Wisdom Teeth Removal
Introduction to Wisdom Teeth Removal
There isn’t always enough space in your mouth for the wisdom teeth to grow properly which causes them to get stuck or emerge at an angle. These teeth are known as impacted teeth.
What is Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Your wisdom teeth are the third set of molars you get in adulthood, usually much later than when the rest of your adult teeth come through. There isn’t always enough space in your mouth for the wisdom teeth to grow properly which causes them to get stuck or emerge at an angle. These teeth are known as impacted teeth. If you are experiencing severe pain from your wisdom teeth you should see your dentist and they will tell you whether they need to be removed. Impacted teeth might be removed if they cause tooth decay, gum disease, pericoronitis, cellulitis or abscesses.
What are wisdom teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are the four, third molars that develop at the back of the mouth in the corners, 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom row. Wisdom teeth may never erupt or they will normally erupt through the gums between the ages of 17 and 25.
How is Wisdom Teeth Removal performed?
The procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic injection and ranges from lasting a few minutes to 20 mins. If the tooth is still below the gum, the gum is cut to access it. The tooth might also be cut into smaller pieces to make it easier to remove. As the tooth is removed, the dentist/surgeon will move the tooth around the socket to widen the space during which time you may feel some pressure.
How to prepare for a Wisdom Teeth Removal?
There is nothing you need to do before the procedure but you might wish to read more about it or talk to your dentist/surgeon if you have any questions or concerns.
What happens after a Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Dissolving stitches are given to seal the gum. You may also have to bite on a piece of gauze around the extraction site to keep the pressure on it for up to an hour. You should avoid rinsing your mouth out with liquid, smoking, drinking alcohol, hot liquids or strenuous physical activity for 24 hours after your procedure. Recovery can take up to two weeks during which time there could be swelling, pain and a sore/stiff jaw.
If a local anaesthetic was used you can drive after the procedure.
Why would you have your wisdom teeth removed?
Wisdom teeth can cause issues if they become impacted, they can also cause other teeth to become crowded leading to other issues.
You may be recommended to have your wisdom teeth extracted due to:
- Impacted wisdom teeth or partially impacted wisdom teeth that have only been able to erupt partially through the gums
- Gums above the wisdom teeth are swollen, red and painful, indicating an infection may be present
- Overcrowding of other teeth that are being caused by the wisdom teeth
- A cyst has developed around the wisdom teeth
Should a dentist or oral surgeon remove wisdom teeth?
Simple wisdom tooth extraction with no anticipated complications can be performed by a dentist in a dental clinic.
Complicated wisdom teeth extraction is more likely to be done by an oral surgeon in a hospital and general anaesthetic may be recommended.
What happens during wisdom teeth removal surgery?
Wisdom teeth removal will normally be done with a local anaesthetic. When wisdom teeth extraction is complicated, it may be done with a general anaesthetic.
When a local anaesthetic is being used you may receive twilight (IV) sedation to help to remain calm. A numbing agent is applied onto the gums and local anaesthesia is injected into the gums around the wisdom teeth. You will not feel any pain, however, you may feel pressure when the wisdom teeth are extracted.
The procedure involves an incision in our gum to remove the tooth, which may be divided up into pieces, to make the process easier. Dissolvable sutures may be used to close the incision and gauze will then be placed over the site.
Will I be in pain after wisdom teeth removal?
Immediately after surgery, you may experience an unpleasant taste, numbness or tingling in your mouth, lips, tongue, and gums. You may be instructed to bite down onto the gauze placed over the excision to help blood clots to develop and fill the empty socket. Your gums and mouth will feel sore and you will likely have some bleeding from the site for the first day after surgery. You will have some swelling and bruising which can be eased by holding an icepack on your jaw, as directed by your dentist or surgeon. You may be prescribed prescription pain killers to help you manage the pain in the first 3 to 7 days.
How long does it take to recover after wisdom teeth removal?
For the first 24 hours after surgery, it is advisable to try not to move around too much to prevent bleeding. You should sleep with your head upright for the first 3 to 7 days after surgery to help to reduce swelling. The swelling will normally reduce significantly within 2 to 3 days of surgery. Bruising usually improves within the first 5 to 7 days although it may take up to 14 days before it completely disappears. When dissolvable sutures have been used, these will normally dissolve within 7 to 10 days
How do I prevent infection after wisdom teeth?
To help prevent infection, do not rub your incision sites with your tongue or touch the area with your fingers.
24 hours after surgery you will need to start to carefully rinse out your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash or warm water with salt. It is important to rinse the incision area gently to avoid dislodging blood clots which can then delay the healing process. You will need to do this regularly to help relieve pain, reduce swelling and help to prevent infection, as recommended by your dentist or surgeon.
When can I drink and eat after wisdom teeth removal?
You should start to sip water as soon as you can after surgery and continue to drink water regularly. Do not drink alcohol or anything hot, carbonated or drinks containing caffeine or sugar for a minimum of 48 hours. You should also avoid drinking with a straw for 7 days after surgery as the sucking action can dislodge blood clots which may delay healing and cause pain.
For the first 24 hours after wisdom teeth removal only eat soft food and avoid anything sugary. After 24 hours you should try to start eating semi-solid foods, avoiding anything hot, spicy, chewy or could get stuck in the socket such as sweetcorn. You should rinse out your mouth after eating to help prevent food from getting stuck and causing an infection.
When can I brush my teeth after wisdom teeth removal?
For the first 24 hours after wisdom teeth removal, you should not brush your teeth or use mouthwash or rinse out your mouth with water. You can then start to brush your teeth gently being careful around the incision sites to avoid irritating the wound or dislodge any blood clots.
Can I smoke after wisdom teeth removal?
Smoking after any type of surgery is not advisable as it can increase your risk of complications, infection and delay healing. If you do smoke then wait a minimum of 72 hours after surgery and do not use tobacco chewing gum or lozenges for a minimum of 7 days.
When can I return to normal activities and work after wisdom teeth removal?
After your surgery, plan to rest for the remainder of the day. Resume normal activities the next day, but for at least a week, avoid strenuous activity that might result in losing the blood clot from the socket. You should be able to return to work within 3 to 7 days, dependent on how much swelling and bruising you have.
When should you contact your dentist or surgeon after wisdom teeth removal?
Serious complications are rare after wisdom teeth removal, you should contact your dentist, surgeon or doctor if you experience:
- Pus or foul-smelling liquid coming from the incision site
- Pus, blood or foul-smelling discharge from your nose
- Unpleasant taste after 24 hours that persists after rinsing your mouth
- Numbness after the first 48 hours
- Increased bleeding or sudden excessive bleeding
- Increased swelling or pain
- High temperature
- Struggling with swallowing and, or breathing
What are the risks and complications of wisdom teeth removal?
- Persistent pain and swelling in the socket and, or gums
- Dry, painful socket
- Exposure of bone
- Nerve injury causing tingling or numbness in your mouth and or lips
- Pain when opening your jaw and, or restricted movement
- Damage to your other teeth or dental work, such as crowns
- Fracture to your jawbone and, or damage to your sinuses
What questions should you ask before wisdom teeth removal?
- How many wisdom teeth have you removed in the past 12 months?
- What are the risks and complications?
- How many patients had complications?
- How many wisdom teeth do I need to have removed?
- Will you use a local anesthetic or general anesthetic and why?
- Will I need any other dental treatments after having my wisdom teeth removed?
- How long will it take before I can return to normal daily activity and work?