Just about the time you think you’re almost out of the high-order parenting gig, along come those pesky wisdom teeth. Now, you’ve nursed your child through other illnesses. You’ve waited on them when they had upset tummies, the flu, and strep throat. If your child has broken any bones you’ve been there for that too. But it’s possible that as your child has entered the teen years that you haven’t had to be that involved in their illnesses because they were getting big enough to basically take care of themselves.
And it’s been nice.
And then your child complains about their jaw hurting or your dentist brings up the dreaded news that the wisdom teeth are going to have to come out. Oh goody! You’re not excited and neither is your child (your wallet won’t be excited either).
Remember, your child is going to be sore for a few days. There’s just no getting around that fact. Fortunately, it’s temporary and it helps to know what to expect before the big day arrives.Here are some things to help both you and your child have an easier recovery time.
Make Your Child More Comfortable By Doing These Things:
- Be sure you fully understand the orders from your dentist about what your child can eat, when to take medicine, how to administer any topical medicines, and the symptoms of dry socket (listed below).
- Be sure you’ve stocked up on plenty of soft foods before you bring your child home. Granted, your teen will have their own personal favorite foods, but some common ones include ice cream, yogurt, pudding, jello, milkshakes, soup, and mashed potatoes.
- Your dentist will probably tell you to avoid carbonated drinks for the first few days. So load the grocery cart up with things like Gatorade, lemonade, tea, Kool-aid, etc. Remember that no straws will be allowed for a few days so if you make milkshakes remember that you’ll need to provide a spoon.
- If you don’t already have some, invest in a couple of medical gel packs that you chill in your freezer. This will help keep swelling down after the surgery. Your dentist will likely remind you to apply the cold pack no more than 20 minutes at a time.
- At some point your child may be instructed to rinse her mouth out with a salt water solution. Generally this doesn’t mean a vigorous swishing around of the liquid, but just enough to help dislodge any food particles and to help with pain.
- Keeping track of when your child took the pain medicines is imperative. Whether you write the specific medicines and times down on a white board on the refrigerator simply keep notes on a pad of paper, your child at some point will want to know when they can have the next pain pill – so don’t forget to log this information so that you’re not scratching your head depending on your memory. You’ll want to keep in mind that if your child has been given Hydrocodone, or some other narcotic, that these substances can be highly addictive if not taken properly according to the doctor’s directions. And of course, if you have younger children in the house you’ll want to keep this medicine out of their hands.
- And finally, don’t forget to take along a pillow and/or blanket to make your child more comfortable on the way home. Since we live in a small town and the dentist is 1 ½ hours away, this step was critical so that our daughter could sleep most of the way home.
What You Need to Know About Dry Socket:
- Not everyone who gets their wisdom teeth pulled experiences this painful condition. It’s estimated that less than 5% of people will be afflicted. However, it is more common with wisdom teeth extraction than with the pulling of other teeth and it may be more likely if the extraction of the teeth was more difficult than usual.
- The pain generally will start a couple of days after the teeth have been pulled. Dry socket is caused when the blood clots that formed at the extraction site become dislodged and leave the hole where the teeth used to be open. This means that the nerves in this area aren’t protected from air, liquids, and food. Infection is more likely should dry socket occur. Your dentist will probably send home specific information and a topical gel to apply should dry socket develop.
- If you suspect dry socket because your child is complaining of extreme pain, pull the cheek back and take a look at the jawbone. If you don’t see the darkish color of blood clots, and if your child is running a fever, call your doctor since these are signs of dry socket.
- Contact your dentist immediately if you suspect dry socket. You may be required to bring your child back to the office or you may be given instructions over the phone for home treatment. It’s also likely an antibiotic may be required to prevent or cure any infection. Your oral surgeon should have a night and weekend number that you can call if problems arise during non-office hours.
While getting one’s wisdom teeth out is never a fun experience, it doesn’t have to be a horrible one either. Encourage your child to rest and sleep as much as possible. After all, a sleeping child – no matter what their age – is a more comfortable child. And that makes the experience better for everyone.