Should my son see an emergency dentist for his wisdom teeth?

I am concerned that my son needs to visit an emergency dentist. His wisdom teeth have been causing him a great deal of pain for the last several days. They are even preventing him from eating. I encouraged him to make an appointment with an emergency dentist, but he didn’t see the need, stating that it happens sometimes. He did let me take a quick glance. While I couldn’t see the tooth, I did notice the gums are swollen up around the tooth. He is convinced this is completely normal and the tooth just hasn’t pushed all the way through yet. Is this something you see often? Or, should I continue to encourage him to see an emergency dentist?

Thank you,

Dear Kristi,
Everyone is different. Some people have wisdom teeth break through later in life, while others never get them, or need them to be extracted. The most important piece to this is how the wisdom teeth come in and the amount of space around them. These teeth can cause problems because there is little room for them. They force other teeth out of the way and move everything. It is difficult to clean these teeth, not only because of the cramped space, but because the gums are still covering some of the wisdom teeth. Infections and tooth decay can occur when the gums lift up enough for food and bacteria to enter and become trapped.

Wisdom teeth can also cause pain in other, more typical, ways. Sometimes, when they push the surrounding teeth out of the way, that can cause those teeth to hurt, though sometimes the pain is just in one area. Yet other times, the pain stays in one area. They can also cause sinus, jaw, and ear pain. A general dentist would probably suggest the teeth be taken out. However, because you are noticing swollen gums, it could be a symptom of an infection. In addition, if the pain is so intense that it is preventing eating, there is certainly a problem. Both of these symptoms yield a reason to see an emergency dentist if he doesn’t have a general dentist who can see him very soon. If there is, in fact, an infection, it is crucial he be seen today.

This article is sponsored by Phoenix emergency dentist, Dr. Hillary Peck.

How to prepare for a child’s first dental appointment

We have scheduled our 5 year old son for his first dental visit. He is very shy and quite apprehensive to people he isn’t comfortable around. Are there are specific ways we can prepare him so he will not be afraid?

Thank you,

Dear Brooke,
It can definitely be stressful to take your child to the dentist for his or her first time. However, there are many things you can do to make the experience a fun and teachable one. The biggest thing to remember is that if you are stressed or anxious, he will feel that. Try not to say things like, “Don’t be afraid,” “It’s not scary,” or “It won’t hurt,” when you discuss the dental appointment. Be sure to remember that any negative dental experiences you have had are your experiences and not necessarily indicative of the type of experience he will have. Talk about the appointment like it is a natural thing for him to do, but show excitement about it being his first appointment, like you would his first haircut. It is a great idea to let him come along with you to one of your appointments, so he can become familiar with the office, the staff, and the routine. If this is not an option, or you are using a new office, call ahead to to find out what you can expect, or visit the office’s website, in order to talk with him about it. Read books about going to the dentist, or watch cartoons. You could also role play at home, first with you playing the dentist role, then switch and let your son be the dentist. But, again, the most important component in this is to build-up the experience as a positive one.

It is also a good idea to try to schedule a morning appointment, so he can be well-rested and have had a good breakfast beforehand. Be sure to arrive to your appointment somewhat early, to allow your son a chance to become used to the office. If, by chance, your office does not allow parents to accompany children to the exam room, you should be aware beforehand to decrease his anxiety about this. However, if you are able to go back, snap a photo of her being a good patient and cooperating.

Many offices give children toothbrushes and other goodies such as balloons or tokens when they are finished. If the dental office does not provide these, it’s a great idea to have a toothbrush and small toy or reward to give him at the end of the appointment. You just want to be sure to reinforce the good behavior.

Also, please remember, if the visit is not as positive as you hoped for, and practiced for, don’t fret. Many children take time to become comfortable to new places and things. It will be good to have already been in the office and provided the experience. Then, try again after a few months. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by the office of Phoenix pediatric dentist, Dr. Hillary Peck.