In our last blog post, we discussed what wisdom teeth are, problems that arise from them, and how to treat them. At Lifetime Family Dental, we know some of the horror stories surrounding wisdom tooth removal. We want to reassure you that this surgery is very commonplace for dentists. In today’s post, we will review what to expect during the procedure, and discuss any complications that might arise, along with expected recovery times.
The process of wisdom tooth removal is similar to any other extraction. A topical numbing anesthesia is swabbed onto the gums, and then a deeper numbing agent is injected into the tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth area. In addition to numbing, a sedative is also given. The point is for you to feel as comfortable as possible. When you are numb and relaxed, the surgery will begin and typically will last around 45 minutes. The duration depends on the alignment, the depth, and the quantity of the teeth being removed.
If the wisdom teeth are impacted, you need to take certain precautions to prevent a dry socket. This is a common complication that happens when a blood clot doesn’t form in the hole left from the surgery. You should not drink from a straw or suck on anything. You must be gentle when rinsing your mouth; hard swishing should be avoided. If you experience pain 3-4 days after surgery, call us. A dry socket can lead to a serious infection if not treated.
A much more rare complication is nerve damage. The root of the tooth is very close to nerves in the jaw. If the nerves are damaged, you will experience numbness in your jaw, cheeks or gums that may last several days or several weeks. It is very rare, but it is important to be aware that it is a possible complication.
There are several common effects from oral surgery that you may experience in the healing process. Some bleeding is to be expected and can be controlled by placing gauze (or a tea bag) over the wound and gently biting down for 30 minutes or so. This will allow the blood to clot and form a covering for the socket. Call us if you experience heavy bleeding. Avoid rinsing or spitting for the first 24 hours after surgery.
You will likely experience facial pain and swelling for a day or two. Place an ice pack over the sore area, alternating 10 minutes on, 20 minutes off. Pain medication may also be prescribed if over-the-counter pain relievers are ineffective. If antibiotics were prescribed prior to surgery, continue to take them until you finish the entire course.
Solid food should be avoided for the first 24 hours, as should hot liquids. Warm liquids are fine. Your diet should consist of soft foods for the first few days, then semi-soft food can be introduced. If you are taking a narcotic pain reliever, don’t consume alcohol.
You can continue to softly brush your teeth on the second day, but avoid the area of the extraction for a few days. After 24 hours, you can carefully rinse with warm salt water. Don’t use commercial mouthwash as it can irritate the wound.
Full recovery can take several weeks to several months. After two weeks, you should be healed enough to resume your regular diet without pain.
The vast majority of wisdom tooth extractions will have no serious complications. However, call us if you experience any of the following: difficulty swallowing or breathing, excessive pain or bleeding, fever, numbness, or pus in the socket or sinuses.
At Lifetime Family Dental, wisdom tooth removal is a common procedure. We would be happy to discuss it in greater detail with you if you are experiencing issues with your wisdom teeth. At this time, we are presently only able to accommodate emergency situations, but when the COVID-19 crisis has passed, we will welcome routine appointments again. We look forward to seeing all of our clients again, but until then, stay safe and healthy!