Is wisdom tooth removal in your near future?
Having these teeth, also known as the third molars, extracted has become a rite of passage into adulthood, but nevertheless, most patients aren’t thrilled about the prospect of having any teeth pulled.
Fortunately, understanding what to expect can help calm your nerves about the procedure.
To address our patients’ most common questions and concerns, our professional treatment team has put together a handy survival guide for having your wisdom teeth removed.
Why Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Necessary?
Erupting wisdom teeth are notorious for causing dental problems.
The third molars frequently become impacted, unable to fully emerge through the gum tissue. And if they do push their way through the gums, the teeth often come it an angle. Crooked growth can cause damage to neighboring teeth and lead to overcrowding in the mouth.
For these reasons, wisdom tooth extraction can be necessary. However, our oral surgeons typically take a proactive approach and recommend third molar removal for most patients, even if they have not yet begun experiencing dental problems.
Oral surgeons take this approach because the research demonstrates that keeping the wisdom teeth increases the risk of gum disease, whether they emerge or remain below the gumline. The back of the mouth is difficult to clean, so the area is a breeding ground for the bacteria that cause gingivitis and periodontitis.
What Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Like?
The most important thing to remember is that you won’t feel any pain or discomfort from the extraction procedure. In fact, you probably won’t feel it at all.
On the day of your extraction, a local anesthetic will be administered to numb your mouth. This anesthetic is used in conjunction with a second method of sedation to keep you comfortable, relaxed and pain free. We have several options for secondary sedation, depending on the oral surgeon’s recommendation.
One option is oral sedation, taken in pill form. This type of medication targets the anxiety center of the brain, easing your fears and making you feel calm and sleepy.
Extraction patients also frequently choose laughing gas, or inhaled sedation. This method of anesthesia changes your perception of pain and produces a sense of well-being and euphoria.
Intravenous (IV) sedation methods may also be used, especially for patients with impacted wisdom teeth. This approach is often referred to as “twilight sleep,” because although most patients have no memory of the procedure, it doesn’t cause them to lose consciousness.
If you undergo IV sedation, you will need to have someone along to drive you home.
What Is Recovery Like for Wisdom Tooth Extractions?
The level of discomfort you feel after your wisdom tooth extraction will depend on the specifics of your procedure. But for most patients, ice packs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually enough to manage the pain.
Your cheeks will likely swell after the procedure, and you may experience slight bleeding and bruising. For the first 48 hours after your tooth removal, you’ll need to avoid strenuous activity. And you’ll be eating a soft food diet for a few days.
Most patients begin to heal within three to five days. Complete healing generally takes three to four weeks. In the meantime, it’s important to be diligent about keeping your mouth clean, to decrease the risk of infection. The more carefully you follow your aftercare instructions, the lower your chance of experiencing any complications.
The professional team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah specializes in extractions as well as oral surgery and dental implants. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office today to schedule a consultation for your wisdom tooth removal.