Despite the fact that wisdom tooth extraction is a common dental procedure, you may have questions about what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.
Wisdom teeth are difficult to clean and, due to their location at the back of the mouth, are prone to decay and infection. They can cause crowding and gum inflammation if they erupt at an awkward angle.
If your wisdom teeth are causing you problems with your oral health, your Dentist Chapel Hill may recommend that you have one or more of them extracted. As a preventative measure, even healthy wisdom teeth can be extracted. It is common to experience anxiety before having wisdom teeth extracted. Understanding what to expect during and after wisdom tooth extraction can help allay your fears.
What Exactly Are Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are your third set of molars, which usually appear between the ages of 16 and 25, up to ten years after you lost your last baby tooth. Their appearance at this later stage of life earned them the moniker “wisdom teeth.”
Wisdom teeth were essential for prehistoric humans, allowing us to grind raw meat and tough vegetables. From an evolutionary standpoint, we lost the need for them when we started farming and cooking our food. Our smaller jaws can no longer accommodate the extra teeth, causing them to erupt abnormally or not at all.
Anesthesia Options for Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Anesthesia is a temporary loss of sensation caused by the administration of anaesthetics or medical drugs. Wisdom tooth extraction is typically performed under local or general anaesthesia.
For simple extractions, a local anaesthetic is used, which only numbs the area around the wisdom tooth. It is given by injection, and you are awake and alert throughout the procedure.
For complex tooth extractions, a general anaesthetic is administered via inhalation.
This medication causes you to become unconscious during the procedure.
When your wisdom teeth are extracted, anaesthesia will keep you from feeling any pain. It is a safe procedure, with the majority of side effects being minor and transient. Before your extraction, consult with your dentist to determine which type of anaesthetic will be most effective for you.
Getting Your Wisdom Tooth
The removal of your tooth will differ slightly depending on whether it has become impacted or is stuck beneath the gum tissue. Impaction affects roughly 24% of third molars worldwide. If this is the case for you, your dentist will make an incision in your gum to gain access to it. They may also need to remove a small piece of bone if it is covering the tooth.
If your wisdom tooth has erupted from the gums, you may only require a simple extraction. The local anaesthetic may cause pressure in your mouth as the dentist works on your tooth during the procedure, but there should be no pain. The dentist will use a dental elevator to loosen the teeth.
If your wisdom tooth has broken through the gums, a simple extraction may be all that is needed. While the dentist works on your tooth, the local anaesthetic may cause pressure in your mouth, but there should be no pain. Before removing the tooth with forceps, the dentist will use a dental elevator to loosen it in the socket.
What to Expect After Surgery
Dissolvable stitches would be used to close any cuts in your gums made during surgery. Your dentist will tell you how long it will take for them to disappear, which is usually several days.
Gauze will be given to you to help stop the bleeding and promote the formation of a blood clot in your empty socket. Your dentist will show you how to keep the gauze in place and how often to change it. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home if you were placed under general anaesthesia.
Instructions for Aftercare
For the first few days following your procedure, your dentist will provide you with specific aftercare instructions. In general, these are:
- Consuming soft foods like smoothies or applesauce
- Abstinence from alcohol and smoking
- Not drinking hot liquids such as tea or soup.
- Brushing and flossing should be done away from the extraction area.
- Avoiding vigorous exercise because it can worsen the bleeding
Tenderness or aching around the extraction site may occur after surgery. This can be treated with an ice pack on your cheek and over-the-counter pain relievers.
If you are unsure whether your wisdom teeth requires treatment, please contact Goodridge Family Dentistry to schedule an appointment. Call us at 919-968-9806.