What to Expect Before, During, and After Having Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Your wisdom teeth are your third set of molars and the last of your adult teeth to emerge through the gum tissue. For most people, they come in between ages 17-25. While some people’s wisdom teeth come in normally, for many, they cause problems that require a dentist or oral surgeon to remove them.

At Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi in Flowood, Mississippi, Dr. Michael Nichols and his team are well versed in wisdom teeth and their removal. As wisdom teeth are more prone to extraction than any other teeth, we want our patients to understand the problems they can pose, as well as what can be expected during and after the removal process.

Wisdom teeth difficulties

By the time wisdom teeth erupt, your other 28 teeth have already settled into place, often making it tight for four large teeth to fit in comfortably.

If a wisdom tooth only erupts partially through the gum tissue, it’s easy for food to become trapped between the tooth and the gum, making it more difficult to clean the teeth and keep the area free of infection and decay.

However, wisdom teeth can also cause problems even if they erupt through the gum tissue entirely. They may grow in at an angle, they might rub against your cheeks or gums. And they can cause pain by pushing against other teeth.

Problems with wisdom teeth tend to occur more often after age 30. That’s because, as the teeth develop, the roots grow longer and the jawbone becomes more dense. When you remove impacted wisdom teeth after your 30s, recovery takes more time as healing slows down, and there’s a higher risk of complications such as infection.

Some of the possible problems of not removing your wisdom teeth include:

Infection

Pericoronitis, a localized gum infection, is a common problem. If the tooth can’t erupt completely, the gum around the tooth can become irritated and infected, leading to pain, swelling, and problems with chewing and/or swallowing.

Cyst Formation

Cysts are fluid-filled bubbles that form inside the jawbone as a result of impacted teeth. They can expand, destroying adjacent bone tissue and occasionally teeth in the process.

Damage to adjacent teeth

If you don’t have enough room to clean around the wisdom tooth, you can experience gum disease, decay in the molar directly in front of it, and/or bone loss beneath it.

The extraction procedure

We perform all wisdom teeth extractions as an outpatient surgical procedure using IV sedation to keep you comfortable throughout the procedure, which will usually take 30-60 minutes. You won’t be able to eat or drink for six hours before the surgery because of the general anesthesia. And since you may be groggy afterward, we ask that you have a responsible adult with you to drive you home.

First, we start an IV in the back of your hand for optimal delivery of your medication. We also give you some local anesthesia after you’re asleep to ensure your comfort both during the procedure and while you travel home and rest. If your surgery requires stitches, we generally use the type that dissolve in 7 to 10 days and don’t require removal.

Postoperative care

Once you wake up, we keep you under supervision for a bit to ensure the gauze is positioned well, the bleeding stops, and you regain your bearings. Upon discharge, we provide you with written postoperative instructions, a prescription for a strong painkiller, a recommendation for an OTC anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, antibiotics, and a contact number to call in case you have a problem. We may also make a follow-up appointment in one week.

Don’t drink with a straw or smoke for at least 48-72 hours after the procedure, as they could dislodge the blood clot and cause dry socket syndrome, an extremely painful condition.

On the day after surgery, you may have some minor bleeding and pain — how much varies from person to person. Any swelling usually peaks on the third day, and then should begin to ebb. You can limit the swelling by using an ice pack on your cheek intermittently throughout the first day.

On the third day, your jaw muscles may be stiff, and it might be difficult to open your mouth normally. Apply moist heat to your face to allow your muscles to relax more and let you open wider. Allow time for your body to begin healing before resuming your normal routine. Most patients feel like they’re on their way to recovery in 3 to 5 days.

If you’re having trouble with your wisdom teeth or think they need to be removed, give Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi a call at 601-282-9290 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Nichols, or book your appointment online.

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