Many students plan to have their wisdom teeth extracted during summer break, when they have a few days to recuperate from the procedure. Some people never develop wisdom teeth, or do not even notice when they erupt because it occurs cleanly without crowding out other teeth. However, wisdom teeth – which typically come in between the ages of 16 and 23 – usually need to be removed because they become impacted or block access to adjacent teeth.
Preparing for Wisdom Teeth Removal
Wisdom teeth are actually third molars. The name comes from the fact that they are the last teeth to come in before you become an adult. Your dentist will check them during your routine exams. If they are impacted or preventing access to other teeth, your dentist will recommend surgery. Other reasons why people have their wisdom teeth extracted include:
- Gum disease
After scheduling surgery, you can begin to prepare for the procedure:
Secure transportation. You will not be able to drive after the surgery, so make sure someone will be able to take you home.
Inquire about eating and drinking. Anesthesia may require an empty stomach. Find out whether you need to refrain from eating and drinking before the surgery. Sometimes the dentist will allow black coffee.
Ask about medication. Inform your dentist of any prescription and nonprescription medication you are currently taking. You may need to skip it the morning of the surgery.
What to Expect During Surgery
Your dentist will administer anesthesia before the procedure. There are several types of anesthesia available. Your dentist will choose the level of anesthesia necessary, based on your situation.
Local anesthesia: Patients feel some pressure and movement during the procedure with local anesthesia because they are awake. However, they should not experience any discomfort. Dentists administer local anesthesia via injection after numbing the gums.
Sedation anesthesia: Patients feel drowsy and relaxed during sedation anesthesia and may even fall asleep. They will still be able to respond to direction. Dentists give sedation anesthesia through an intravenous line (IV) in the arm.
General anesthesia: Patients are not conscious during general anesthesia. Therefore, their breathing, temperature and blood pressure must be closely monitored during the entire procedure. Patients inhale medication through the nose during general anesthesia.
During surgery, the dentist makes an incision in the gum to create flaps and expose the tooth and bone. If there is bone blocking access to the tooth, he will remove it first. Then he will divide the tooth into sections and remove them one at a time. After carefully cleaning the site, the dentist may need to add stitches to close it. Then he will apply gauze to the site to control the bleeding and promote clotting. It is very important to form a blood clot. It covers the site and helps the area to heal.
Recovering After Wisdom Teeth Extraction
The First 24 Hours: You will need to rest for the remainder of the day, but can usually resume normal activities the next morning. It takes about a week for the area to heal. During that time you want to avoid anything that may dislodge the blood clot, including strenuous activity and drinking from a straw. In the meantime, drink plenty of water and stick to soft foods such as gelatin, yogurt and applesauce. Don’t brush your teeth or rinse your mouth for 24 hours.
Pain Management: Your dentist will prescribe pain medication or recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever while you are recovering. Swelling and bruising typically improve in a couple of days. Try holding a cold pack against your jaw if your dentist recommends it. After 24 hours, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every few hours and after meals. It will also be soothing.
You should be back to normal in a few days. In most cases you do not need to see your dentist after surgery. Call your dentist right away if you notice any of the following:
- Severe pain several days after the procedure
- Dislodged blood clot
- Bad breath or foul odor
- Swollen lymph nodes
These are signs of a condition called dry socket. Your dentist will need to see you in order to flush the socket and pack it with medicated dressings. You should feel relief very soon after treatment. If you have additional questions about wisdom teeth removal, feel free to give us a call!
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_tooth#mediaviewer/File:Weisheitsz%C3%A4hne-1.jpg
Original Source: https://www.craigarmstrongdds.com/oral-surgery/wisdom-teeth-removal/