What Happens during Wisdom Tooth Removal?

Do you need to have your wisdom teeth removed? As your third molars, you don’t actually need them to function or chew your food. If the tooth is completely erupted through the gums it can be pulled like any other tooth in the mouth. If it is still under the gums and embedded in the jawbone, it will need to be extracted by cutting into the gums, and then the part of the bone covering the tooth will need to be taken out. Typically, this is done in small pieces to reduce the amount of bone that will need to be removed.

First, the area will be numbed with a local anesthetic, just like any other tooth that is pulled. If you experience anxiety, you may be sedated. This could be by nitrous oxide, or pill to be taken by mouth, or even an injection into the veins. If you are having all four wisdom teeth removed, you will receive a general anesthetic which allows you to sleep through the procedure.

After the extraction, you may experience the following:

— You will likely bleed for a few hours afterwards. You may need to apply pressure placing a piece of clean, moist gauze over the empty tooth area and biting down firmly. It is not advisable to rinse or spit for approximately 24 hours after the extraction. You want the area to clot, so don’t drink hot liquids.

— You will likely experience swelling after the surgery, so to relieve the swelling in the face it will help to place an ice pack on the swelling site, ten minutes on, twenty minutes off, during the first 24 hours. After 24 hours you can switch to heat, placing a damp, warm towel 20 minutes on the site, 20 minutes off, as needed.

— You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve minor pain. You may be prescribed a stronger pain medication if necessary. You may also be prescribed antibiotics to treat any infection around the tooth.

— Until the numbness has worn off, you should consume a liquid diet, and for a few days afterwards a soft food diet that may include warm soup, smoothies, yogurt, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, or pasta.

— For the first 24 hours, you can brush your teeth, just not the ones nearest the extraction site.

— After 24 hours you can rinse your mouth with warm salt water after meals and before you go to sleep. Do not use over the counter mouth rinses, as they may irritate the healing site.

— If you have stitches, they may need to be removed after a week, unless they are self-dissolving. Within the first couple of weeks you will feel fairly comfortable again around the extraction area.

Having a wisdom tooth removed is a common procedure that you don’t have to fear. If you have any questions or need to be seen, please contact our Smiles Dental team at 360.200.6995!