Wisdom Teeth

Parent Q&A

  • Concerns about opiate use after wisdom teeth extraction

    (6 replies)

    I have scheduled my college age daughter's wisdom teeth extraction for late summer. In the past 5 years (starting at age 16) she has had 4 surgeries (3 for ACL reconstruction, and 1 for sinus) and every time she has had Oxycontin. While there has been no sign of her not taking them as directed or abuse, I am very concerned about her using them.  She has a very low pain tolerance and feels that she "needs" these meds for post operative pain. I recently read a WaPo article which said that even one course of opiates used for wisdom teeth extraction could result in abuse or addiction and that studies showed that tylenol and advil were more effective in reducing dental pain. So I called the oral surgeon office ahead of her appointment to voice my concern and asked if they might make the argument to her when we came in about using the analgesics instead of narcotics. The person I spoke to said their office had seen the same article, and while their office still regularly prescribed the narcotics, there were some oral surgeons that wouldn't.  They said would make a note in her file. 

    During the appointment they asked her about narcotics and she said that Oxy worked for her.  So I brought up the info in the article and everyone listened, and while my daughter said she might be willing to try just the analgesics, she then again said she had a low pain tolerance.

    Is it fair of me to feel that just because of the risk of addiction and with so many previous surgeries having used opiates, that maybe it is not worth the risk and that she should endure a couple days of pain to avoid some possible long term negative outcome?  Does anyone have any previous experience, advice or perspective on how to deal with this situation?  Part of me thinks I shouldn't worry so much, but I'd hate to find out a year from now that I have a kid addicted to opiates after all of these surgeries because the medical professionals were reluctant to change their practices in light of the info?

    [Moderator Note] a similar question was asked last year. See "Norco prescription for wisdom teeth?" https://www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org/advice/health/wisdomteeth

    I agree that this is a serious issue. My young adult daughter and I have both been offered narcotics for pain following medical procedures and we both have never accepted, opting for advil, pain, and rest instead. Since your daughter has already said she wants the Oxy, my advice is to try make sure she gets only enough for two days, and go with advil after that.

    It’s true that millions of people became addicted to opiates because of wildly inappropriate prescribing. However, I worry the baby’s in danger of being thrown out w the bath water these days! They are so effective against pain that I believe there is a place for them, with a limited number of pills and caution. I’ve taken opiates many times during my life and am thankful for them and never became addicted.

    I am appalled that in this day and age, "respected" oral surgeons remain so nonchalant about routinely prescribing opioids. Last year, my son (in his early 20s) had a slightly impacted wisdom tooth pulled.  Even though the procedure was a simple "pull out" extraction (not surgery; no actual cutting), there was no discussion about options for appropriate pain relief.  He was given their standard default Rx - antibiotics prophylactically for a few days, and narcotic pain relief.  I brought up the article(s) you mentioned, and asked about about possibly using alternating ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead, saving the narcotics RX unless absolutely needed, and was basically told we could "try that if we want."  No recognition of the evidence, no recognition of the risk of addition, (especially higher risk young men; he wasn't even asked about history), or anything.  Not even an awareness or recommended protocol for the analgesics. In the end, he took a  dose of each of the two non-narcotics once, took one more Advil at bedtime "just in case," and that was it.  The assumption that he would definitely NEED high-powered narcotics (which evidence actually is now showing are generally NOT better for this kind of pain) was, I thought, just completely unethical  I keep meaning to write them about it, but still haven't made myself do it.  Maybe after this, I will.  

