Wisdom Teeth Extraction Recovery

wisdom-tooth-extraction-recovery-225x300Your dentist has just given you the news that most of us will hear sooner or later: one or more of your wisdom teeth need to be removed. Sure, you have known friends and family members who underwent the procedure; you are aware that it is common and relatively minor. But things change when it’s going to be you in that chair, and you now find yourself wanting to get all the facts about the procedure and about wisdom teeth extraction recovery.

Why do wisdom teeth need to be taken out? As you probably know, wisdom teeth are the last molars to appear, and come in at the very back of your mouth. For a lucky few people, these third molars are well-aligned, cause no problems, and do not need to be removed. However, they often grow in sideways, only partially erupt from the gum, or, worst of all, get impacted or trapped beneath the gum and bone. When this happens, complications such as swelling, pain, infection and illness can result and surgery is a must. Often, dentists recommend wisdom teeth removal as soon as they see problems developing in order to prevent more serious future interventions.

Who will operate on me and what will it involve? Your surgery will be done by a licensed oral surgeon who has had years of training and clinical experience in this type of work. Before the operation, you will get plenty of opportunity to ask any questions you may have about what is in store. When the time comes, you will most likely be put under general anesthesia. The methods used to remove your wisdom teeth will vary, depending on your specific case. As you might imagine, the surgery is more complex if one or more of your teeth are impacted. Your health and safety will be constantly monitored throughout your surgery by the surgeon and staff trained in the use of anesthesia. You will be allowed to rest comfortably in the office until you and your escort are ready to go home. At that time, a follow-up appointment may be scheduled and prescriptions may be dispensed. Face and Jaw Surgery Staff will ensure that you understand all after-care instructions before you leave.

What should I expect once I get home? Your comfort and speed of recovery over the next few days will depend, in a large part, on how well you follow the instructions given by your oral surgeon. Pay careful attention to any specific instructions you have received, and also keep these general tips in mind:

  • Do not disturb the wound. If you do, irritation and infection could result.
  • Don’t smoke for at least 3 days, preferably a week, as it could lead to pain, bleeding and infection.
  • Don’t spit or suck through a straw. Your body has formed a clot as part of the healing process, and engaging in these activities could dislodge it, resulting in a painful condition known as dry socket.
  • If you experience bleeding, place a clean gauze pack over the site and apply firm pressure for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
  • During the first 3 to 4 days, swelling is normal. To alleviate it, for the first 48 hours, place a cold pack on the area 20 minutes on and 10 minutes off. Use a warm compress in a similar fashion after 48 hours.
  • After the first 24 hours, rinse your mouth with warm salt water three times a day to help with healing. Mix ½ teaspoon of salt with six-eight ounces of water.
  • Take acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, or prescription pain medications as directed.
  • Eating a soft diet is often recommended for the first few days after wisdom teeth extraction.
  • Finally, don’t hesitate to call your oral surgeon if you have questions or concerns.

Now you are armed with some basic facts. You can go to your oral surgery appointment with a better idea of what to expect. Getting your wisdom teeth removed is no picnic, but at least you know what steps you can take to minimize your discomfort after the procedure.