Tooth extractions can be scary for everyone, but these feelings are often heightened for children and teens. Wisdom teeth removal is usually not necessary until the late teens and early adulthood, but there are situations where a child or teen would get theirs removed. This can be a nerve-wracking process for children as they are unsure what to expect from a tooth extraction, but getting them out sooner can help prevent problems in the future. This post will provide you with information about your child’s wisdom teeth removal and hopefully help make the procedure easier.
Why does my child need to remove their wisdom teeth?
During the fundamental teen years, your child will grow in many ways, wisdom teeth included. As these third molars form, they will try to make room for themselves in the jaw but more often than not the jaw is not large enough to accommodate these new teeth. When the teeth cannot break through the gums, they are considered impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a lot of pain as well as problems like cavities, crowding, gum disease, and more serious issues in some cases. Removing the impacted wisdom teeth can alleviate pain as well as prevent any issues that could be caused by leaving them.
Dentists often start to evaluate wisdom teeth removal from age 16 to 19 since it is around that age they start to grow in. It is smart however to evaluate and remove them as soon as it is possible because waiting can cause unnecessary obstacles for your child. It is common for dentists to want to just monitor the wisdom teeth if they are not causing any pain for the child, but removing them early on can be a better option.
When is it necessary for kids to get their wisdom teeth removed?
The signs and symptoms that indicate the need for a child’s wisdom tooth extraction are different for each patient. Some patients do not even realize their wisdom teeth are growing in and others experience pressure or discomfort in the jaw before the teeth are even ready to try to break through the gum. Some common symptoms and signs, however, include pain, facial swelling, swelling of the gums at the back of the jaw, and infection in the mouth. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and one of the biggest benefits of getting your child’s wisdom teeth out is being able to avoid most or all of those symptoms.
Patients that wait to get their wisdom teeth removed, because they are not bothering them, often end up getting them removed when the pain is unbearable. By getting your child’s wisdom teeth removed, they will be able to avoid an excruciating amount of pain and it can also lead to better oral health. When wisdom teeth are impacted, they are known to cause a slew of problems for patients including plaque and bacteria buildup, infection, jaw and gum disease, decay or root resorption of the second molars, and even cyst and tumor development. It may not be a necessarily urgent procedure for a child, but it is usually worth it to avoid the complications that can come with waiting.
Is it painful to have your wisdom teeth removed?
You may have heard that getting your tonsils out is easier as a child than as an adult, and the same goes for the wisdom teeth. In a study done by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, they found that children who got their wisdom teeth removed between the ages of 9 and 16 had a decreased risk for alveolar osteitis, second molar damage, and nerve involvement. They also found that patients who had their third molars removed after the age of 25 were at 1.5 times higher risk for complications.
In general, children have a shorter recovery period than adults as their bodies can adapt to change quickly. That’s not to say the surgery is completely painless, but your child should only experience mild discomfort for a couple of days. The surgeon will administer an anesthetic to help with any pain during the procedure and medication to help manage any pain after. If the pain increases or persists after a few days, contact your surgeon for help.
What should I feed my child after having wisdom teeth removed?
After your child’s wisdom teeth have been removed, the surgeon will give you post-operative instructions. These instructions will tell you all of the things your child should and should not do while the extraction site heals. Ideally, your child will lay low for a few days, limiting their activity and eating only soft foods. These foods, like applesauce and yogurt, should not require much if any chewing and should not be eaten through a straw. Following the doctor’s orders is incredibly important to prevent infection and to promote quick healthy healing.
It might be hard as a parent to decide whether or not your child is ready for wisdom tooth extraction which is why it is important to go to a dentist you trust. Your child’s dentist will be able to make recommendations based on what is best for your child’s health and answer all of your questions along the way.