    I have had some pretty major surgeries (oral and body) and after observing my sister become addicted to opioids (for many years in pill form but now combining with marijuana and sometimes mixing with alcohol - and also with antidepressants), I am afraid of any painkillers. My husband is a physician who basically makes a salary from prescribing them (don’t worry, he almost never prescribes them so his monthly pay makes it hard to afford rent); he’s extremely fearful of perpetuating a big problem in our country. In his words, “3-7 days of painkillers after a surgery...then start weaning.” And, “when you hit your deathbed, that’s a better time to hit the meds hard if you desire.” There’s a major distinction between the two but we often don’t see it. I’ve had six major surgeries and bad accident and have taken three days of Vicodin and I’m done. I was also encouraged by my husband to take the medications for proper pain management. The difference in my situation - he, a medical doctor, guided me every step of the way, and did so in a way he could never do with patients. There’s a fine line and we have haven’t been made aware of the nuances.

    I would say if/when this comes up with our kids, I am going to prep them (they’ve seen plenty of the destruction in SF with those taking to the streets as a result of their addiction or not managed mental health, many of whom take refuge in seeking out drugs as an understandable escape). We talk to our children  about how human beings get there (addiction is likely do to unresolved trauma and a longing for connection). Constant dopamine hits (technology, sugar, social media, alcohol, etc are the fuel for dopamine) are destructive and make it harder to deal with the root causes of our issues. We tell our kids we ALL have issues so they know we are all susceptible and not alone. Once their teenage brains reject this (our eldest is 11), we will tell them that drugs are so amazing (not bad) that they hijack your brain: “Do you want this to happen?” is what we will ask. Then, help them immediately get off of crutches, whether real crutches or other crutches given to us in life that are intended for situational help. That’s how we view painkillers -  for the use pain for a period of time. Not for a lifetime. I’m going out on a limb here and I will say that anyone who is on medications that work on the same receptors as opioids are going to have a harder time (meaning longer but not impossible at all) kicking the habit. Opioids are known to be amazing, which is why many can’t imagine living without them. There’s no sense in demonizing them. Like a car that has the ability to hurt someone, when used right, it can is from point A to point B, but we are always taking a risk behind the wheel & trusting other drivers. When we enable use of something as powerful as many kinds of drugs, we might be handing our loved ones and friends a lifetime of misery or even death. 

     I would say that this is a good time to be concerned but also understanding of your daughter (which you seem to be) and where she is. You are her guide and she will make decisions. I think our job as parents to provide our kids with the information we have. 

    Depending on how complicated the teeth extraction will be (for example are they impacted?), the pain may not be as bad as she fears, even with low pain tolerance.  My middle school age child had to have wisdom teeth removed.   Prescription acetaminophen was all we got, it seemed to work fine, and the pain went down within two days.   Has your daughter ever used high dose tylenol or advil? (dose as prescribed by doctor).  It may work much much better than she expects!

    I alternated tylenol and advil for a few days, and although it didn't take away all the pain, it was enough. 

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  • Norco prescription for wisdom teeth?

    (5 replies)

    Given the national opioid crisis, I was shocked that my 17 year old came home from the consult with the oral surgeon for his wisdom teeth removal with a prescription for 20 pills of Norco 5/325 (along with a prescription for ibuprofen 600 mg).  My RN sister says "Norco is hydrocodone and acetaminophen, hydrocodone is a lot stronger than codeine" - it's a Schedule II drug that has to be written on special prescription pads to deter copying/misuse.

    I had my wisdom teeth out later in life and took one dose of the stronger pain medicine then was fine with ibuprofen after that.  I asked around and other teens seem to have had the same experience lately - prescribed 20 norco pills, took 2 or 4 max.  Does this match your experience?

    I am not concerned about my teen misusing this opioid, but instead I'm concerned about it falling into the hands of others who may intentionally abuse it or inadvertently be harmed. I'm shocked the oral surgeon would prescribe so many more than are likely to be needed given the situation we're in with opioids and the potential for abuse in this age group.  I plan to call the office and voice my concern, but was curious to hear what others think, both about how many pills of norco are typical to need after wisdom teeth removal, and about the risks of over prescribing.

