5 million wisdom teeth extractions happen each year.
It’s a common procedure, but that doesn’t mean anyone should take it lightly.
There are several things to keep in mind when preparing for wisdom teeth surgery. Keep reading to find out what to do and expect so you can have a smooth and easy recovery.
Why Wisdom Teeth Surgery?
Wisdom teeth are the third and final sets of molars to come in. Some people never get these four teeth and some people only have two.
It varies because they may have been used more in prehistoric times due to our other molars falling out. These third molars probably had room in our mouths when this happened, making them useful and complication-free.
As modern medicine and dentistry have developed, they’ve become unnecessary.
In fact, they’ve become problematic. If they don’t have room to grow in, they become impacted. Impaction may mean the teeth will grow in at various angles, causing pain and problems with your other teeth and jaw bone.
90% of people have at least one of their wisdom teeth impacted. This can cause swelling, limited jaw movement, pain, infection, and other complications.
Thus, many dentists suggest wisdom teeth removal. If that applies to you, here’s what you need to do before surgery.
What to do Before Surgery
Before surgery, your dentist or oral surgeon should x-ray your mouth to see the teeth positioning to determine the necessity of surgery.
In the appointment prior to surgery, make sure to ask all the questions you need to so that you can fully understand the procedure and risks. You should ask questions like these:
- How many wisdom teeth with you remove?
- How difficult or complicated with it be to remove them?
- What are the risks?
- How long will the surgery last?
- Have the wisdom teeth caused any damage yet?
- Will I need a follow-up appointment? Stitches?
- What is the recovery time?
- What are the anesthesia options and requirements?
- What do I need to do post-surgery (i.e. eating, drinking, gauze, etc)?
- Should I avoid eating or taking substances (prescription or nonprescription) before surgery?
Typically, you have a choice as to what type of anesthesia you receive. You’ll definitely get local anesthesia, which numbs the area of your mouth they work on.
You can also get nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to ease anxiety and nerves. You’ll still feel pressure and vibrations, but it shouldn’t hurt and the nitrous will make you unconcerned about it.
Or, you can opt for general anesthesia, meaning you won’t be conscious during the procedure. Anesthesia isn’t a light matter, so be sure that it’s necessary for the difficulty of the procedure or the level of anxiety you have surrounding surgery.
Be sure to let the surgeon know of any medical conditions you have. If you have a condition like dementia, for instance, you should avoid general anesthesia.
Understand Potential Complications
The complications of wisdom teeth surgery are typically rare, but still important to know so you can make informed decisions.
The sockets (the holes where your teeth were) may become infected. Additionally, there may be damage to other teeth, nerves, the jawbone, or your sinuses.
Again, this is rare. Especially if you go to a doctor that performs wisdom teeth removal regularly.
The most likely complication is dry sockets (alveolar osteitis), which occurs when the blood clot cannot form or stay long enough for your gums to heal. This can be avoided by following your doctor’s recovery instructions.
They will probably give you after surgery advice like the following tips.
What to do After Surgery
The main two areas of concern after surgery are what to eat and drink and how to take care of yourself to recover. Follow the instructions given to you.
They may be different than these suggestions, but often they’re along these lines.
Eating and Drinking
Your mouth may be sore for up to a week. Complete healing of your gums will take even longer.
For the first 24 hours after your surgery, stick to the softest foods you can find. This can be yogurt, soup, smoothies, and ice cream.
This lets your jaw rest and ensures that nothing hard or chewy will get in the way of the blot clots stopping your gums from bleeding so that they can heal.
For up to five days you should probably stick to semi-soft foods, so as to not irritate your wounds. This includes mashed potatoes, eggs, and noodles.
The idea is to make it as easy as possible for your mouth to heal without complications. Part of this is drinking plenty of water while avoiding hot liquids, alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks.
Additionally, it’s essential that you don’t drink with a straw. Doing so can cause dry sockets, as sucking or blowing results in the blood clots dislodging from your gums, prolonging the healing process.
Pain levels vary from person to person, so it’s difficult to say how it will be for you. You can manage your pain in a few different ways.
Medication is the first way to manage pain. However, you should consider avoiding narcotics (opioids) altogether. These substances can be extremely addictive and you’ll find that acetaminophen and ibuprofen can do the trick just fine.
Otherwise, keep your head elevated above your heart, get plenty of rest, and use ice packs to relieve pain and swelling.
You may need to replace your mouth gauze according to your doctor’s instructions. Also, try to avoid messing with the surgical areas with your tongue to let it properly heal.
Take it easy for the week following surgery. You can brush your teeth again 24 hours after your surgery, but be gentle and mindful of where you’re brushing. Don’t directly brush the area near your wounds.
Avoid tobacco and anything smokable to give yourself the best opportunity to heal.
If something doesn’t feel right, call your doctor and schedule a follow-up.
This includes if you have excessive bleeding, difficulty swallowing, a fever, or abnormally severe pain. Don’t be afraid to give them a call if you see any indications of infection, either.
Live Your Healthiest Life
Living your healthiest life may mean getting wisdom teeth surgery.
If it does, you now know a little bit more information to help you have a speedy recovery.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get all of the information you need. Knowledge is power, especially in regard to health decisions.
Keep reading our blog for more health information, and contact us today for any wisdom teeth concerns.