You may have seen it on the Internet — people saying and doing silly things as they reel from the side effects of wisdom tooth extraction. It’s funny but may also leave you wondering if you also need your wisdom teeth removed. In Canada alone, it is estimated that 22% to 66% of the population may need an extraction.
If your wisdom teeth aren’t affecting you, wisdom tooth extraction isn’t likely to be high on your priority list. But, there are instances when people’s jaws are too small to accommodate wisdom teeth without causing their other teeth to shift. This can result in a range of issues.
Depending on how they are positioned, your wisdom teeth may pose problems for you and your mouth in the future if you leave them in. If your dentist has recommended that you undergo a wisdom teeth removal procedure, here are some things you need to know.
Why Is Wisdom Tooth Extraction Necessary?
First things first, you may not even have wisdom teeth. Your wisdom teeth are similar to your appendix — they’re there, but you can live a perfectly healthy life without them. Wisdom teeth are considered vestigial organs; as a result, not everyone develops them. However, if you do, these four teeth—two on top and two on the bottom—will be the last adult teeth to erupt in your mouth. They normally appear between the ages of 17 and 21.
At times, wisdom teeth can become impacted when they grow into a space where there isn’t enough room. This may cause you to develop wisdom tooth infection, pain, or tooth or bone damage.
This can occur if your wisdom tooth:
- Grow at an angle toward the next molar
- Grow at an angle to the back of the mouth
- Grow flat on their side
- Grow straight up but are trapped within the jawbone
Even if impacted teeth aren’t creating difficulties now, some dentists and oral surgeons advocate wisdom tooth extraction to avoid future complications.
When Do You Need Your Wisdom Tooth Removed?
Wisdom teeth removal may be required if you suffer any of the following conditions:
This is the first and foremost reason that you may need to have your wisdom teeth removed. If you feel pain, sensitivity, or a faint throbbing sensation when eating, brushing your teeth, or even while doing nothing, you may need to arrange an appointment with your dentist to get your wisdom teeth checked.
- Damage to other teeth
The jaw is often too small to accommodate the third set of molar teeth. As a result, they rub against each other and develop sideways. Wisdom teeth that are crooked or misplaced might cause other teeth to shift. They may also damage neighbouring teeth, resulting in mouth pain and bite issues.
- Jaw Issues
When wisdom teeth erupt incorrectly, they might affect your bite. This can be uncomfortable and cause stiffness, making it difficult to open and close your mouth. Your jaw may also swell when wisdom teeth are attempting to erupt. It’s critical that you address this condition as soon as possible because incorrectly positioned teeth might create major problems.
- Fluid-filled sacs (cysts)
If your wisdom teeth are overlooked, cysts, or fluid sacs, may grow in your mouth. If left untreated, these cysts can cause substantial harm to your jaw, teeth, and nerves.
- Tooth Decay
The position of your wisdom teeth might have a big impact on bacteria-infested cleaning surfaces. If bacteria proliferate in the irritated gum pockets, they can stimulate the formation of cavities, which can lead to illness.
- Bad Breath
Cleaning the delicate gum tissue around misplaced or impacted wisdom teeth is difficult, resulting in retained food and bacterial plaque, which can lead to infection over time. Sulphur compounds are released by the bacteria as a result of this, which can leave your mouth with an unpleasant taste and give you bad breath.
What to Expect During Removal
Wisdom tooth extraction is the surgical removal of one or more wisdom teeth. When it comes to wisdom teeth removal, you can never be too prepared. Preparing ahead of time might also help calm any concerns you may have about having them extracted. If your dentist recommends getting wisdom teeth removed, here’s what you need to expect before, during, and after the procedure.
- Schedule An Appointment
The examination is the first step in the process. Whether or not you’re in discomfort, your dentist will likely want to take an X-ray to check what’s going on with your wisdom teeth, specifically how they’re positioned and how much room they have to grow.
Also, be sure to tell your doctor about any pre-existing medical conditions you may have as well as any medications you’re taking. Either of these factors could influence how your surgeon removes your wisdom teeth.
- Ask Questions
This is an excellent opportunity to ask your oral surgeon detailed questions about your surgery. Here are some questions to bring up with your surgeon:
- How many teeth will you be removing?
- When do I need to arrive at the clinic?
- How long is the procedure?
- Is it necessary to fast before the procedure?
- Is it okay to take my prescribed meds before the surgery?
- Finalize Your Schedule
Start planning your schedule weeks leading up to your procedure. Plan an easy day the day before your surgery. Then, for the next 1-2 days after your procedure, clear your schedule. The anaesthesia may take up to 24 hours to wear off completely, and you may experience some pain afterwards. For at least a week, avoid any vigorous activities. Give yourself enough time to rest and recover.
- Make Transportation Arrangements
Finding someone to drive you home from the clinic is important. You may feel disoriented from the anaesthesia after a wisdom tooth extraction, and it will be unsafe for you to drive. Make arrangements for a friend or family member to transport you home.
- Prepare Medications and Soft Food
If you know your oral surgeon is going to prescribe you pain medication, ask if they can do so before the surgery. You won’t have to pick up the medication when you’re still drowsy from the appointment. It’s also a good idea to stock up on generic pain relievers like ibuprofen in case you forget to take your prescription.
It is also recommended that you stock up on soft foods, such as mashed potatoes, yogurt, and smoothies before your surgery. Avoid crunchy foods that need extra chewing in the weeks following your operation. Small items, such as seeds or rice, should be avoided since they can easily get stuck in the gaps where your wisdom teeth used to be.
