What to Expect from Your Wisdom Teeth Removal
If you are one of the approximately 5 million Americans who will have their wisdom teeth removed this year, you may be wondering what you can expect. While wisdom teeth extraction is a fairly standard procedure, you will want to be as prepared as possible. From why you may need the procedure to what you can do to make wisdom teeth removal as smooth as possible, here is everything you need to know.
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are often the last of your adult teeth to come in. For most people, wisdom teeth erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. They grow behind the second-to-last molars on each side of your mouth and are also called third molars.
Most people have four wisdom teeth, although it is possible to have fewer or more. In some cases, wisdom teeth do not erupt through the gums. While not all wisdom teeth will need to be extracted, there are some cases where wisdom tooth removal is necessary.
Why You May Need to Remove Your Wisdom Teeth
While some people have wisdom teeth that come in behind the existing molars with no problems, this is not always the case. When wisdom teeth do not have enough room to come in, or they come in at an awkward angle, they may cause several problems, including:
When wisdom teeth come in, they may push the other teeth in your mouth out of alignment, causing crowding. Crowding may lead to a number of dental problems, such as tooth decay, gum disease, and difficulty brushing and flossing correctly.
If your wisdom teeth are only partially emerged, they may leave an opening that is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This may cause wisdom teeth infections and lead to tooth pain. If you are experiencing wisdom tooth pain, removing them may be the best solution.
A dentigerous cyst is a fluid-filled sac that may cover the wisdom tooth as it is erupting. While most dentigerous cysts are generally harmless, they may damage the wisdom tooth, nearby teeth, or jawbone if left untreated. In some instances, a dentigerous cyst may cause your teeth to shift out of place.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
When a wisdom tooth is partially or fully trapped in the gums or jawbone, this is known as an impacted wisdom tooth. Impacted wisdom teeth may be very painful and may cause damage to the nearby teeth, gums, and jawbone. Your dentist will be able to determine if wisdom teeth removal is necessary by using an x-ray or other imaging tests.
How to Prepare for a Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Removing your wisdom teeth is almost always an outpatient procedure, which means you may go home the same day. Wisdom teeth removal is usually performed under local anesthesia, numbing the area around your wisdom teeth. In some cases, general anesthesia may be used.
Your wisdom teeth will be removed in your dentist’s or oral surgeon’s office. You will be provided with specific instructions on how to prepare yourself for wisdom teeth removal, which may include:
- Avoiding eating or drinking after the night before your procedure
- Arranging for someone to drive you home after the procedure
- Stopping certain medications or adjusting your doses
What Happens During Wisdom Teeth Removal?
On the day of the procedure, you will be given anesthesia to numb the area around your wisdom teeth. Three types of anesthesia may be used for wisdom teeth removal. The type that is used will depend on your individual situation and preferences. Options for anesthesia include:
Local anesthesia is administered through an injection near the wisdom teeth. This type of anesthesia numbs the area around your wisdom teeth and gums. You will be awake during the procedure, and although you may feel some pressure, you should not feel any pain.
This type of anesthesia is administered through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. Sedation anesthesia is used to suppress your level of consciousness and make you feel more relaxed during the procedure. As a result, you typically won’t feel pain and have limited memory of the procedure. Your gums may also be numbed using a local anesthetic.
If you are having multiple wisdom teeth removed or your wisdom teeth are impacted, you may be given general anesthesia. General anesthesia is administered through an IV line in your arm or through inhaling the anesthesia. You will be unconscious during the procedure and should not feel any pain. You will be closely monitored during the procedure and have no memory of the extraction when you wake up.
Once the anesthesia has taken effect, your wisdom teeth will be removed. The exact procedure will depend on the position of your wisdom teeth and how difficult they are to remove. However, generally, the wisdom teeth are removed in the following steps:
- An incision is made in the gums to expose the wisdom teeth.
- The bone around the wisdom teeth is then removed to gain access to the tooth’s root.
- The wisdom tooth is then extracted. Sometimes your wisdom tooth may need to be divided into sections to be removed.
- Once your wisdom teeth are removed, your dentist or oral surgeon will clean the area of any debris.
- Stitches may be used to close the incision site and promote healing but are not always necessary.
- Finally, gauze will be placed over the extraction sites to help control bleeding.
What Can I Expect After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Once the procedure is complete, you will be taken to a recovery area, where you will be closely monitored. You may feel numbness, pain, and swelling after the procedure, which is normal. Your dentist or oral surgeon will give you specific instructions on caring for your mouth and managing any pain or discomfort. As you recover from your wisdom tooth extraction, your surgeon will provide detailed instructions on:
For the first 24 hours, stick to eating soft food such as soup, yogurt, and applesauce. From there, slowly incorporate other soft foods back into your diet. Avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods as well as alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated, or hot beverages. Also, avoid using a straw for at least a week as this may dislodge the clot at the wisdom tooth extraction site and delay healing.
You can expect some soreness and pain after having your wisdom teeth removed. Over-the-counter acetaminophen may be taken to help manage the pain. Your dentist or oral surgeon may also prescribe stronger pain medication if needed. In addition, an ice pack may be used to help reduce pain and swelling.
After having your wisdom teeth extracted, it’s essential to take it easy for at least the first 24 hours. The next day you may be able to resume your normal activities, but strenuous activity should be avoided for at least one week.
Avoid brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, and rinsing your mouth for at least 24 hours after your wisdom teeth have been removed. You may resume your normal oral hygiene routine after 24 hours, but be gentle around the extraction sites.
These are just a few guidelines to help you prepare for and recover from wisdom teeth removal. Every patient is different, so be sure to follow the specific instructions provided by your dentist or oral surgeon.
Wisdom Tooth Removal at Abra Dental
Abra Dental is a state-of-the-art dental facility that offers a comprehensive range of dental services, including wisdom tooth removal. Our experienced doctors are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care and treatment in a warm and welcoming environment. To learn more about wisdom tooth removal or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.