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Wisdom Teeth

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Health > Wisdom Teeth


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Worried about teen's wisdom teeth surgery

Dec 2011

My 19 year old son is scheduled for wisdom teeth surgery in the first week of January. I never had mine pulled, but I know plenty of people who did, and know what to reasonably expect. Today my brother sent me an disturbing article entitled: ''Parents Sue After Teen Dies During Wisdom Tooth Surgery'' and now I'm worried. The oral surgeon has been practicing for a long time and comes highly recommended. Can anyone tell me what your experience was and or if your children have had their's removed? Thanks. Mollie


Death during oral surgery is usually rare, but there is more risk if the patient has any physical condition that may increase risk during anesthesia. Physical risks can be respiratory, heart problems, or even allergies among other things.

When my daughter had her wisdom teeth removed not too long ago, we discussed anesthesia methods with our Oral Surgeon, we also inquired about his staffing, who would administer the anesthesia and their qualifications, how they monitored the patient, success rate vs any fatalities, and emergency procedures. When I had mine out - they used nitrous oxide (laughing gas) so I was still partially conscious, but they only did one side at a time, and I had to have two surgeries, but I was in a hospital dental clinic. Now they usually do all four at the same time. If you son has any conditions you may want to consult his medical doctor about any cautionary recommendations..

Be very clear about preparing for the surgery - how many hours before to stop eating or drinking, be sure to inform the surgeon about any other medications being taken, what the post op procedure is to follow and what support there is if you have any questions after surgery or your child has any problem or persistent pain or other symptoms, is there someone to call, can you get in to see the doctor for followup. Also whether this followup is included in the cost of services. If food is eaten too close to surgery you may need to postpone the procedure. They are pretty specific about how much time you need to allow and this needs to be adhered to.

Hope that helps - most people need to have this done now, but being very clear with any surgical procedure is helpful. Wishing you the best


I had all four of my wisdom teeth taken out (30!) years ago. It was kinda cool. I went to the oral surgeon's and got some kind of drug that left me somewhat awake, but VERY relaxed. Two of my teeth were slightly impacted and much tugging ensued. I didn't feel a thing and went home and iced my jaws. Stitches were taken out later and all went well. It was a non-event in my life. I think I still have the teeth somewhere. Hope that makes you feel better. small-jawed
Hi - Well, I had mine pulled as a young adult, no biggie. But, when I read that article to which you refer, it got me thinking. When an orthodontist recommended braces for my 11 y.o. I did a lot of research in medical journals. Turns out early braces (or phase one of a two-phase braces treatment) is not supported by the evidence, but it does buy a lot of Mercedes for orthodontists We opted for a retainer, and at age 14 or so, we can re-assess. So - braces are NOT the same as wisdom teeth extraction. I think I would say, if there's no clear medical reason, I'd likely leave 'em in. If you have access to medical journals (like at UCB library - you'll need to go there to use the online journals) and can reasonably research the literature, you can read the evidence or lack thereof for yourself. sorta been there
I am like you. I didn't have my wisdom teeth removed, but we choose to have my son's wisdom teeth removed the summer before he went off to college. We didn't want them to erupt while he was far away from home. The oral surgeon did a couple of things during a pre-surgery visit that helped us feel confident. He had us watch a film of the procedure to know what to expect. He checked my son's weight to ensure that the proper amount of anesthesia would be administered. I later came to understand that this was very important. My son was a very muscular football player who weighted almost 300 lbs. (a defensive lineman) and they needed to get the amounts right -- too much would depress his breathing and too little would mean he would wake up during surgery.

After the procedure my son was very very groggy and needed to be wheeled to the car in a wheel chair. He had to have ice packs on his jaws for about 24 hours and a liquid diet. He couldn't rinse his mouth because the clouting over the gums was necessary to healing. After the first 48 hours, it was easier for him to manage himself, but he definitely needed someone to be with him during those first 24 hours as the anesthesia wore off. If you meet with the oral surgeon ahead of time and ask questions about his protocols around anesthesia, you will probably feel more comfortable and know what to expect and how to know when things aren't right once he's home. Good luck. I am sure all will go well.


