Wisdom teeth are the four permanent adult teeth located in the back corners of your mouth, both top and bottom. Extracting these teeth is usually necessary, especially when the teeth are impacted.
What is an impacted wisdom tooth?
If a wisdom tooth doesn’t have enough room to grow it can start to move in the wrong direction, resulting in pain, infection, or other dental issues. More than likely, an impacted wisdom tooth will need to be surgically extracted.
Is wisdom tooth extraction always necessary?
Many dentists and oral surgeons will recommend that wisdom teeth be removed even if the impacted teeth are not causing any problems. Early wisdom tooth removal is seen as a preventive measure against potential problems in the future.
What can I expect after wisdom tooth extraction?
Having your wisdom teeth removed can be a serious surgical procedure, or it can be a relatively simple one. It all depends on the condition of the teeth and their position in the mouth. Either way, post-operative care is very important.
Immediately following surgery, gauze pads are placed over the surgical areas and remain in place for the first hour. If bleeding persists after an hour, new gauze pads can be placed with bite pressure applied over the surgical site. When gauze pads become saturated with blood they should be replaced, but once it subsides gauze pads are no longer necessary. It is normal for slow oozing of blood to persist for up to 48 hours after surgery.
How to prevent complications
In order to prevent the re-occurrence of bleeding, avoid vigorous mouth rinsing or touching the wound. The dentist will also recommend that patients avoid smoking or drinking from straws. It is important that the blood clot remains in place as it is forming and does not become dislodged. If an antibiotic mouth rinse is prescribed, begin using this on the day after surgery.
Remember to restrict your activities and avoid vigorous exercise on the day of surgery, and only resume these activities as instructed by our office. Always take prescribed pain medications as soon as you begin to feel pain. This usually coincides with the local anesthetic wearing off. A stronger pain reliever may be prescribed for the first few days. Place ice packs to the sides of your face where surgery was performed.
Facial swelling is typically associated with wisdom tooth extraction, but the swelling is usually proportional to the surgery involved. If the teeth were severely impacted, the swelling will be worse than a simple extraction. After a surgical extraction, swelling will occur around the mouth, cheeks, eyes and the sides of the face. It may not be apparent immediately after surgery, but expect swelling to reach its peak around 2 to 3 days after surgery.
Swelling can be minimized when ice packs are used immediately after surgery and applied to the side(s) of the face where surgery was performed. However, they should only be used for 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off on the day of surgery. After you pass the 24 hour mark, ice will have no beneficial effect on swelling but it may help control pain. Expect to have some swelling and jaw stiffness for about 7 to 14 days, with limited capacity for mouth opening during that time. This is a normal response to surgery.
Pain after Wisdom Tooth Removal
Post-operative pain peaks at 3 to 5 days after surgery, but after that it will subside more and more each day. However, post-operative pain can last up to 14 days. When pain is mild to moderate, take two Tylenol every three to four hours or two Ibuprofen tablets every four to six hours. Severe pain should be treated with prescription pain relievers such as Motrin 800 or a stronger medication. Prescribed pain medication can make you feel groggy, so avoid driving or operating machinery. Alcoholic beverages should also be avoided.
Follow the post-surgical instructions after wisdom teeth are extracted, keeping in mind that no two mouths are the same. Some patients may experience a prolonged recovery with significant pain, but most people heal quickly with little or no pain. If you have any concerns about your healing call our office.