Your operation should take no more than 45 minutes. Depending on the predicted complexity of the wisdom teeth extraction and your level of comfort, your dentist or oral surgeon may employ one of three types of anaesthetic:
- Local – Local anaesthetics such as novocaine, lidocaine, or mepivacaine will be used by your doctor to numb your mouth. You can also take nitrous oxide, popularly known as laughing gas, to help you relax or perhaps sleep during your procedure. Shortly after that, you should feel more alert.
- IV Sedation – An intravenous (IV) line in your arm is used by your dentist or oral surgeon to administer sedation anaesthetic. During the surgery, sedation anaesthetic keeps you unconscious. You won’t be in any pain, and your recall of the process will be minimal. Your gums will also be numbed with a local anaesthetic.
- General – You may be given general anaesthesia in certain circumstances. The dentist may attach an IV line to your arm or make you inhale medication, which will make you lose consciousness. You won’t feel any discomfort and won’t remember anything about the process.
Once your ability to feel pain has been suppressed, your doctor will cut your gums or bone to remove the teeth. If that’s the case, the wounds will be stitched shut. After a few days, the stitches normally dissolve. Gauze pads may be placed in your mouth to absorb some of the blood.
The effects of anaesthesia varies from person to person. After the procedure, you’ll be brought to a recovery room if you’ve had sedation or general anaesthetic. If you receive a local anaesthetic, your recovery from wisdom tooth extraction may be faster.
Most patients feel little to no pain after the surgery. For the next few days, you’ll most likely experience swelling and some discomfort. And, it may take a few more weeks before your mouth fully heals.
It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions to aid your recovery. Here are some things to remember for your wisdom tooth extraction aftercare.
Do not attempt to drive for 24 hours after your treatment if you have been sedated. You may also be unable to drive if you are taking certain pain relievers. Be sure to check with your doctor.
There may be some bleeding following the procedure. Avoid frequent spitting so you don’t dislodge the blood clot from the socket. Follow your dentist or oral surgeon’s advice on the replacement of gauze over the extraction site.
- MedicationAn over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or Tylenol, or a prescription pain reliever from your dentist or oral surgeon may help you manage your discomfort. If bone has been removed during the treatment, you may need to take prescription pain medication. A cold pack against your jaw can also help to ease the pain.
Antibiotic mouthwash or antibiotic medicine may also be recommended. To avoid infection, make sure to take the prescription exactly as directed until the entire course of antibiotics has been completed. If you get negative side effects such as a rash, you should stop taking the drug and consult your dentist.
- Swelling and Bruising
Apply an ice pack as advised by your dentist or surgeon. The swelling in your cheeks normally goes away after 2 or 3 days. Meanwhile, bruising could take several days to heal.
- Food and Beverage
For the first 24 hours, eat only soft foods like yogurt or applesauce. Hard, chewy, hot, or spicy foods should be avoided since they can get lodged in the socket and irritate the wound. You can start eating semi-soft foods only when you are already able to tolerate them. If you’re eating with a spoon, don’t slurp too hard. Doing so may dislodge a blood clot or the stitches.
Drink plenty of water — at least eight glasses a day. Avoid alcoholic, carbonated, and caffeinated beverages for now. Also, avoid using straws as they can dislodge a blood clot and harm stitches in the same way slurping would.
- Physical Activity
Rest immediately after surgery. You can resume normal activities the day after, but you should still avoid vigorous exercise since aching and bleeding may occur, affecting your operation site. Refrain from exercising for at least 3 days after surgery. When you feel ready to get out of bed, remember to take it slow.
- Tobacco Use
If you smoke, refrain from doing so for at least 72 hours after surgery, and preferably longer. If you chew tobacco, wait at least a week before using it again. Using tobacco products after oral surgery might delay the healing process and cause a variety of problems.
- Oral Hygiene
You can remove the gauze pad placed over the extraction site 30 minutes after you left the clinic.
Avoid brushing your teeth for the first 24 hours following. Instead, use a saltwater rinse after meals to ensure that no food particles become trapped in the operated region. Spitting can obstruct healing, so just lean over the sink and let the water run out after each rinse.
When you do resume brushing your teeth, be especially cautious around the operation site and rinse softly. In fact, for at least 72 hours, refrain from excessive gargling. Your doctor may also provide you with an irrigation syringe. Use it as advised.
Your stitches may dissolve in a few weeks or that you won’t have any stitches at all. Make an appointment to have your stitches removed if they need to be removed.
Also, while your curiosity is understandable, resist the impulse to poke the operation site with your fingers or tongue. The healing of the wisdom tooth extraction site may be hampered as a result of this.
- Is a wisdom tooth extraction painful?
Because the area around your wisdom teeth will be numb, you should not experience any pain during the procedure. However, if you experience pain during the treatment, inform your dentist or oral surgeon so that more anaesthetic can be administered.
- How do you recover from a wisdom tooth extraction?
It’s best to take it easy after wisdom tooth extraction and allow yourself to heal. Always follow your dentist’s instructions. To facilitate healing, remember the dos and don’ts after the procedure.
- When should I call my dentist or oral surgeon?
If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, contact your dentist or oral surgeon right away. These could signal an infection, nerve damage, or other significant problem:
- Swallowing or breathing problems
- Extreme bleeding
- Severe pain despite prescription pain relievers
- Worsened swelling after a couple of days
- Numbness or a loss of sensation
- Pus in or oozing from the socket
- Nasal discharge with blood or pus
- A foul taste in your tongue that won’t go away even after a salt water rinse
Wisdom teeth extraction is one of the most common dental operations. Be aware of the signs and symptoms and keep in mind that removing them as soon as these indicators develop is crucial to maintaining healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. If you still have wisdom teeth and aren’t sure if they need to be extracted, talk to a dentist.
Dr. Urszula Barrios has been providing comprehensive dental services since 2006. In need of a wisdom tooth extraction? Schedule an appointment now by calling us at (519) 767-6453!