Wisdom Teeth Removal: What to Know

Feb 19, 2019 | General Dentistry

Are you getting your wisdom teeth removed soon?

You may be feeling a sense of apprehension or even fear. That is a perfectly normal reaction.

But with a little knowledge, you’ll see that extraction is a common and painless procedure.

So what is there to know about having your wisdom teeth taken out?

That’s the subject of today’s blog post. Read on to discover everything you need to know about wisdom teeth removal so you can rest assured you’re doing the right thing.

Why Wisdom Teeth Removal is Needed

So why do most people get their wisdom teeth removed? The most common reasons are:

  • Your mouth isn’t big enough. With age comes wisdom — our wisdom teeth don’t come in until sometime between the ages of 17 and 25. If there’s no room in your mouth for these new molars, you will need to remove them before they negatively impact neighbouring teeth.
  • Your teeth are impacted. Without much room to erupt, wisdom teeth can become lodged in your jawbone or gums. They can also grow in at an odd angle and press against other teeth. Removing the wisdom teeth creates space for your remaining teeth and makes it easier to brush and floss.
  • You may have gum disease. Because wisdom teeth are hard to clean and maintain, it’s easier to develop gum disease. Complicating the matter is you may not have any discomfort in your mouth at all and be completely unaware of gum disease.


Preparing for Oral Surgery

Your dentist may perform the extraction or he/she may refer you to an oral surgeon to perform the procedure. In either case, you will meet with the person in charge of your procedure for a consultation.

You will need to provide some important information including a list of prescriptions you take. You can also ask the professional any questions you may have.

At this time, you can request your preference for anaesthesia. You can choose to be awake or asleep during the procedure via the following:

  • Local anaesthesia:You will receive an injection of strong anaesthetic in your gums to help alleviate the pain.
  • IV Sedation:You will receive sedative drugs in one of 3 ways. You will relax and be drowsy and may or may not sleep during the process.

If you elect for sedation during the procedure, make sure you have someone to drive you home afterwards.


What Happens During Surgery

Your doctor will likely need to place an incision in your gums or bone to pull the tooth out. Not to worry, he or she will stitch the wound and the stitches will dissolve in a few days. The dentist will also stuff gauze pads into your mouth to absorb the blood.

If you chose local anaesthesia, you may feel alert enough to drive home or even perform your normal daily activities. Of course, play it safe and get a lift home if your surgery involves general anaesthesia.


Recovering from the Procedure

You may find it surprising that removing your wisdom teeth results in very little pain or no pain at all. You will likely experience mild discomfort for a few days as the swelling subsides.

Eat soft foods such as pasta and soup for a few days. Help the swelling go down with ice packs. Apply a warm cloth to your jaw if it is feeling tender.

Drink plenty of fluids to help your body recover and take any drugs your dentist gives you to help alleviate pain.

You shouldn’t brush your teeth for a few days due to the wounds. When you do resume brushing, take care to avoid brushing the areas with blood clots.


Complications from Wisdom Teeth Removal

In general, wisdom teeth removal is a relatively painless procedure with no complications; however, extracting a tooth leaves a small hole where that tooth used to be. This hole, known as a socket, can become quite sensitive after a tooth removal. Nerves can become exposed after a tooth extraction if the blood clot gets knocked loose.

It can also lead to bone loss and cosmetic issues due to shifting teeth.

A procedure called ‘Socket preservation’ is sometimes performed as part of the extraction. This helps to protect the alveolar ridge, which is the bone that surrounds your teeth’s roots. It also helps to preserve the soft tissues around the socket.

The procedure takes place during the tooth extraction and involves the placement of PRGF – protein rich growth factors (centrifuged from your own blood) within the socket at time of extraction, with or without bone grafting material (or scaffold).  This creates a rich environment for improved bone regeneration which helps preserve the hard and soft tissues. The name for this type of modern innovation is ‘regenerative medicine’.

If you’re planning on having a wisdom tooth extraction, you’ll want to discuss with your dentist whether socket preservation is needed.


The Bottom Line About Wisdom Tooth Removal

Wisdom teeth removal is usually necessary for the overall health of your mouth. You are much more likely to get gum disease if you allow impacted teeth to remain in your mouth.

Call your dentist or oral surgeon if you experience anything out of the ordinary such as the following: fever, increased swelling, excessive bleeding, pus, or difficulty swallowing or breathing.

For more information, check out our answers to common questions about tooth removal.

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