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What to Expect When Having Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Has your dentist recommended that it’s time to extract your wisdom teeth? This is not uncommon, as over 50% of people are recommended to have them taken out. Your dentist may be able to remove them or refer you to an oral surgeon that can, and after the procedure, you should be back up and running like normal within a few days. Wisdom teeth are your third set of molars that typically begin to erupt around the age of 18. A panoramic x-ray is the best way to spot these teeth and their positioning within the mouth. 

Why Should They Come Out?

  • The first and most common need for extraction is due to impaction. This means that they’re so far back in your mouth that they likely won’t be able to erupt normally. They may not come in at all or come in partially, leading to pain and a higher chance of infection. 
  • You may have a mouth that is too small to fit an extra set of teeth. 
  • Wisdom teeth may be prone to forming at the wrong angle. They may be facing your cheeks or angled into the neighbouring teeth, potentially leading to future issues.  
  • If wisdom teeth have partially erupted, they are at a higher risk of cavities, gum disease and infection. They are much more challenging to clean, and you may not be able to brush and floss them properly. Issues with wisdom teeth can even spread to the next molars. 

Before Wisdom Teeth Removal

You will have a consultation appointment with your dentist, where you can talk about the procedure and what to expect. Any health conditions, past surgeries and current medications will be discussed. You can ask any questions you have about the process, and post-op instructions will be discussed. 

During Wisdom Teeth Removal

The main types of anesthetics are local anesthetic, IV sedation and general anesthetic. 

  1. Local anesthetics: Entails numbing of the specific areas but not using any other drug that numbs or relaxes your body. You will be alert right after the procedure. 
  2. IV sedation: The same numbing will be applied to your mouth, but you will also be given drugs through IV that help relax you and make you drowsy. You may sleep through the procedure and not remember it. 
  3. A general anesthetic will put you asleep during the procedure. You will likely not wake up for an hour after the process is finished. The recovery time is a little longer with a general anesthetic. 

During the procedure, your gums and bone will be cut open, exposing the wisdom teeth. They will use specific tools to access the wisdom teeth and remove them. A few stitches will be used to close the wounds, and the stitches will dissolve over the next week. 

After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Your recovery process will significantly depend on what type of anesthetic you received and the difficulty of the wisdom teeth impaction. Wisdom teeth that have erupted through the gum are much easier and simpler to remove than wisdom teeth that are impacted underneath the gum and bone.

You will likely experience mild swelling and discomfort for a few days after the procedure. You may also have a sore jaw opening wide for a few days. If you are experiencing pain, swelling, bleeding or a bad taste or smell past a few days after the procedure, it is essential to return to your dentist or oral surgeon for an assessment. 

What you can do at home after your procedure:

  • Drink lots of water and stay hydrated 
  • Use an ice pack on your face to prevent swelling 
  • Exercise your jaw by opening and closing it gently throughout the day 
  • Eat only soft foods for the first few days, such as soup and apple sauce 
  • Avoid using a toothbrush on the day of the surgery, start brushing on day two and avoid brushing the extraction sites 
  • Take the medication your dentist has prescribed

Things to avoid after your procedure: 

  • Don’t drink through a straw or smoke. The sucking action will loosen the blood clots that form over the extraction sites that are meant to help with healing. 
  • Don’t brush your extraction sites for at least a few days. 
  • Don’t eat hard, crunchy, chewy or sticky foods for at least a few days. 
  • Don’t rinse your mouth too aggressively. 

If you have questions about the wisdom teeth extraction procedure or what to expect, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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