It’s hilariously ironic that during the teen years, when our kid’s entire rational thought process is replaced by something we don’t even recognize, is when dentists and oral surgeons suggest the removal of possibly the last “smart” thing in their heads- their wisdom teeth.
Because of their late appearance, third molars have been coined “wisdom teeth,” and usually erupt in late childhood- when our kids have presumably gained a bit of wisdom. But like I said, it’s when we’re begging for wisdom while parenting teens that those same named teeth are recommended to be extracted. If only leaving those teeth in meant gaining actual wisdom….
If your teen has recently been told by their dental care provider that it’s time to have their wisdom teeth removed, there are some self-care steps you can take pre-op and afterwards to make recovery as quick and painless as possible.
10 Tips When Your Teen’s Getting Wisdom Teeth Pulled
1. Get Tropical
We’ve heard anecdotally that raw pineapple juice contains the proteolytic enzyme Bromelain which may aid in the reduction of inflammation and swelling, and may also reduce bruising. We could not find the science to back that up but it may be worth a try.
2. Ice, Ice Baby
Ice packs are your teen’s best friend post surgery, so have plenty on hand to keep in the rotation (some on their face, some in the freezer.) Ask your surgeon if they have or sell specially designed dental cool gel packs, which are made to wrap around head and face post surgery. These Reusable Gel Ice Packs With Cloth Backing are available on Amazon. Frozen peas also work wonderfully.
3. No Straws. I repeat, NO STRAWS.
Your teen won’t be able to chew solid food for a few days, and will most likely be drinking lots of fluids to help with recovery, and also plenty of smoothies for their nutritional value but here’s the thing- NO STRAWS WHATSOEVER. Any sucking motion on a straw can dislodge the fibrous blog clots which will form in the tooth socket, and can be painful and causes further infection and issues like a dry socket. Drink straight from cups and bowls. (Wear a towel on your shirt because drooling WILL happen.)
4. Have Puke Bucket, Will Travel
Some teens don’t handle I.V. “twilight” anesthetic type medicine too well, and may wake up nauseated, or become that way once moving in a car. Have a vomit catcher at the ready for the ride home, and by their side once resting.
5. One Potentially Priceless Home Movie
By now you’ve probably seen a few viral videos of teens coming out of oral surgery, still a bit doped up on drugs, and acting like a cross between a sugared up toddler and a drunk sorority girl. If you’re up for it (and don’t get too much kick back from your teen), some parents suggest videotaping them post surgery-if only for a few laughs at their semi-conscious state a few days later.
6. Take Their Phones Away
Ever heard of drunk texting? Well, now multiply that embarrassing scene by 1,000, because that’s what you have with a teen on narcotic pain relief, while simultaneously coming down from twilight type anesthesia. It’s a recipe for social media disaster, and they do NOT need to have their phones in their hands while their heads are in the clouds. Cautionary tale – look here for what you might NOT want your kid to do.
7. Upright Bedtimes
If possible, have your teen sleep upright in a recliner after they’ve gotten their wisdom teeth extracted, or propped up with plenty of pillows for the first few nights. It will help reduce bleeding, and although ice packs may not be needed during the night, if they’re sleeping upright, it’s a lot easier for those packs to stay in place that way.
8. Soft Food Shopping
Pretend your back in the infant feeding days, and do all your food shopping with soft and mushy in mind. Ice cream, applesauce, pudding cups, Jell-O,fruit cups, mashed potatoes, and the like will all be welcome foods once the milkshake thrill wear off.
9. The Great Pain Pill Debate
This one is totally up to your discretion and the pain tolerance of your teen, but consider nixing the use of opioid pain medicine post surgery. Talk extensively with your oral surgeon about it, and the alternatives that may be do just as well in controlling and managing the pain. Again, some teens may do fine with only Ibuprofen, and some may need more relief to help with recovery and resting sufficiently. When in doubt about pain control, or if you’re feeling that your teen is showing signs of drug dependency, call your oral surgeon and/or primary care physician immediately for proper intervention and alternative pain control.
10. Dry Sockets Are No Joke
It’s imperative your teen diligently follow all post surgery instructions, including the use of the syringe to clean out surgery site. Any sign of severe or consistent pain after after a few days needs to be addressed, and can mean they have what’s called “dry socket,” or when the blood clot has been dislodged leaving nerves exposed. This is extremely painful, and you will need to be seen again by your oral surgeon who may need to clean and fill the socket with a paste or medicated gauze.