    My pediatrician sister and my RN sister both suggest not filling the norco and just going with ibuprofen, holding the norco "just in case"  - which is exactly the opposite of what the surgeon instructed ("fill it before you come to the procedure").  The other option I'm considering is having the pharmacist just fill it for 2 or maybe 4 pills, so there are less lying around after.  Even aside from abuse, it's a pain to dispose of schedule II drugs properly.  You would think oral surgeons would be helping us out here by not over prescribing, right? Apparently not...

    The surgeon prescribes the Norco because some patients really do need it.  It’s almost impossible to know in advance who will need Norco and who will be fine with ibuprofen only.   My husband didn’t need anything stronger than ibuprofen when he had his wisdom teeth removed, but I needed the whole prescription.  My son needed all of his Codein after having his adenoids removed.

    The WHO considers pain relief to be a human right.   If a doctor doesn’t prescribe effective pain management, they can be successfully sued.  My pediatrician told me a case about a Marin oncologist that was successfully sued by the family members of a patient that was in extreme pain even though the patient was receiving the maximum amount of pain relievers due to tightened criteria to prevent abuse (but still well below max doses of the medication that would cause respiratory failure).  Mandating maximum dosages of pain medication puts doctors in a very difficult position, as it means that they can’t treat individuals with varying levels of pain effectively.  Providing adequate pain relief is a main tenet of medicine.

    The advice from your family members in the medical profession is curious.  If one waits to take analgesics or pain meds until the pain gets bad, then it takes a lot more pain medication to get the pain under control.  The medical community regularly advises not to wait until pain becomes severe to take pain medication.  Pain is easier to control when it is mild.  This is why a doctor will provide a pain medication script before surgery, as it will allow a patient to have access to pain medication quickly if it is needed.  

    It is your choice whether to fill the prescription in advance or whether to fill it for a lower amount of pills.  Your medical professional family members probably don’t have any issue filling prescriptions quickly, and wouldn’t see a downside to filling the prescription at a moment’s notice.  Personally, I have had to wait 2-3 days to get schedule 2 drugs filled for my son because the drugstores don’t keep a lot of the medications on hand in the store and have to order the pills from a distribution center.  I fill prescriptions in advance now, because of the potential for delays.

    If you are concerned about how to dispose of unused Narco, then call the surgeon to see if they will dispose of the unused pills or talk to the pharmacy.

    Calling the surgeon to complain about the prescription for pain medication is completely inappropriate.  Take care of your own business, and don’t try to tell others what they do or don’t need.  You have no idea of what other people need.

    Hi, there. My then 16 year old had her wisdom teeth (all 4, impacted, and really wedged in there) extracted last Spring. They prescribed Norco for her: 24 tablets. Having had two of my own wisdom teeth (fully emerged, and worn out) extracted as an adult, with no need of any drugs, I was expecting her to have a similar experience. I filled the prescription just in case. Here was our experience: she was in real pain for most of the week. She requested, and I gave her, the Norco. Your query caused me to go and count the remaining pills which I have stashed in a safe spot; she used 14 out of the 24. It turns out there's a reason why they prescribe it; that my experience was completely different from hers. I recommend that you fill the prescription, administer the pills yourself, writing down the times you've given them, and think about a very safe stash place for any leftovers. You could also request a smaller amount, but I'd say ask for at least a dozen.

    Our daughter, also 17, had all 4 of her wisdom teeth taken out in a single surgery.  She was only prescribed iboprophen (600mg) -- no Norco.  She was in a lot of pain, even though she is very tough.  We called the doctor's office over the weekend she was in so much pain.  By the way, days 3 and 4 are often the worse for pain (not days 1 and 2) for wisdom teeth removal, which we found out on that weekend phone call.  If they had prescribed Norco pills, they would have been helpful on days 3 and 4.  Daughter was in pain for almost a week.  

    For other folks wisdom teeth removal has been more routine (including me), so the need for pain killers took my by surprise.  But having all 4 done at once and the way the teeth were variously positioned made it a significantly worse.  I can see a surgeon going either way with the Norco.

