All About Wisdom Teeth Removal

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:

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
  • Fever

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!

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Dr. Armstrong Elected President of Texas Dental Association

We are excited to share that Dr. Craig S. Armstrong, DDS was recently elected President-elect of the Texas Dental Association (TDA). The announcement was made in May at The Texas Meeting – the Annual Session of the TDA. He will serve for one year, representing the TDA  to the American Dental Association (ADA). Dr. Armstrong is looking forward to having the opportunity to attend a number of events as President. He thanks Dr. Tommy Harrison of Katy, who nominated him for the role.

The TDA was chartered in 1871. It is currently the third largest state dental association in the country, with over 9,000 members. One of the most fulfilling aspects of the TDA is it’s involvement with charitable activities through the TDA Smiles Foundation:

Texas Mission of Mercy (TMOM): A mobile dental clinic that travels throughout Texas to provide basic dental care free of charge to uninsured residents. Individuals receive cleaning, fillings and extractions as part of TMOM’s focus on relieving pain. Dentists volunteer to staff the mobile dental clinic, performing examinations and determining the best course of treatment for each patient. TMOM-sponsored events have provided more than 29,000 patients with approximately $15 million in care.

Texas Donated Dental Services (TXDDS): Charity dental program developed by the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped in November 2000. Dentists and labs volunteer to participate by providing dentistry to uninsured individuals over the age of 62 or those with a permanent disability. The program is application-based. The TDA also provides community oral health education through the Smiles Foundation.

Give Kids a Smile: The ADA started the program in 2003 as a one-day February event to give underserved children access to dental services. The event was so successful it became a local, then national program with year-round events. Dentists, staff members, and other volunteers donate time and services, including screenings and treatments, to educate kids in the U.S. about oral health care. The program’s goal is now to eliminate cavities in 5-year-old children in the U.S. by 2020.

Cavity Free Corral: An education program that teaches proper nutrition and oral hygiene habits to Texans, made possible by a generous grant from the United Way of Texas.

Fluoride Fest: An interactive event for kids in Texas communities. Children visit five learning stations to receive exams, healthy snacks, fluoridated water and nutritional counseling. Dental workers identify children in need of free dental sealants, which are applied on site.

Dr. Craig S. Armstrong, DDS is a general and cosmetic dentist. He is a graduate of the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston and has served the Houston community for over 24 years. Dr. Armstrong is past President of the Greater Houston Dental Society, and is very excited about the opportunity to lead a wonderful organization like the TDA in the coming year.

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