Wisdom tooth removal: What to expect
If you are experiencing pain caused by your wisdom teeth, your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal surgery. Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a common dental procedure. However, it’s natural to have questions about what to expect before, during and after your surgery.
Why should you get your wisdom tooth removed?
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars at the back of the mouth. They are the last teeth to erupt and usually come in during your late teens and early to mid-twenties. Because these teeth emerge later in life, there isn’t always room in the mouth for wisdom teeth to fit comfortably. Wisdom teeth removal is generally easier when performed on younger patients.
A dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal surgery if your wisdom teeth are:
Impacted: A wisdom tooth that erupts partially or emerges at an angle is referred to as ‘impacted.’ Impacted teeth can cause problems for your overall oral health. They are sometimes painful, are often hard to clean behind, and can push up against other molars, causing your teeth to move slowly over time.
Sitting at an angle: If your wisdom teeth come in at an angle, they can cause damage to neighbouring teeth. Angled wisdom teeth can cause the enamel to chip away on your secondary molars. This can lead to an increase in cavities and tooth decay.
Overcrowded: There often isn’t enough room for wisdom teeth to fit comfortably next to other teeth in the mouth. As your wisdom teeth emerge, they sometimes push other teeth out of alignment. Removing your wisdom teeth can help avoid the need for braces or orthodontics later in life.
Hard to clean: Because wisdom teeth are located at the very back of the mouth, they are often difficult to brush or floss behind. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a buildup of food, plaque and bacteria behind the wisdom teeth and lead to cavities and tooth decay. Removing wisdom teeth that are hard to clean can improve your overall oral health.
What should you expect before wisdom tooth removal surgery?
If a wisdom tooth is causing problems, book a consultation appointment with the team at Gentle Dental. During your dental examination, your dentist will assess your teeth with an oral exam and a full jaw x-ray. For more complex wisdom teeth removal, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon.
For general wisdom tooth extraction, surgery takes place in one of our Wellington dental clinics. Your dentist will ask about any health problems you may have, list any drugs or medication you regularly take and discuss any initial questions you may have about the procedure. They can then book you in for wisdom teeth removal surgery at a time convenient to you.
During your initial consultation, they will also discuss options for anesthesia or sedation. Your dentist will usually use one of the following options:
Local Anesthesia: Your dentist may opt for local anesthesia via an injection near the site of each tooth that needs extraction. They may also use a numbing agent to prevent you from feeling the injection going in. Under local anesthesia, you will be awake. However, you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. You may feel some pressure and movement within your mouth during surgery.
IV or Oral Sedation: Sedation is delivered through an IV arm drip, or a liquid taken prior to the surgery. Under sedation you will feel drowsy yet responsive. Most patients have little memory of the procedure until after the sedation wears off.
General Anesthesia: General anesthesia usually involves gas inhalation or intravenous forms of sedation. Under general anesthesia, you will lose consciousness and won’t have any memory of the procedure. Your vital signs are monitored during the extraction surgery to ensure that the anesthetic has been administered safely.
What should you expect during wisdom teeth surgery?
At Gentle Dental, we can perform most wisdom teeth surgery in-house. Occasionally, for very impacted teeth, patients may be referred to a specialist dental surgeon.
Wisdom teeth surgery can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes. The complexity of the procedure depends on the position of your wisdom teeth. If the wisdom teeth have not emerged through the gum, a small incision is made, so the dentist can access the tooth. In some cases, the tooth is broken into parts to make it easier to remove. Sometimes, the dentist will have to cut the bone to remove the tooth. After the tooth is removed, the wound is stitched shut and the mouth padded with gauze to soak up the bleeding.
Wisdom tooth surgery takes around an hour. After surgery, you’ll be taken to a comfortable room until the sedation or anesthesia has worn off. Once you’re awake, we’ll call your emergency contact to pick you up and take you home. In the hours following surgery, you will be unable to drive or return to work. We recommend taking a few days off after your surgery to recover.
What should you expect after wisdom teeth surgery?
It can take two weeks to fully recover after wisdom teeth removal surgery. You’ll likely have two to three days of discomfort. During this time try to avoid working or intense exercise. During the days following surgery, you may experience:
Swelling of the mouth and cheeks
Bruising of the cheeks and extraction site
Stiffness and soreness in the jaw
Pain in the mouth
Tingling or numbness in the face, lips or tongue (although this is rare)
Most of these symptoms will wear off over time. Your dentist will provide guidance for surgery recovery. However, there are things you can do to make the recovery process more bearable.
Press a cold compress to the face to help remove swelling in the first 24 hours.
Take over-the-counter pain medications as directed
Avoid exercise or strenuous activity for the first few days
Avoid rinsing with water in the first 24 hours
Rinse with salt water every 3 hours after the first 24 hours
Eat liquids and soft foods for the first few days
Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol for the first days after surgery
If your wisdom teeth are causing you pain or discomfort or are difficult to keep clean, book a wisdom tooth consultation with the friendly team at Gentle Dental.