    Ordering a few Norco pills as an option, and controlling their storage and use as a parent, seems fine to us.  In fact, my partner has a stronger Norco precription (7/325) for chronic pain and uses it a few times a month as needed for severe pain -- for years now.  No increase in use, no addictive behaviors.  Taking Norco pills 1-2x after a surgical procedure isn't going to cause an addiction or a dealer to blossom.  (Don't get me started on oxycotin though...)

    He'll be ok whatever you decide, and good luck to both of you!

    I have been prescribed opioids after the five or six surgeries I've had, and seldom use more than a couple of pills. I had many old bottles in the bathroom, dating back to the C-section births of my kids. My kids are teenagers now, and my son may be getting his wisdom teeth removed soon. I recently got rid of my old pills because someone with experience in the field of addiction gave me this information. He said that teens who come over as visitors to your home may look through the medicine cabinet and help themselves. Your idea of getting the prescription filled for a smaller number of pills sounds great. 

    I know of two teenagers who have died as a result of prescriptions stored in the home medicine cabinet. One used his own leftover pain meds from wisdom tooth removal to commit suicide. The other one experimented with his parents meds and overdosed. Those pain medications are dangerous. Lock them up. Or take them to a disposal center. Do not flush, it harms the bay. 

    List of Disposal SitesAlameda

    Alameda Police Station
    (accepts controlled substances)
    1555 Oak Street
    Mon-Sun, 8am-8pm

    Albany

    Albany Senior Center
    846 Masonic Avenue
    Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm

    Berkeley

    Berkeley Transfer Station
    1201 2nd Street
    Mon-Sat, 8am-4:30pm

    UC Berkeley Tang Center Pharmacy
    (accepts controlled substances)
    2222 Bancroft Way
    Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm

    United Pharmacy
    2929 Telegraph Avenue
    Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm; Sat, 9am-2pm

     Emeryville

    Emeryville Senior Center
    4321 Salem Street
    Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm

    Oakland

    Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste*
    2100 E. 7th Street at 23rd Avenue
    Wed-Fri, 9am-2:30pm
    Sat, 9am-4pm
    Closed Thanksgiving week and December 24-31
    *Alameda County residents only. 

    EBMUD Administration Building Lobby
    375 11th Street at Franklin Street
    Mon-Fri, 8am-4:30pm, except EBMUD holidays

    Elihu Harris State Building Lobby
    1515 Clay Street
    Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm, except state holidays

    Oakland Fire Department
    1401 98th Avenue at International Blvd, or
    1445 14th Street at Mandela Parkway
    Everyday 8am-8pm (ring the doorbell)

    More info here: http://www.ebmud.com/wastewater/bay-friendly-waste-disposal/medicine-dis...

    New replies are no longer being accepted.
  • Wisdom teeth removal? Or not?

    (7 replies)

    My 16 year old's dentist is recommending we have her wisdom teeth removed "because we do it a lot earlier these days, before the root system gets connected with the nerves and becomes a much more involved procedure".  They have not even erupted through the gums yet.  I had mine removed at 26, with no problem, and only because my dentist kept insisting it was the right thing to do.  They weren't bothering me.  Is this what most people do these days?  Remove 4 large teeth "because that's how it's done these days", even though they are not bothering her, and not even actually grown in yet??

    RE: Wisdom teeth removal? Or not? ()

    My daughter had all four removed when she is 13 or 14 due to orthodontist recommendations. They were under the gums as well.  Easy procedure; 20 ".  Done on Friday; back to school on Monday.

    RE: Wisdom teeth removal? Or not? ()

    Hi, we had the same question last year with my (then) 16 year old son. Pediatric dentist said they needed to come out, we visited the oral surgeon who concurred, but when I asked why they needed to come out (they were not impacted, and appeared on x-ray to be coming in fine), the answer was vague and unconvincing. "They could get decay later," I was told. Well, that's true of ALL teeth, and no reason to pull them.  I spoke with a friend who is a dental specialist from Germany, who looked at the x-ray and reassured me the teeth looked fine. She said it is rare in Germany to take out wisdom teeth unless, and until, they present a problem. She said that  if removal is necessary later, it would be a little more difficult than doing it when teeth are less than fully formed. Whatever. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it!