Wisdom teeth removal at 33

March 2009

Hi , I think I will like to hear from some of you that had the wisdom teeth removed at this age. It seems that the roots of my lower teeth are touching some nerve and that the chances of damaging the nerve are very high , but not sure if the damage is permanent or not. So I read all the horror stories out there on the internet, but very little info on successful stories,I did check this info with a surgeon. I guess I need to check what other surgeons have to say. Also one of them is partially exposed so this one is at very high risk of getting infected.

I'm terrified that something might go terribly wrong. How can I find the best capable doctor? So far I used Yelp, My friends have not needed anything like this done. I didn't like my dentist referal? Is it very painful? How long do I need to recover? I have a 2 and a 4yo , so I know I need to plan for this too. Thanks to all for any input. Please share your stories good and bad, In pain just to think of it!


I just had my two top wiz teeth out at 43 and it was a breeze. I had a great oral surgeon. Forgot his name, but he was in Berkeley and he was fantastic. I was really nervous about anestesia. Mine were not impacted so i just did valium, gas, and then the novacaine. I wish I could remember my surgeon's name. He was just wonderful.

It sounds like you have a more difficult procedure ahead of you. When I was referred to the oral surgeon, we had a very throrough consultation where we discussed the process and the types of anestesia available. If you do this you'll feel better. It sounds like you have no choice but to have them out so you need to do it.

I was really nervous about it but am so glad I did it. I think you will be too. no more wisdom for me


I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 24. It was no big deal, the teeth popped out, I had very little pain and a very short recovery time. My teeth are lousy - lots of fillings, a crown, a bridge, but the wisdom teeth procedure was a breeze, and I've had root canal work which was less painful than getting a filling.

And I have a wonderful dentist, Dr. Sepand Hokmabadi in Oakland, 654-5752, his office is near 51st & Broadway. He is very skilled, a Bay Area native, and very nice. Metal Mouth


I had my wisdom teeth removed as an adult and it was painful but not worse than when I got my tonsils removed! In my opinion, the BEST oral surgeons in town are Drs Bloom, Berger etc in Berkeley. They have removed about 12 of my daughter's teeth (started when she was about 6 yrs old and latest were her wisdom teeth at age 15) and she has come through them all with flying colors. They are so good-they know what they are doing! You will be fine... anon
My husband had his out about your age. He was zonked on pain meds the day the procedure was performed. The next day he was much better, still had pain and continued with the pain meds, although not as much as the first day. Ultimately, it wasn't as bad as he feared it would be.

Hopefully there could be someway to shift any child care or household duties to another while you recover. Best of luck to you


I had my wisdom teeth removed right around that age, and it was easier than I expected. Much. I was terrified (don't like dentists, had a horrible experience with tooth removal at age 12--wasn't numb...didn't go to a dentist for 7 years after that...) but I had a really good dentist in SF (Jeff Brucia) who was very sensitive to my pain and fear, and progressed with each step only when I was ready. The whole procedure wasn't much worse than getting fillings. Not bad at all. Quite painless. I'm really glad I did it. Keep searching for a dentist who you trust...through friends or this network. Good luck! Heidi
I had my wisdom teeth removed a few years back at age 29, and I had a 4-month-old at home. I was pretty worried, as I had heard many horror stories from friends, but it went great! I'm sorry to say that I can't remember the dentist's name, but he was in downtown Oakland at 17th and Franklin. Even HE said, ''Why didn't you get these out when you were 18? The risks increase dramatically when you are older.'' (Who me? Older?!) Well, nobody ever suggested it! I had never had any problems with my wisdom teeth, which had all erupted straight and weren't crowding. It wasn't until I first got a cavity in one of them that the dentist suggested getting them out. He said that they are nearly impossible to keep clean, and once you have a cavity, it just recurs. Anyway, I was asleep for the whole thing, my husband drove me home and I never had to take anything stronger than ibuprofen. I didn't have any swelling, and was eating regular food about 2 days later. Before that I had smoothies, soup, and scrambled eggs. So, I just wanted to chime in because usually when things go well, nobody tells you! Good luck! Older and now without Wisdom (teeth)
My husband had his 4 wisdom teeth removed when he was about 32. His wisdoms were in really bad shape - cracked, crooked, sensitive. They dentist was also worried about nerve damage. His oral surgeon used general anesthesia, so he needed a ride home from the clinic. Once home, he slept and used his pain meds regularly for the first day. We used ice packs, too. By the second day, he wasn't using the pain meds as frequently. He never complained of pain and followed the instructions about mouth rinsing and foods he could eat. At the time, we didn't have children and I imagine that would change the situation. Make sure you have childcare for that first day - you probably shouldn't be the primary caregiver after receiving narcotics. Also, stock your fridge with jello, pudding, ice cream, smoothies, Ensure, etc. If your partner works M-F, perhaps you could schedule the surgery for Friday so that they could take the day off and then be available all weekend. By Monday, my husband was much better - he even went back to work. He didn't have infections or any complications. He saw an oral surgeon at this group - I can't remember which one. He said he liked the surgeon and all of the techs. http://www.berkeleyoralsurgery.com/splash/splash.html have no fear
I had my wisdom teeth removed at 30 with similar issues as yours. The oral surgeon I went to broke the teeth off leaving the tips in, as he said the risk of removing the whole tooth and actually hitting the nerve were too great. He said there is a slight possibility in some people that the tips may come up, in which case they would need to be removed. I did ''teeth'' a bit while pregnant with my second (I guess it was the growth hormones), but it was minor and the tips did not come through. The oral surgeon I went was Dr. Pratt in Alameda. He was great, I had absolutely no problems afterward, and the surgery took all of 20 minutes or so. He's on Central Avenue nd was covered by Delta Dental. M
I had five wisdom teeth out in my late 20s. (Yes, five! I originally had six, and had had the first one taken out a few years earlier.) As you can imagine, with that many wisdom teeth, they were a real mess -- three of them were fully impacted, two partially, with very crooked and twisted roots. When I saw the teeth afterward, I was astonished the oral surgeon was able to get them out in one piece without breaking my jaw! Even with that, though, I was more or less fully recovered within a week. The first day was pretty rough, but the pain subsided pretty quickly after that.

