Wisdom tooth removal is a most common surgical procedure useful to remove one or more wisdom teeth. The wisdom teeth are the four permanent adult teeth which are located at the rear corners of the mouth on the top and bottom.
If a wisdom tooth has insufficient space to grow (causing impacted wisdom tooth), it results in pain, infection or other dental problems, and will most likely need to have it pulled for relief from the symptoms. Wisdom tooth extraction may be done by a dentist or an oral surgeon.
To prevent potential future problems, some dentists and oral surgeons recommend wisdom tooth extraction even if impacted teeth aren’t currently causing problems.
Many people develop impacted wisdom teeth, which are teeth that have insufficient space to erupt into the mouth or develop normally. Impacted wisdom teeth may erupt only partially or not at all.
An impacted wisdom tooth may:
You’ll likely need your impacted wisdom tooth pulled if it results in problems such as:
It’s difficult to predict future problems with impacted wisdom teeth. However, here’s the explanation in support of preventive extraction:
Mostly, wisdom tooth removal does not result in long-term complications. However, removal of impacted wisdom teeth might rarely require a surgical approach that involves making an incision in the gum tissue and removing bone. Rarely, complications can include:
The dentist/oral surgeon may use one of the following types of anesthesia, depending on the expected complexity of the wisdom tooth extraction and your comfort level. Options include:
The dentist/oral surgeon administers local anesthesia near the site of each extraction. Before you receive an injection, your dentist or surgeon will usually apply a substance to your gums to numb them. You’re awake during the tooth extraction. Although you’ll feel some pressure and movement, you shouldn’t experience pain.
The dentist/oral surgeon gives you sedation anesthesia through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. Sedation anesthesia suppresses your consciousness during the procedure. You don’t feel any pain and will have limited memory of the procedure. Local anesthesia might also be applied to numb your gums.
In special situations, you may be offered general anesthesia. You may inhale medication through your nose or have an IV line in your arm, or both. Then you lose consciousness. You’ll experience no pain and have no memory of the procedure. Local anesthesia is also given to help with postoperative discomfort.
During wisdom tooth extraction, the dentist/oral surgeon:
In case of sedation anesthesia or general anesthesia, you’re taken to a recovery room after the procedure. In case of local anesthesia, your brief recovery time is likely in the dental chair.
The dentist/oral surgeon will brief you regarding the post-operative care for:
Bleeding – Some bleeding may occur the first day after wisdom tooth removal. Try and avoid excessive spitting so that you don’t dislodge the blood clot from the socket. Replace gauze over the extraction site as directed by your dentist or oral surgeon.
Pain management – The pain may be managed with an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), or a prescription pain medication from your dentist or oral surgeon. Prescription pain medication may be additionally helpful if bone has been removed during the procedure. An ice pack applied to the jaw also may relieve pain.
Swelling/Bruising – Using an ice pack as directed by the dentist/surgeon helps to improve any swelling of your cheeks in two or three days. Bruising may take several more days to resolve.
Activity – After the surgery, plan to rest for the remainder of the day and resume normal activities the next day, but for at least a week, avoid strenuous activity that might result in losing the blood clot from the socket.
Beverages – Drink lots of water after the surgery. Avoid drinking alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated or hot beverages in the first 24 hours. Don’t drink with a straw for at least a week because the sucking action can dislodge the blood clot from the socket.
Food – Eat only soft foods, such as yogurt or applesauce, for the first 24 hours. Start eating semisoft foods when you can tolerate them. Avoid hard, chewy, hot or spicy foods that might get stuck in the socket or irritate the wound.
Stitches – You may have stitches that dissolve within a few weeks or no stitches at all. If your stitches need to be removed, schedule an appointment to have them taken out.
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