    -- No problems so far

    RE: Wisdom teeth removal? Or not? ()

    I think it's kind of a racket!! Not that wisdom teeth don't create problems, but I really don't think that's the norm.

    At 63, I still have 2 wisdom teeth up in my jaw that never came down, and 2 that came down that I use due to other teeth being pulled.

    My older son had 2 of his pulled because they were growing sideways.
    It was recommended that my 21 yo son have his pulled "because it's what we do". I decided NO.

    I'd wait till there's a good reason. Save your money and trauma to your child.

    RE: Wisdom teeth removal? Or not? ()

    I never had my wisdom teeth out - there has always been room for them, although they did shift my teeth (after years of braces!), but mainly because I was not wearing any guards to keep my teeth straight as they were coming in (I was in college at the time and had other things to worry about). If it were my kid I would wait, but I'm no fan of any unnecessary surgery 'just because that's how we do it'  - my kids dentist wants to take xrays every 6 months for the same reason and we just say no. Ultimately you are the parent and get to decide what's best for your kid - every surgery has inherent risks, and if there is no current risk in keeping them, why take them out? IMHO

    RE: Wisdom teeth removal? Or not? ()

    I looked into this question for myself (adult) a few years ago when my father (now 70) had his 4 wisdom teeth pulled. He had room for them but they had decayed; wisdom teeth are more susceptible to decay because they are hard to reach in the far back of the mouth. It was a horrible recovery for him--much longer/more painful/grueling than it seemed to be for my friends who got them out as 20-year-olds. My dad thought it was because older bodies don't heal as quickly, but maybe it is the root involvement as your dentist says, or maybe both, I don't know. I wanted to know if I should get my wisdom teeth out now (in my 30s) instead of waiting until my 60s if decay was inevitable. My dentist said mine were in good shape (and I have room and they came in properly) and did not recommend removal. He said I should stick with my electric toothbrush (the vibrating kind with a small head that can reach way back) and to floss all sides of them and they should be fine if I can stay diligent. (Avoiding sugary drinks, etc, also helps, of course.) I should say that I seem to have won the genetic lottery for teeth, since mine seem to be very cavity-resistant (first cavity at age 30), so you might assess how prone to decay your child's teeth are in making your decision (my daughter already has 3 cavities at age 7!). 

    good luck!

    RE: Wisdom teeth removal? Or not? ()

    Hi. I didn't have my wisdom teeth removed as they weren't impacted. My teeth were straight, I never wore braces. Over time, my teeth grew more and more crooked and slightly rotated from the overcrowding my jaw couldn't accommodate. 

    I come from a family w/gum issues and the overcrowding made it more difficult to keep my teeth clean. This coupled w/two pregnancies and the additional bacteria our mouths produce  during pregnancy, were significant factors in my losing two teeth. 

    I chose to have implants which are expensive, time consuming, and not fun. 

    I agree that it's best to avoid surgery whenever possible! Given my family predisposition and my small mouth, I wish we had pulled my wisdom back in high school. 

    So there can be consequences if we keep these teeth. For me it took years to learn what they were for me. 

    RE: Wisdom teeth removal? Or not? ()

    So I am going to be the outlier here - I'm in my mid-40s and back in my day they didn't seem to push for removal (I had 2 impacted and 2 that came down) - well,  I formed a cyst on one of the impacted ones when I was 41 (OMG was that painful) and had to have it removed.  At that point there is so much old bone around the tooth, it was a major procedure, incredibly painful, and caused me to lose feeling in my chin (basically the right half of my chin has permanent pins and needles).  If they look like they will be impacted, my kids will be having theirs pulled when they are teenagers.

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions  

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