A Different Type of Visit
It’s true that visiting a pediatric dentist can be traumatizing for some children. As adults, we try to help our kids feel brave — we explain why the dentist is important, what they will be doing to our teeth, and even try to establish some sort of rewards system for going in between check ups without a cavity — but when the time comes and they’re sitting in the chair and the cleaning brush begins to whirr, our preparation might be for not.
Getting wisdom teeth taken out is an altogether different kind of visit, however. Firstly, your child will be much older (wisdom teeth usually come in between the ages of 17-25). After some pleasant chatter with the dentist, we administer nitrous oxide to help your child feel calm. They may fall asleep but will not feel the surgery taking place. Afterward, they get a few days to recover at home, eat soft foods, and then they’re good to go.
As parents, we thrive off of information. It helps us know how to best help our children prepare for a procedure like this. The more we can know about wisdom teeth removal, then, the better this visit will go for everyone.
Why Get Them Removed?
Before we can understand why exactly dentists recommend having your wisdom teeth removed, we should know where they’re located within the mouth. Your wisdom teeth are the third set of molars (the big, flat teeth used for smashing food), sitting directly next to the back hinge of the jaw.
When the wisdom teeth break through the gums, they often don’t have enough room to grow. You may hear the term “impacted” floating around pediatric dentistry but that simply means that the tooth is constricted and should likely be removed. Over 90% of people with wisdom teeth have at least one impacted tooth.
If the teeth aren’t extracted according to the dentist’s recommendation, they can end up being hazardous to your health in a few big ways, such as:
- Crooked teeth: Having a large set of teeth pushing on the others can cause them to grow at odd angles, which is unsightly and may damage the enamel of teeth that have collided with others.
- Infections: Because the teeth are in the back of the mouth, they are usually difficult for kids to diligently clean them. This can lead to a build-up of bacteria, the eruption of caries, and eventually rotten and painful teeth.
With issues such as these, it’s not a surprise that nearly 85% of wisdom teeth need to eventually be removed.
How It’s Done
Operating on children for their dental care can seem like a frightening proposition, which is why your dentist will usually want to perform an x-ray to see which teeth need to be removed. We then will administer an anesthetic to keep the pain down while we work.
The procedure itself is one with which the team at Timpanogos Pediatric Dentistry has extensive experience.
- The gums surrounding the wisdom teeth are opened.
- The dentist and their assistants will use tools to delicately sever the connective tissue between the gums and the tooth.
- The tooth will get pulled out.
- The resultant cavity will be closed with dissolvable sutures.
Typically, the procedure lasts about an hour and will never need to be performed again in their lifetime. It’s a one-and-done bit of tooth care for your kids.
Once the surgery is finished, the child will be given a chance to rouse somewhat from their drowsiness. They will still be under the influence of the nitrous oxide and anesthetic, however, so you should plan on accompanying your child to the procedure, even if they can drive themselves.
They will likely feel the presence of cotton balls in their mouth, as well as the stitches. The cotton should be changed out regularly to allow for new ones to soak up any drool or blood. Otherwise, the patient will feel numbness and experience a bit of swelling for a few days.
At Timpanogos Pediatric Dentistry, we take the dental care of our Utah children very seriously. If they have been complaining of mouth pain and you know that they haven’t had their wisdom teeth out since becoming a teenager, then it’s important to bring them in for a full check-up.