Do Your Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed?
If so, there are some things you should know about wisdom teeth, why they should come out, how they are extracted, and what to expect if you’re having them removed using a local anesthetic.
Your wisdom teeth are the last molars to come in or “erupt” through your gums, and in a lot cases, because your upper and lower jaws are already well populated with teeth, your wisdom teeth may erupt at unusual angles, put pressure on adjacent teeth, and cause a lot of pain. The time to have them extracted is before your wisdom teeth can cause even more trouble!
Your wisdom teeth will probably be extracted using a local anesthetic, which presents fewer risks than a general anesthetic and has a shorter recovery time.
- Keep the area surrounding your wisdom as free of food particles as possible. Brush and floss often.
- Make use of oral rinses to help flush tiny particles from between your teeth.
- If you smoke, stop. Smokers have a harder time healing after any surgical procedure.
- Include more liquids and light foods in your diet before surgery to reduce the amount of food that gets caught between your teeth while chewing.
- Bring bottled water with you to your appointment, because your mouth will feel dry after your extractions.
- Even with local anesthetic, you may not feel like driving yourself home or waiting for a bus or taxi. Ask a friend to drive you and keep you company.
- Don’t be tough. If you have a low tolerance for pain, ask your oral surgeon about pain medication.
Your oral surgeon will probably recommend the use of a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth/teeth to be removed. Teeth in the upper jaw can often be removed in a matter of minutes, but complicated tooth roots in the lower jaw can be more time consuming, perhaps taking as much as 45 minutes.
You may feel some tugging and pressure in your jaw, but the local anesthetic should control pain throughout the procedure. You may even hear some cracking noises as the tooth is removed, and if your oral surgeon needs to trim your gum to make extraction easier, you may need stitches to secure the tooth extraction site, and a prescription antibiotic to prevent infection.
If the first extraction is complicated, your oral surgeon may offer/suggest scheduling the additional extraction/s for a second appointment.
Essential Steps to a Quick Recovery
There are a number of steps you can take to speed up your healing.
Immediately after extraction:
- Go home and rest. Take pain medication to keep yourself comfortable.
- After two hours, take a light meal at room temperature. Nothing too hot or too cold. Nothing that requires serious chewing.
- If one or more tooth sockets bleed, place a piece of folded gauze or a cotton pad in the socket and bite down on it lightly for a few minutes.
The day after surgery:
- Stay home from work. Anyone having a tooth extraction should plan to rest for a full day after surgery, and to stay home for up to five days if swelling and/or pain persist.
- Continue to use your pain medication and antibiotics as directed.
- Mix a teaspoon of salt in a pint of warm water and use this as a rinse after eating and before bed.
- Continue your diet of soft foods at room temperature.
Two days after surgery:
- Gradually start to eat more substantial foods, as well as hot and cold foods and drinks, as long as they don’t cause discomfort.
- If you don’t need your pain medication, quit taking it. Continue with your antibiotics, if any.
- Continue using your salt water rinse after meals and before bed.
- Begin a regimen of gentle exercise, which will help speed the healing process.
What will you experience while healing?
Day 1: For approximately 3 hours after surgery your mouth will be numb, making it difficult to speak clearly. You will have a dry mouth and experience some swelling, especially if the tooth was hard to remove. You’ll be sore if you try to open your mouth very far.
Day 2: You will feel tired and headachy from the local anesthetic, but you will be able to open your mouth part way.
Day 2 and beyond: Your swelling will quickly decrease, making it possible to open your mouth wider. Eating will become easier.
Day 7: Swelling should be gone, and, if your surgeon placed dissolvable stitches, these will gradually dissolve over the next week.