Wisdom Tooth Removal – A Guide

Most of us have our wisdom teeth removed in our late teens to early twenties. In fact, I just went through this with my daughter.

You may be wondering what to expect during the removal of your wisdom teeth, so I’ve written this article to help guide you through the process.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Your wisdom teeth are the four permanent molars located in the back of your mouth and usually don’t begin to surface until the mid to late teenage years. While most people have all of them, some folks don’t have any or only have a few.

Our human ancestors, who had a diet of crunchy, hard foods and uncooked meat, relied on their wisdom teeth to chew. But we’ve come a long way since then; we now have utensils to cut food and cook our meat. So wisdom teeth are no longer needed.

Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Come Out?

More often than not, our wisdom teeth grow at an angle and can become impacted in the jawbone, which can cause a lot of problems. Dental pain, gum disease, decay, and infection can occur in the wisdom teeth. They can also push your other teeth out of alignment when they erupt.

So, as a preventative method, most dentists will refer you to an oral surgeon to have your wisdom teeth surgically removed.

What Can I Expect When Having My Wisdom Teeth Out?

Thankfully, most wisdom teeth are removed while you are sedated with IV sedation or general anesthesia, so you won’t even remember the procedure.

Once you are wholly sedated, the doctor will completely numb the teeth and gums. He will then make a small incision in your gums and loosen the tooth, removing it from the socket. This will be done for all four wisdom teeth.

The area is then cleaned, and dissolvable stitches are placed in the incision. You will then be gently awakened from anesthesia. The entire process usually takes less than an hour.

What Happens After Surgery?

You will likely be groggy when awake and not remember too much for the first several minutes. Because your surgeon will have given you a local anesthetic in the gums, you will not be in tremendous pain.

You will be instructed about home care and how to prevent infection and dry sockets.

After being monitored in the surgeon’s office for about an hour, you will be sent home with a friend or family member to drive you.

Recovery and Aftercare

Most people generally feel discomfort for two to three days and fully recover by two weeks. You will be instructed to do the following:

  • Rest for 24 hours
  • Hold a cold icepack on your face for swelling
  • No strenuous activity for 2 to 3 days
  • Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water or a mouthwash provided by your dentist.
  • Avoid swishing too much, and do not drink from a straw for two weeks
  • No smoking
  • Take all of the medications prescribed to you, including pain relievers and antibiotics

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