Though we hear about people having wisdom teeth extraction all of the time we might begin to think of it as a minor issue. For some people it is a “simple” procedure. In fact, there are two ways that wisdom teeth extraction is described – simple and surgical. The simple procedures are those in which the teeth are fully erupted from the gum tissue and are in alignment with the rest of the teeth. These are often wisdom teeth that come out almost as easily and directly as all of the other adult teeth.
Then there are the surgical procedures that require incisions into the gum tissue because the teeth are not fully erupted, and in some cases have shown no signs of eruption at all. When this is the case, the patient must have x-rays done to show the position of the teeth and how they sit in proximity to the nerves and other roots. These can be challenging matters where wisdom teeth extraction is concerned, and a good oral surgeon will often make steps to ensure that their patient is well prepared for the procedure.
Usually, this means giving them a way of managing pain even before they arrive at the dental office. Most people going through wisdom teeth extraction will need to have a ride to and from the office because they will be given pain medications to help with any discomfort. These medications are usually imperative in the hours after the procedure because there is a lot of pain brought on by the many processes that have occurred.
For example, wisdom teeth extraction involves:
- Incisions in the gum tissue to expose the full tooth;
- Removal of some bone if it impedes access to the tooth or roots;
- Removal of the tooth (whether intact or in pieces); and
- Stitches if the incisions are large.
Clearly, many patients would awaken from their wisdom teeth extraction with tremendous discomfort, but most are provided with plenty of effective pain medication.
So, what can be expected in the hours and days following the procedure? The following list of symptoms or events tend to occur:
- Your mouth may bleed for the next 24 hours. This bleeding should not be extensive or heavy, and if it does not stop within that 24-hour window, it is essential to contact the dentist.
- You will have swelling in the face, and it can be extensive. The use of anti-inflammatory medications and ice packs are the best remedies – plus they help with pain too.
- You will be unable to eat regular foods or use straws. The suction created by the use of straws can actually cause the necessary blood clots to be dislodged from the gums. It is best to just eat foods with a spoon or gently sip beverages.
- You will have to avoid smoking in the days after extraction too as the suction and the smoke can pose problems to healing.
- You may have to return if you discover you have a “dry socket” or wound that will not heal. You may also have to return to have stitches removed.
Though it does seem like many things might occur after the procedure is done, nothing tremendously serious or problematic tends to happen. Wisdom teeth can be a real bother, but if you find that yours must be removed, you will be able to prepare for the procedure as well as know how to handle any problems afterward.
Dr. Jack Smith is a renowned oral care expert, author and researcher. He is the cofounder of WisdomTeethRemoval.com, a website providing comprehensive, unbiased information on Wisdom Teeth Removal. You can find more articles from Jack on the wisdom teeth removal blog…he is a top contributor there.