Are you having your wisdom teeth removed in the near future? If so, you’re in good company. Every year in America, an estimated 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted to reduce crowding, decrease pain, and get rid of dental decay.
For many people, wisdom tooth extraction is their first oral surgery. It’s normal to be nervous ahead of an experience like this. If you have a clear idea of what the procedure involves, though, you’ll feel much calmer and more prepared.
To learn what to expect from the wisdom tooth removal process, read on.
Before Your Appointment
The process of wisdom tooth removal always begins with a consultation appointment. This may happen at your normal dental cleaning, or your dentist could refer you to an oral surgeon.
Either way, the consultation will begin with a health history and general oral exam. They’ll take x-rays or other images of your mouth to identify the current state of your wisdom teeth. Then, they’ll discuss the procedure with you and answer any questions you may have.
The Wisdom Tooth Removal Process
The day of your appointment, have someone drive you there and stay to take you home. Wisdom tooth removal requires sedation (usually “laughing gas” or general anesthesia) and it isn’t safe to operate a vehicle afterward.
Your oral surgeon will begin by numbing your mouth and/or sedating you for the procedure, so you won’t feel any pain. The extraction normally takes around 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on how easy your wisdom teeth are to remove. The surgeon will carefully cut open your gums to access the teeth, extract them, and close your gums back together with dissolvable stitches.
Next, place cotton rolls or gauze in your mouth to absorb any blood or seepage from the wound on your way home. The dental team will gradually wake you up, give you any required prescriptions for pain medicine and antibiotics, and have your driver take you home.
What Happens After Wisdom Tooth Removal
You’re likely to feel sore, groggy, and a bit confused for the rest of the day after your procedure. Some pain, swelling, and bleeding around the incision sites are normal for the first few days. You can treat this with a combination of ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.
The healing process after wisdom tooth removal will take a few months to complete, but you can go back to normal life within 2-3 days. Make sure to follow your surgeon’s post-op instructions exactly. You may have to change how you brush and floss your teeth until the incisions close.
You’ll also need to be careful with what you eat for a few weeks after wisdom teeth removal. Stick to soft things like broths and blended soups, oatmeal, and smoothies, but avoid eating or drinking anything that’s too hot and don’t use straws (the suction can pull out stitches and blood clots, causing dry socket).
Getting a Wisdom Tooth Removed Is Nothing to Be Afraid Of
The wisdom tooth removal process may seem frightening at first, but there’s no reason to be scared. Your oral surgeon is experienced, capable, and able to answer any questions you still have about the procedure.
Want to know more about taking care of your health? Make sure to check out the other articles on our site.