Wisdom teeth extraction is a common procedure that most patients undergo in their late teens or young adult years. Having wisdom teeth removed in late adolescence or early adulthood can help prevent potential oral health problems later in life. Although it is a necessary procedure for many patients, some may worry about getting these teeth removed. We’d like to answer some frequently asked questions our patients have about wisdom teeth removal and what you can expect.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, or the third molars, usually begin to emerge between 17 and 25 years of age, at a time when you are considered more wise than in childhood, hence the nickname “wisdom teeth”. Unfortunately, they often grow in crooked or become impacted (meaning they cannot emerge through the gums properly), contributing to shifting of teeth, overcrowding, decay, infection, and pain. After evaluation of a panoramic X-ray and visual examination of a patient’s mouth, dentists commonly recommend removal of the wisdom teeth to keep the other teeth healthy. However, some patients do not need them removed, either because they have a large enough mouth, the wisdom teeth grow in straight, or they do not even have them (in fact, it’s possible to have anywhere from zero to four wisdom teeth!).
How Is Wisdom Teeth Extraction Performed?
When you come in for your surgery, we’ll begin by numbing the area where the teeth will be removed with a local anesthetic. Usually, patients opt to receive dental sedation that puts them into a relaxed sleep. You will feel virtually no pain during the procedure and it will seem to go by very fast. To remove your teeth, we will separate the tissues connecting the bone to the tooth and then extract the teeth. Often, patients need stitches and gauze on the affected area. Keep in mind that you’ll need assistance getting home safely after surgery due to the residual effects of sedation.
What Can I Expect After Surgery?
Although you will feel no pain during surgery, the area will be sore for a few days following. You’ll need to take painkillers as prescribed, get ample rest, drink plenty of water, and eat soft foods like mashed sweet potatoes, avocado, yogurt, pureed soups, and applesauce. Avoid drinking from straws or smoking cigarettes as you recover, since these activities can dislodge your blood clots and result in painful dry sockets. Keep the extraction sites clean by gently rinsing with warm water (do not vigorously swish, rinse, or spit). Additionally, avoid touching the wound with your tongue or fingers following surgery. Following these key details, in conjunction with any other home care instructions we give you at your appointment, will promote a smooth recovery!
What Complications Should I Watch Out For?
Call us if you experience bleeding beyond 24 hours, pus, extreme swelling, a fever, or increasing pain! One of the most common complications of wisdom teeth extraction is dry sockets. This is when the blood clot over the extraction site becomes dislodged, leaving the area vulnerable to discomfort and infection. Sucking through straws or smoking can lead to dry sockets, so please avoid doing these activities until you are healed.
More Questions? We Have Answers!
We hope we’ve answered your most pressing questions regarding wisdom teeth removal. But if we haven’t, feel free to call our office at any time to discuss your concerns.Contact Us