A wisdom tooth extraction is a common dental procedure, but you may still have questions about what to expect before, during, and after your surgery.
Due to their location at the very back of your mouth, wisdom teeth are challenging to clean and susceptible to decay and infection. They can also cause overcrowding or gum inflammation if they erupt at an awkward angle.
If your wisdom teeth are causing oral health problems, your dentist may advise you to have one or more of them removed. Even healthy wisdom teeth can be removed as a preventative measure.
It is common to feel anxiety before undergoing wisdom tooth removal. Understanding what to expect during and after the wisdom tooth extraction procedure can help alleviate your concerns.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are your third set of molars that typically emerge between 16 and 25, up to 10 years after losing your last baby tooth. Their appearance at this more mature stage of life earned them their nickname, “wisdom teeth.”
Wisdom teeth served a vital function for prehistoric humans, helping us grind raw meat and tough vegetables. From an evolutionary perspective, we lost the need for them when we became farmers and began cooking our food. Today, our smaller jaws cannot accommodate the extra teeth, causing them to erupt abnormally or fail to emerge at all.
Types of Anesthesia for Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Anesthesia is a temporary loss of sensation induced by the help of medical drugs or anesthetics. Local or general anesthetics are typically used for wisdom tooth extraction.
- A local anesthetic is used for simple extractions and only numbs the area around the wisdom tooth. It is administered via injection, and you are awake and alert during the procedure.
- A general anesthetic is used for complex tooth extractions and is administered via inhalation. This medication causes you to lose consciousness for the duration of the procedure.
Anesthesia prevents you from feeling pain when your wisdom teeth are removed. It is a safe procedure, with most side effects being minor and temporary. Before your extraction, you should speak with your dentist to discuss which type of anesthetic might work best for you.
At TruBlu Dentistry, we use DentalVibe® to administer local anesthesia to minimize discomfort from the injection. The device emits vibrations that overstimulate the dental nerves, preventing your brain from detecting pain sensations.
Extracting Your Wisdom Tooth
The removal of your tooth will differ slightly depending on whether it has become impacted or stuck beneath the gum tissue. Worldwide, just over 24% of third molars suffer from impaction. If this is the case for you, your dentist will make an incision in the gum to access 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 need a simple extraction. The local anesthetic may cause you to feel pressure in your mouth as the dentist works on your tooth during the procedure, but there should not be any pain. The dentist will use a dental elevator to loosen the tooth in the socket, then use forceps to lift the tooth out.
What to Expect Post-Surgery
If the dentist made a cut in your gum during surgery, they would close it back up with dissolvable stitches. Your dentist will give you a time frame for when they will disappear, usually several days.
You will be provided with gauze to stop the bleeding and help promote the creation of a blood clot in your empty socket. Your dentist will instruct you on how to keep the gauze in place and how frequently you should change it.
If you were placed under general anesthesia, there would be some residual drowsiness, so you will have to arrange for someone to drive you home.
Your dentist will give you specific aftercare instructions for the first few days after your procedure. Generally, these include:
- Eating soft foods, such as smoothies or applesauce
- Avoiding alcohol or smoking
- Not drinking hot liquids, like tea and soup
- Avoiding the extraction area when brushing and flossing
- Refraining from strenuous physical activity because it can increase the bleeding
Post-surgery, you may experience tenderness or aching around the extraction area. This can be managed by applying an ice pack to your cheek and over-the-counter painkillers.
If you are unsure whether your wisdom teeth need attention, contact our team at TruBlu Dentistry to schedule a check-up. Our practice in Burbank can be reached at (708) 424-5650 and our Hegewisch practice by dialing (773) 646-4664.