all set for college:  he’s officially enrolled in his new school, you’ve bought all his school necessities, and his dorm essentials are all set.  But wait!  It looks like he needs to have his wisdom teeth taken out first, before they start to bother him while he’s away at college.  He may be adamant he doesn’t need them out, but believe us, he will thank you later when his roommate is writing from pain because he didn’t get his wisdom teeth taken out!

Here’s what to expect after his procedure so you can be sure he heals fast with no problems.  First, let’s talk about why wisdom teeth need to be extracted in the first place.

Preventive wisdom teeth extraction is generally recommended by your Federal Way dentist for these reasons:

  • It is safer to remove impacted wisdom teeth before they cause problems such as headaches, ear aches, pain and/or swelling, jaw pain, bad breath and taste, swollen glands, and damage to nearby teeth as they erupt.
  • Future gum disease could occur due to crowding or hard to clean areas
  • Removing wisdom teeth when a person is young reduces future risks.  Adults may experience health complications, especially if they choose to be sedated for the procedure.  Additionally, many dentists believe it’s better to remove wisdom teeth before the roots are fully formed, when someone is younger and are more likely to recover faster from surgery.  This is why some young adults have their wisdom teeth pulled before the teeth cause problems and become more firmly rooted in the jaw.
  • If extraction is completed before age 18-25, most insurance will cover a large portion of it.

As parents, we want to make sure our children experience as little discomfort as possible.  To ensure they go through the healing process with as little pain as possible, we have created a list of things to do and not to do during recovery:

What to do after surgery:

  • Any gauze placed over the extraction site should be left on for about 30-45 minutes.  You will be given extra gauze to take home and you can change it if needed.
  • Take your initial pain medication while you are still numb, as it takes about 30 minutes for the medication to take effect.  The first couple days, it is best to keep ahead of the pain to make life easier.
  • Place ice packs on the sides of the face where the surgery was done.  Twenty minutes on, twenty minutes off for the first few hours.  Frozen bags of peas make great ice packs!
  • Sleep.  Rest is best, especially if sedation was done with the surgery.
  • Eat soft food for the first few days and chew away from the extraction site as much as possible.
  • After a day or two, rinse regularly (5-6 times) with warm salt water, especially after eating.  Not only will this keep the area clean, but it will also help it heal alot faster.

Things to avoid after surgery:

  • Vigorous mouth rinsing.  You want to avoid dislodging the blood clot, which is the first stage of healing.  It the clot becomes dislodged, it can cause LOTS of discomfort.
  • Drinking through a straw, spitting, or smoking for at least 48 hours.  These can also cause the blood clot to dislodge.
  • Eating hard crunchy foods for the first few days.
  • High- and medium-intensity activities, like sports.  It’s important to avoid strenuous activity on the day of surgery.  Sports, exercise, and normal activities can be resumed when comfortable.

What to expect:

  • Numbness.  A long acting anesthetic may have been used to help with discomfort, so expect for numbness to last for a while.
  • Discoloration.  It may look like the area is bruised.  This is normal and is due to blood spreading beneath the tissue.  This could continue for 2-3 days after surgery.
  • Tenderness and swelling.  Resume with brushing and flossing the next day but be careful around the extraction site until the area has healed more.  Keep taking pain medication as needed.
  • Sutures are sometimes placed to minimize bleeding and help with healing.  They can be resorbable, but may be the kind that need to be removed, and that is usually a week after surgery.  If sutures get dislodged, there is no need to panic.  Just dispose of them and call the office to see if a follow-up is needed.
  • Bone chips.  During healing, you may notice small bony fragments working their way through the gums that can be easily removed if needed.

If your child experiences an extreme amount of pain after the surgery, call our office at 253-941-6365 right away.  We want to make sure he is not experiencing a dry socket, which is when the blood clot gets prematurely dislodged from the tooth socket, causing pain and discomfort.

Having your college-bound teen’s wisdom teeth extracted now instead of later can help prevent missed classes, diving grades, and painful symptoms!  If you have any questions about when to have your child’s wisdom teeth removed, our Federal Way dental team is happy to help out ~ leave a comment below or call us at 253-941-6365.

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