What You Need to Know About Wisdom Teeth Removal
You might be surprised to learn that your wisdom teeth are, in fact, useless nowadays. In the 21st century, we’re well past the days when we needed powerful chompers to help us break down tough roots or raw meat, but our mouths keep pushing out these extra teeth anyway.
And while scientists think we may eventually evolve past them, that doesn’t really help if one of these useless teeth is causing pain in your mouth!
If you’re one of the many unlucky people who need wisdom teeth removal, you may be wondering what to expect from the process. From the preparation to the surgery to the aftermath, how should you prepare? Here’s what you should know.
When Do You Need Wisdom Teeth Removal?
The answer to this question can be complicated—especially because some people don’t have wisdom teeth at all!
For those who do have wisdom teeth, they often push through the gums when the person is in their late teens to early twenties.
However, these teeth can sometimes become “impacted,” which means that they crowd the back of your mouth, sometimes forcing other teeth into awkward or clustered positions. They may also come in at the wrong angle. Sometimes, teeth may even become trapped within the jawbone instead of pushing through the gums.
Initial issues with improper wisdom teeth growth can often include an inability to take care of your overall tooth health. With tooth crowding and awkward angles in the back of your mouth, it can become difficult or even impossible to brush or floss. This can lead to further tooth health complications during the line.
More severe complications from wisdom teeth may include pain, infection, or damage to other teeth or the jawbone.
It’s worth noting, of course, that some people whose teeth grow in well can go their entire lives without needing them removed! This is what makes the question so complicated: the details depend on the specifics of your wisdom teeth, which is why it’s so important to follow your dentist office’s recommendations if they tell you removal is necessary.
How to Prepare for Wisdom Teeth Removal
Once you’ve booked your surgery date, your dentist should give you specific instructions on how to prepare, particularly about when to stop eating before the procedure. However, there are a few general things you should keep in mind.
First, because the actual extraction process happens as outpatient surgery, you can leave once it’s done. Depending on the type of anesthesia you’ll receive and your dentist’s recommendations, it may be a good idea to have someone drive you home.
In addition, you’ll want to check in with your medical team about any medications you may be taking, as these may interfere with the anesthesia you receive during surgery.
What to Expect From Wisdom Teeth Surgery
Before your surgery, you’ll be asked to come in for an evaluative dentist appointment. This usually includes taking an X-ray to better understand the positions of your wisdom teeth. If you are experiencing problems with one or more wisdom teeth, they may recommend that you only remove one or two of your wisdom teeth or that you remove all four just to be safe.
Depending on the removal process needed, your dentist will give you local or general anesthesia, or they may sedate you. No matter what type of numbing mechanism you receive, it’s worth noting that you should not feel pain during the procedure. If the experience becomes painful, let your surgeon know at once.
Once the anesthesia has kicked in, your surgeon will use dental tools to loosen the tissue around your wisdom teeth. From there, they will be able to remove them with more ease. At times, it may be necessary to cut your teeth into multiple pieces to remove them.
After the teeth are removed, your dentist will stitch up the area and add gauze to the area, allowing the healing process to begin. Some stitches dissolve on their own, but others will need to be removed at a later appointment.
What to Expect From the Recovery Process
Though wisdom teeth surgery sometimes gets a bad reputation as a painful experience with a long recovery, the truth is that most people take just a few days to recover. Here’s what to expect after getting your wisdom teeth removed.
Specific experiences may vary, but in most cases, the pain tends to taper off in a day or two. Your orthodontist may prescribe prescription-strength painkillers as needed, but most patients only need over-the-counter medicines.
During the first day or so after your wisdom teeth removal, you may experience bleeding as the wound starts to clot. This is normal.
To keep the clot from dislodging (thus starting the healing process over again), your dentist will advise you not to spit or drink through a straw.
Eating and Drinking
You can eat and drink right after your surgery, but it’s important to choose the right foods. For at least the first day after surgery, make sure to stick to softer foods that aren’t too hot. Knowing what to eat after wisdom teeth removal can mean the difference between an easy recovery and a painful one.
For the first day or so following the surgery, you should aim to do little to no physical activity. Many people choose to schedule their wisdom teeth removal toward the end of the workweek for this reason, as it gives them the weekend to recover.
In the days following your surgery, according to the advice of your dentist, you can resume normal physical activity. However, be sure to avoid strenuous exercise, as this can dislodge the clot forming in your mouth.
Proper Oral Health Habits
Make sure you stick to proper tooth health habits, like brushing and flossing as necessary. Just be sure to be gentle around your stitches, and avoid spitting, rinsing, or using mouthwash.
In addition, if you smoke or use tobacco products, you’ll need to wait at least 72 hours after surgery before resuming.
Don’t Stress About Your Wisdom Teeth Removal
At the end of the day, wisdom teeth removal is a common surgical procedure, and as long as you follow your dentist’s instructions, you should have no problem with the recovery process. If you’re dealing with the pain and stress of impacted wisdom teeth, don’t hesitate to reach out for an orthodontist appointment as soon as possible!
Do you want more of the critical health tips you need to know? Check out our other posts for additional helpful guides.
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