You will definitely need someone to take care of you AND your kids for at least a day or two. I was eating mashed bananas and drinking smoothies for about a week, so you will want to stock up on things like that ahead of time. Most important: FILL YOUR PAIN PRESCRIPTION IMMEDIATELY! Once the anesthesia wears off, you will really need the pain relief for that first day. My sister drove me home from the surgery, and insisted on stopping on the way home to fill my prescription, despite my reassurances that I was fine. By the time she got back to the car, I was definitely in pain and so glad to have those drugs! Also, don't freak out too much about any swelling of your jaw after the surgery; it should subside fairly quickly. Keep some ice packs handy for a couple of days.

I'm sorry I can't help you with a recommendation for an oral surgeon; I was living back east when I had my wisdom teeth out. It really is best to have your wisdom teeth out if they're causing you problems, because those problems will only get worse over time. Best of luck! -- Less Toothy, But Just as Wise!


I had my wisdom teeth out as an adult. They were all impacted, I have a very small mouth, and it was just no big deal. You will need someone to drive you home and stay home with you the first day. Do take your pain meds right after leaving the doctor or when you first really wake up. I slept the entire next 24 hours basically and the next day went to a fair and walked around all day (eating soft foods). Wisdom teeth are a bit like pregnancy/delivery. Everyone has a different experience and sometimes the people with bad experiences are the only ones to report what happened. I thought it was one of the most-over-hyped experiences ever. No biggie. Easy Teeth
I had my five (yep, five) wisdom teeth removed at about 23. Fortunately, the fifth tooth did not have a full root on it and ALL of them were in straight. The procedure itself was pretty pain-free - I actually don't remember it being painful at all with the anesthesia - and the recovery curve was such that I was down to regular Tylenol within two days.

A BIG piece of advice - super-long toothpicks! I would get foodstuffs stuck in the craters left where the teeth came out, and the only way to comfortably remove the food (swishing out with warm water didn't help) was to use the long 'deli' type toothpicks used to keep sandwiches together.

You will likely want to cut 'tough' things up into smaller pieces for ease of chewing. Wisdom(less)


I just wanted to second the recommendation for Dr. Pratt in Alameda. My husband had to have his wisdom teeth removed at age 40 and he was fabulous. Without going into detail, my husband ended up with complications requiring follow-up visits, simply because he had waited so long to have this done. Dr. Pratt was incredible in handling everything and the end result is that my husband has had no further problems. My husband wanted me to mention that Dr. Pratt considers himself a specialist in wisdom teeth just because he does so much of this type of work. Tooth Fairy

17-year-old having all four out - any advice?

Dec 2008

My 17 year old is getting her wisdom teeth (all four) removed on a Friday soon. She still has braces on. Any advice to help her recovery go smoothly and make her comfortable (so she can hopefully get back to school ASAP)? Thanks! BPN Mom


Both of my kids have had their wisdom teeth out and had fairly quick recoveries. They were definitely ready to go back to school after a couple of days. Three healing things:

1) Mother love. Be there to bring ice cream, pudding, painkillers, ice packs, the remote, keep track of the antibiotics and painkillers, and fluff the pillows on the couch. Nothing heals like having someone at your beck and call.

2) Frozen peas. Buy several bags of frozen peas to use as ice packs. I was pretty good at swapping them out for the first few hours.

3) Arnica. I gave my kids the homeopathic remedy arnica. See http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA326567 for dosage ideas. I'm not a big believer in homeopathy but I think it worked despite my skepticism.

If your daughter has not experienced anesthesia before you should warn her about the feelings she might have afterwards (numbness, feeling out of it, etc.) (My daughter had only foggy memories of the trip home, didn't remember our conversation, etc.)

Best wishes to you both. Sally


My daughter just had all 4 teeth removed. I think I would allow as much time as you can. Although she had it done on a tuesday before Thanksgiving and went back to school on Monday, an infection started in her gum and she still had pain and couldn't eat food that required chewing.

Our dentist (Dr. Krey) told us to allow 6 days and boy, was he right. Even though she was alert, she was not in condition to focus on school and do homework for that full time.

Best of luck to you. Better now than later! anonymous


My son had all four of his wisdom teeth out when he was 17. I was expecting the worst because I had had mine out a few years earlier and was slow to recover. However, it was a breeze for my son. He spent the afternoon in bed and by the next day, he was ready to resume his regular activities. I think he began eating regular food within just a few days. Both of us went to Bloom & Berger on Dana St. in Berkeley. They are great and really know their stuff. The one bit of advice I have is keep track of the vicodin - it's a very popular commodity in high school circles. G
I had my wisdom teeth out many years ago when I was the same age as your daughter. My grandmother did this for me: slept next to me and set the alarm so that I took Vicodin every six hours for one and a half days. She also put ice packs on my face every two hours and held them there for 20 minutes each time. After 24 hours she made me jello and I drank it when it was still warm liquid. I did this for 1/2 day, then went to warm pudding. The warmth helped.

By the end of the second day I was okay with Tylonol. No pain, no swelling, no hunger and I was fine after that.

I will say, I did not have braces, so maybe my grandmother's method will not work as successfully for you, but for me it worked. Thank Heaven for my Gram


Should 19-year-old keep her wisdom teeth?

Jan 2003

Are there advantages to keeping your wisdom teeth if possible? For example, putting in a bridge if needed down the road. My little sister is considering removal at age 19, the oral surgeon says they're impacted, but I'm not sure what the consequences could be down the line if she leaves them in. Kristine


Are your sister's impacted wisdom teeth bothering her? I too have my upper wisdom teeth impacted so that they have never ''come in.'' However, they have never bothered me. At the time this was discovered when I was 24 thank heavens I had an honest, sensible dentist (Dr. Pralle) who told me that if they never bothered me I should just keep them in place. I later heard that having wisdom teeth pulled can cause long term shifting of the teeth so that one is more likely to start losing them in middle/old age. So I'd say unless there is a specific problem (pain, absesses), just keep those teeth in place. Dianna
FWIW, I kept my wisdom teeth and it is something of a mixed blessing. There was room for them but my mouth is now so full of teeth, going so far back in my mouth, that the wisdom teeth are more susceptible to decay (because there is so little space between teeth and the jaw joint, and food tends to collect in there.) I had a cavity filled in one of them recently and it was NOT a fun experience. If your sister's teeth are impacted, she may not really have choice but to have them out. If she keeps them, it's not necessarily unadulterated joy. Wendy
For what it's worth, I was told that one of my wisdom teeth was impacted and I should have it surgically removed. That was about 20 years ago.I'm almost 50 and it's still sitting up there minding it's own business. I've heard horror stories about wisdom teeth, so it's hard to know what decision to make, but my feelings are ''If it ain't broke, don't fix it''. I have another wisdom tooth that grew down and took the place of a molar that had to be pulled, years ago. Good luck on your decision. anon
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