What to Expect Before, During, and After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Wisdom tooth extraction may sound scary and seem overwhelming to most people. But in reality, it’s a common dental procedure that is necessary if you have an impacted wisdom tooth.

If you’re experiencing tooth pain in your molars and having difficulty chewing or opening your mouth, then you may need a wisdom tooth extraction. We’re here to help alleviate your fears with answers to all your wisdom tooth removal questions about the procedure and what to expect before, during and after a wisdom teeth removal surgery.  Keep reading to find out more. 

Why is Wisdom Teeth Removal Necessary?

Wisdom tooth removal may not be necessary for everyone. It’s only when the wisdom tooth causes a problem or may cause a problem in future that it has to be extracted. Otherwise, you can keep them without any complications.

Wisdom teeth are the last four molars in your mouth and the last to erupt, usually between the ages of 17 to 21. Since all the adult teeth have already emerged, the spaces in the jaw can sometimes be  already taken by the other teeth. As a result, the wisdom tooth may not have room to grow at the correct angle, growing sideways or horizontally. This causes them to tip into the other teeth. Other times, they don’t have space, so they may grow partially before getting stuck in the bone or not grow and stay completely trapped inside the bone. There may also be cases where the jaw is not big enough for the wisdom tooth to grow straight.

An impacted wisdom tooth can cause dental problems such as overcrowding, tooth decay and infection. The symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth include pain, swelling, difficulty chewing and bad breath. In cases where the infection has spread, you might even experience a sore throat, puss in the gums and sore and swollen lymph nodes under the jaw. Sometimes wisdom teeth may cause decay and infection for the neighbouring teeth. These issues may lay dormant and painless for many years before things get painful, by which point the wisdom tooth and the tooth in front has been so badly damaged they both need to be removed. Wisdom tooth removal is necessary if your tooth is impacted to avoid further complications and dental issues.

If the wisdom teeth grow straight and there’s plenty of space in your jaw to accommodate them, then there’s no need to get them removed. Wisdom teeth that grow deep inside the bone also tend to not cause many problems. Though it’s advisable to get it checked if you experience any discomfort, pain or any of the symptoms mentioned above.  

How do I prepare for wisdom teeth removal?

Wisdom tooth removal is a common dental procedure that includes roughly 2 weeks of recovery time. The surgery involves the administration of general or local anaesthesia to numb the area before surgery.

There will also be some preparation required before the surgery. If you’re a smoker, reduce smoking because smoking would take the wound much longer to heal. The best tip is to not listen to other people’s stories about their experiences because each case and experience is different.

If you’re just having a local anaesthesia or nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for the procedures, it’s not a problem to eat and drink before the procedure.  A light nutritious meal would be better than something too heavy.  You’ll also be fine to drive home afterwards, although many people do arrange for themselves to get picked up so they can just focus on recovery.  If you’re having a general anaesthetic for the procedure, you won’t be allowed to eat or drink about 12 hours beforehand.  

Take care of your prescription medications and painkillers before the surgery so you can leave immediately after. It’s also advisable to stock up on soft foods such as yoghurt, broths, and smoothies to consume once you get the go-ahead from your dentist. 

Process of Wisdom Teeth Removal

The process of wisdom tooth extraction begins with an initial consultation with an oral examination and x-rays to determine the position of the wisdom tooth. If the wisdom tooth is impacted, then your dentist will recommend removal. The sedation options will be discussed with you before the surgery.

The process of wisdom tooth removal surgery includes:

Before Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery

Before the surgery, patients will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area. Some patients may prefer sedation, like happy gas or some tablet that the dentist will recommend. If you are in a hospital, you can opt for a general anaesthetic which will put you to sleep for the duration of the surgery. 

During Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery

After the area has been numbed, the dentist will make an incision in the area to access the wisdom tooth. The impacted wisdom tooth will be extracted, the area cleaned, and the wound stitched. The dissolving stitches will fall out after several days once the wound is closed.

Patients under general aesthetics won’t be awake during the entire process. If you’re in a practice, you won’t feel any pain because of the anaesthesia, only the pressure and vibration of the instruments.

Wisdom tooth removal generally takes about 30 minutes to an hour. It may take more for complex cases where the wisdom tooth is buried deep inside the bone.

What to Expect After Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery?

Recovery time for each patient after a wisdom tooth generally takes about 2 weeks. It may vary based on each case, but proper aftercare is essential to speed up your recovery and healing.

After a wisdom tooth extraction:

You’ll Need Some Recovery Time

What determines the recovery time of a person is the complexity of the surgery. The more complex it is, the longer the recovery time.  Sometimes the wisdom tooth is too deep inside the bone and may take a deeper incision to access. Hence the wound will take longer to heal.

Your recovery time also depends on your age. For example, someone in their 20s may heal faster than someone in their 40s or 50s.  Also, if an impacted wisdom tooth is discovered in your early 20s, the dentist will recommend having it taken out  before possible issues arise.  This is because the process of extraction will become more complex in the future once you’re past the age of 30.

The average recovery time after wisdom tooth removal is usually up to 2 weeks

Choose Your Food Carefully

Eat colder foods as they will soothe the pain. The food should have no particles because they can get stuck to the gum. This makes the food particles difficult to clean, causing bad breath or risk of infection. It’s best to stick to semi-liquid foods such as ice cream, yoghurt, and soup purees. Once you feel you’re capable of eating food, you can transition to pureed or mashed vegetables, fruits, and oatmeal. 

Plan for Pain and Swelling

Your dentist will prescribe painkillers after the surgery. It’s usually recommended to take the medication on  course rather than waiting for the pain to come and then taking it. This may reduce the effectiveness of the pain medication and lead to unnecessary pain.

Use ice packs and cold compress on the outer surface of the jaw to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Drinking cold water also helps but refrain from wetting the wound for at least 24 hours. If there’s any bleeding, bite down on gauze until the bleeding stops. 

You Must Follow Up with Your Dentist

The pain and swelling will go down as you begin to heal, and the wound begins to close. If the pain or bleeding persists, consult your doctor immediately.

Things to Avoid after a Wisdom Tooth Extraction

  • Strenuous physical activity
  • Brushing your teeth on the first day
  • Smoking, alcohol or carbonated drinks
  • Solid foods or those with grains and seeds
  • Excessive rinsing, spitting or sucking through a straw
  • Hot foods and drinks

Wisdom Tooth Extraction: Final Word

Symptoms of a wisdom tooth should not be ignored and be checked by your dentist without delay. Sometimes an extraction may not be necessary but ignoring the pain can lead to complications. Your dentist is the best person to guide you after consultation, examination and x-rays if a wisdom tooth removal should be done or not.

Like any surgery, it’s vital to follow the correct aftercare after wisdom tooth removal to speed up recovery and get back to your normal schedule.  If you’re experiencing the symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth and are hesitant about what the surgery will involve, reach out to our dentists at Whitehorse Dental. We have a team of highly trained dentists to make your wisdom tooth extraction and recovery process as comfortable as possible. Book an appointment today.