If you think your wisdom teeth are coming through and you’re not sure if they’ll need to be removed, you’ve probably questioned your friends, your family, and your second cousin’s partner’s sister for answers about their own experiences to find out what you could be in for.
Will I have to go to hospital? Will I be eating baby food for weeks on end, bed ridden and watching the entire Netflix catalogue front to back?
When you don’t know what to expect after having your wisdom teeth removed, it can seem like a scary and painful experience when in reality, it’s usually a quick and straightforward procedure that will definitely be for the best in the long run!
We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions below when it comes to wisdom tooth removal recovery, to give you a better understanding about the process and reduce any fear you may have about this common dental treatment.
- What are wisdom teeth?
- Why do I need my wisdom teeth removed?
- How do I know if I have wisdom teeth?
- Wisdom teeth removal under local anesthetic vs general anesthetic
- What does the procedure for wisdom tooth removal involve?
- Do I need to see a specialist for wisdom tooth removal?
- How long does it take to recover from a wisdom tooth removal?
- What should I expect after getting my wisdom teeth removed?
- Wisdom tooth removal aftercare
1. What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third molar teeth at the back of your mouth, which are located both on the left and right, at the top and bottom. These teeth usually emerge after your other adult teeth, often in your late teens to early 20s.
For some people, wisdom teeth may only partly come through (erupt), or get stuck (impacted) by surrounding teeth or bone. Others may actually never develop wisdom teeth, which is nothing to be concerned about if this is the case.
2. Why do I need my wisdom teeth removed?
As wisdom teeth are the final ones to erupt, there is sometimes not enough space for these to fit in the jaw. When this happens, the tooth may come through on an angle, causing it to become impacted and press against the nearby teeth which can lead to pain and irritation of the cheeks and gums, also possibly making it difficult to open your mouth.
An impacted tooth can cause:
- Infected gums
- Tooth decay
- Damage to surrounding teeth
Your wisdom teeth may also need removing if:
- Their position makes it difficult to clean your teeth properly
- You are beginning orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign or braces and your dentist needs to make space for movement of other teeth
- You have jaw problems/require jaw surgery
Your dentist will be keeping an eye on the development of your wisdom teeth during your regular check-up and cleans throughout your late teens and early adulthood. If they don’t identify crowding and you aren’t in any pain, your wisdom teeth may be settling into your mouth with the necessary space and you may not ever require them to be removed.
3. How do I know if I have wisdom teeth?
In addition to the feeling of pain or discomfort which can indicate that your wisdom teeth are erupting, your dentist can also take x-rays to determine if a wisdom tooth is impacted and needs to be removed.
4. Wisdom teeth removal under local anesthetic vs general anesthetic
Wisdom teeth can either be removed under local anesthetic in the dental chair, or under general anesthetic in hospital.
This will depend on how complex the extraction is due to the position of the tooth, roots and jaw, as well as which option makes you feel more comfortable, and your budget or level of health insurance. Extraction under local anesthetic will also incur hospital fees which needs to be taken into account.
5. What does the procedure for wisdom tooth removal involve?
When having wisdom teeth removed under local anesthetic by your dentist, you’ll be awake in the dental chair during the procedure. They will inject anesthetic into the surrounding gums so your mouth will be numb throughout the entire process, although you still may be able to feel some pressure.
At Oasis Dental Studio, you can also opt for twilight sedation for wisdom tooth removal on the Gold Coast, where you are in an extremely relaxed and sleepy state, and you won’t have any recollection of the procedure but are not unconscious. Twilight sedation is a fantastic option for nervous dental patients who are seeking pain-free dentistry.
When having wisdom teeth removed under general anesthetic in hospital, extraction will occur under surgical conditions, where you’ll be admitted to a hospital in day surgery. A qualified anesthetist will administer the general anesthetic through a drip into your arm or hand, and monitor you throughout the whole procedure while your Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon completes the extraction. You will be completely unconscious and have no memory of the surgery.
The wisdom tooth removal process usually involves:
- Making an incision in the gum tissue to expose the tooth and bone
- Removing any bone around your tooth that blocks access
- Dividing the tooth into sections with a drill if it’s easier to remove in pieces
- Extracting the tooth
- Cleaning the area where the tooth was, to ensure there is no remaining tooth or bone debris
- Stitching the wound closed to optimise healing if necessary
- Inserting gauze over the extraction site to control bleeding and assist a blood clot to form
The actual removal process can take roughly from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how complicated the extraction is.
6. Do I need to see a specialist for wisdom tooth removal?
Wisdom teeth can come through at many different angles, making their removal variable in complexity. Their position can also be deep within the jawbone or close to nerves or sinuses.
Therefore, if the removal is more complicated, you may be referred by your dentist to a wisdom tooth specialist known as an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon for the most effective removal. Many wisdom tooth extractions can simply be completed by your general dentist in the dental practice, which they can determine after taking x-rays of your teeth and coming up with a treatment plan with you to decide on the best course of action.
7. How long does it take to recover from a wisdom tooth removal?
The recovery time for wisdom tooth extraction differs depending on several factors, including:
- How many teeth were removed
- Whether stitches were required
- How complex the extraction process was, occurring in the chair or in hospital
Wisdom tooth extraction recovery usually takes between a day to a week. after which you will feel up to resuming your normal activities.
8. What should I expect after getting my wisdom teeth removed?
After your wisdom tooth extraction, some pain, swelling, and a small amount of bleeding and bruising are all normal for the first few days, especially once the local anesthetic wears off.
Your dentist will advise you on the appropriate aftercare, including advice on pain medication to make yourself comfortable, and they may also provide you with extra gauze for any post-op bleeding, and some items to help keep the wound clean.
9. Wisdom tooth removal aftercare
After your extraction, there are a number of things you can do and also several you should avoid to ensure you heal as quickly as possible.
What to do after wisdom teeth removal:
- Bleeding: If bleeding occurs, bite down on a clean cotton pad or gauze until the bleeding stops
- Swelling: Place an ice pack over the jaw to reduce discomfort and swelling, 20 minutes on then 20 minutes off
- Rinse your mouth with warm salty water after the first day to keep the wound clean and prevent infection
- Stick to soft foods, such as yoghurt, fruit puree, smoothies and mashed vegetables
- Get plenty of rest and take it easy
What to avoid after wisdom teeth removal:
For the first 24 hours after your wisdom teeth extraction:
- Avoid applying pressure or suction to the wound
- Don’t drink through a straw
- Don’t brush your teeth around the wound, and be extremely careful when brushing
- Avoid blowing your nose
- Avoid spitting or excessive rinsing
- Avoid drinking alcohol for 48 hours or smoking for at least 72 hours
- Avoid hot liquids
- Avoid strenuous/physical activity
All of these factors have the potential to disturb the blood clot forming in the wound (which is what we want!) and prevent healing. The blood clot protects any exposed bone or nerve endings, and stops food debris from getting into the wound.
When the clot doesn’t form or is dislodged, this can lead to dry socket. Dry socket can cause a throbbing pain at the wound, several days after the extraction.
If you notice any other symptoms like pus/discharge, severe pain or a fever, increased bleeding, a bad taste/odour, or excessive pain/swelling that goes beyond 2-3 days, it’s important to contact your dentist as soon as possible to ensure you don’t have an infection and heal as quickly as possible.
Complications from wisdom teeth removal are usually very rare, and the benefits of having these teeth removed far outweigh the costs with the potential of causing problems further down the track.
Gold Coast Wisdom Teeth Removal
To find out more about wisdom teeth extractions with our highly experience Gold Coast dentists, get in touch with one of our dental clinics below: