The removal of wisdom teeth has become so commonplace that it is almost a rite of passage for young adults. Wisdom teeth are a type of molar that is found in the very back of your mouth. There are four wisdom teeth: upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right. These teeth usually appear in late teens or early twenties but may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. The most common type of impacted wisdom tooth is “mesial”, meaning that the tooth is angled forward toward the front of your mouth.
When a tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed. If it is not removed, you may develop gum tenderness, swelling, or even severe pain. Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully erupted tend to be quite difficult to clean and are susceptible to tooth decay, recurring infections, and even gum disease.
In order to remove a wisdom tooth, your dentist first needs access to it. To make this process most comfortable, your dentist will numb the area with a local anesthetic. Your dentist can even use additional medication to safely sedate you during the extraction if you are feeling nervous about the procedure. Because the impacted tooth is frequently under the gums and still encased in your jaw bone, your dentist will need to remove a portion of the covering bone to extract the tooth. To minimize the amount of bone that must be removed, your dentist will often “section” your wisdom tooth so that each section can be removed through a small opening in the bone.
What To Expect After Surgery
In most cases, the recovery period lasts only a few days. Take painkillers as prescribed by your dentist or oral surgeon. The following tips will help speed your recovery.
- Bite gently on the gauze pad periodically, and change pads as they become soaked with blood. Call your dentist or oral surgeon if you still have bleeding 24 hours after your surgery.
- While your mouth is numb, be careful not to bite the inside of your cheek or lip, or your tongue.
- Do not lie flat. This may prolong bleeding. Prop up your head with pillows.
- Try using an ice pack on the outside of your cheek for the first 24 hours. You can use moist heat-such as a washcloth soaked in warm water and wrung out-for the following 2 or 3 days.
- Relax after surgery. Physical activity may increase bleeding.
- Eat soft foods, such as gelatin, pudding, or a thin soup. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as healing progresses.
- Do not use a straw for the first few days. Sucking on a straw can loosen the blood clot and delay healing.
- After the first day, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times a day to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
- Do not smoke for at least 24 hours after your surgery. The sucking motion can loosen the clot and delay healing. In addition, smoking decreases the blood supply and can bring germs and contaminants to the surgery area official site.
- Avoid rubbing the area with your tongue or touching it with your fingers.
- Continue to brush your teeth and tongue carefully.
Your dentist will remove the stitches after a few days, if needed.