Did you know that 5 million Americans get their wisdom teeth removed every year?
Anyone who has had a wisdom tooth extraction can tell you how much of a problem they cause. When impacted, wisdom teeth can result in pain, damage to other teeth, or other teeth and gum issues.
If your dentist recently told you it’s time to get your wisdom teeth out, do you know what to expect?
Here’s everything you need to know about wisdom teeth removal, including what to expect before, during, and after your surgery.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are your last set of adult molars that come into your mouth, usually in your late teens or early 20s. Most people have four at the back of the mouth – two at the top, two at the bottom.
However, it isn’t uncommon for people not to have any wisdom teeth at all.
Some wisdom teeth come through (erupt) without any issues, but others become impacted or cause pain and need to be removed.
How Do You Know if You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?
There is no hard or fast rule for when it’s time to have your wisdom teeth removed. Some people opt not to have their wisdom teeth removed if they’re not giving them any pain.
But due to the impact they can have on oral health, it’s usually recommended to have them extracted. Some symptoms to look out for include:
- Aching sensation around your jaw bone
- Swelling and redness around wisdom teeth
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing food
- Cold and flu-like symptoms
If you experience these symptoms, you should book a consultation with your dental clinic. They can determine whether the pain is caused by your wisdom teeth or something else going on.
Preparing for Wisdom Teeth Removal
If your dentist has recommended a wisdom tooth extraction, you already have x-rays, and it’s time to plan your procedure.
Before surgery, your dentist will schedule you for an appointment to discuss the procedure and answer any questions. They will also ask you about your health history and any medications you are currently on.
Be honest if you take any recreational drugs or alcohol. A body accustomed to drugs and alcohol can pose a different set of challenges. By letting us know, you’re helping us prepare for anything unexpected.
Then, your dentist will go through your anesthesia options, so you’ll know exactly what to expect on your surgery day.
You can also do a few things to prepare yourself for wisdom teeth removal. They include:
- Find a ride to and from the clinic
- Stock up on soft foods
- Choose a comfortable outfit
- Schedule time off of work or school
- Stock up on pain relievers
- Prepare entertainment options
Twelve hours before your surgery, you cannot eat, drink, or smoke. Finally, when it’s time for surgery, turn off your phone and hand it to your parents(s), partner, or caregiver.
What Happens During a Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
The day of your oral surgery can be daunting, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Your oral surgeon will talk you through the procedure and answer any last-minute questions you may have.
The procedure itself doesn’t take long – between 45 minutes to an hour and a half. The time it takes generally depends on how many wisdom teeth are being extracted and if any are impacted.
An impacted wisdom tooth is a tooth that hasn’t erupted from the gum properly. This is one of the most common reasons why you’re experiencing pain.
The oral surgeon performing your tooth extraction will make a small incision to your gums to remove the tooth during the procedure. Then, they’ll stitch everything back up.
Recovery From Wisdom Tooth Dental Extraction
Most patients find the recovery the most challenging part – which makes sense given you’re under anesthetic for the procedure.
You would most likely wake up in a dental chair if you were given local anesthesia. If you were given general anesthesia, you would be taken to a recovery room where you would slowly wake up.
General aesthetic takes longer to wear off and may linger for a day or so. But this is perfectly normal.
Most people fully recover from wisdom tooth extraction within three to four days. However, if your teeth are impacted, it may take up to a week.
You can expect to be a little bit swollen and sore for the first two to three days after the procedure. This is entirely normal and will subside over time. Keep in mind that the wound inside your mouth won’t completely heal for another month or so.
What Happens if You Don’t Remove Your Wisdom Teeth?
While not all patients need their wisdom tooth removed, problems can develop if you choose not to. These include:
- Infection and gum disease
- Cysts and tumors
Patients with smaller mouths and jaws may experience overcrowding. When this happens, your teeth will begin to shift and overlap each other. In cases like this, a wisdom tooth extraction is advised.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction: What Adults Should Expect
Wisdom tooth extraction is one of the most common dental surgical procedures in the US.
After dental surgery, most people will have minimal pain and resume normal activities within a week.
For some patients, wisdom teeth removal can be quite daunting. But, with the right oral surgeon, you can feel safe knowing you’re in the best hands.
At Billings Oral Surgery & Dental Impact Center, our skilled oral surgeons will guide you through the process and ensure you’re comfortable at all times.
Don’t let sore wisdom teeth ruin your day-to-day life. Request an appointment today.