Wisdom Teeth Removal: All Things You Need to Know

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Did you know that your wisdom teeth can impact your oral health in a number of ways? Wisdom teeth or molars are the third and last set of adult teeth most people get in their late teens or early twenties. While some individuals have no problems with their wisdom teeth and they come in just fine, others may experience pain, crowding, or other issues requiring removal.

If you are considering wisdom teeth extraction, there are things you should be aware of. This article will discuss important facts about wisdom teeth removal, including what to expect before and after the procedure.

What Is Wisdom Teeth Removal?

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Wisdom teeth removal is a common and outpatient dental procedure performed by a qualified dentist or oral surgeon in a dental clinic, involving removing one or more wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are four teeth most people get between the ages of 17 and 25. Some get them later in life; others get just one, two, or three wisdom teeth; some don’t get any at all.

Studies show wisdom teeth don’t need extraction if they are properly aligned and cause no problems. However, if you are experiencing oral problems due to your wisdom teeth, you may need to have them removed by your dentist.

Why Do You Need to Have Them Removed?

You may need wisdom tooth extractions for several reasons. Some of the most common include:

  • Impacted wisdom teeth:
    This is a condition wherein your wisdom teeth cannot break through the gum tissue due to lack of space. Normally, your wisdom tooth should erupt through the gum line at a 90-degree angle. However, if there isn’t enough space, it may erupt at an angle, causing it to become impacted. Impacted teeth can cause pain, crowding, and other problems.

  • Crowding:
    If your wisdom teeth come in without enough space, they may push on your other teeth and cause them to become crooked or crowded. Because crowded teeth are more difficult to clean, it can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

  • Tooth decay:
    Because of their position in the mouth, wisdom teeth can be challenging to brush and floss properly. If bacteria isn’t removed, it can damage the tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay.

  • Cysts:
    Fluid-filled sacs can form around impacted wisdom teeth. These cysts can damage the roots of nearby teeth and destroy the jawbone.

  • Gum Disease:
    This can result from an impacted wisdom tooth because food particles and bacteria can get trapped in the gum tissue, leading to an infection. This condition is known as pericoronitis, and it can manifest as bleeding, swollen, and tender gums near your wisdom tooth.

  • Damage to nearby teeth:
    Without enough room, wisdom teeth can continue to push against nearby teeth and damage them. They can also cause the neighbouring teeth to develop an infection or decay.

  • Wisdom tooth abscess:
    An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms around a tooth. It is caused by bacteria that have entered your wisdom teeth or gums. A dental abscess can be very painful and cause damage to the surrounding teeth.

What Are the Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Infection?

There are a few signs and symptoms that may indicate that you have an infection in your wisdom teeth. These include:

  • Pain:
    You may experience pain around your wisdom teeth or jaw. The pain may worsen when you eat, brush your teeth, or open your mouth wide.

  • Swelling:
    You may notice swelling in your gums or jaw.

  • Redness:
    The gums around your wisdom teeth may appear red and inflamed.

  • Bad taste or bad breath:
    You may notice a bad taste or a foul smell coming from your mouth if you have an infection.

  • Difficulty opening mouth:
    You may find it difficult to open your mouth if the infection is causing swelling in your jaw.

The Ideal Time for Wisdom Tooth Removal

Everyone’s case is different because wisdom teeth grow and develop at different rates. Generally, the ideal time to remove your wisdom teeth is between the ages of 17 and 25. This is because the roots are not fully developed, and the surgery is less complicated. Once they have erupted, the procedure becomes more complex.

When your wisdom teeth are also likely to cause problems, your dentist may recommend that they be removed early on. This is a preventive measure to avoid any future complications and to help you maintain good oral health.

Sometimes, wisdom teeth cause pain during pregnancy that cannot be postponed until a woman gives birth. In this case, the procedure can be done safely during pregnancy. Also, if you are considering Invisalign or braces, it is best to have your wisdom teeth removed at least two weeks after the surgery site has completely healed. Wisdom teeth can cause crowding and disrupt the alignment of your teeth.

Is Getting Your Wisdom Teeth Removed Painful?

While your dentist performs the surgery, you won’t feel any pain because you will be given anaesthetics to numb the area. However, it’s normal to feel pressure while they remove your teeth. There are anaesthesia options available, especially for those anxious about removing their wisdom teeth. These include:

  • Local anesthesia:
    It numbs the area around your wisdom teeth, and you are awake and conscious throughout the process, but you will not feel any pain. This is usually used for simple extractions.

  • Nitrous oxide sedation:
    Also called “laughing gas”, this is a mild sedative that is inhaled through a mask. It relaxes you and eases any anxiety you may feel. Laughing gas anaesthesia doesn’t put you to sleep, but you may not remember much of your surgery afterwards.

  • IV sedation:
    This type of anaesthesia is given through an IV in your arm that relaxes you and eases anxiety. Like with nitrous oxide sedatives, you are not asleep during the procedure but may not remember much of it afterwards.

  • General anesthesia:
    This is a type of sedative that puts you to sleep for the duration of the procedure. It is usually used for more complex cases.

After the procedure, you may experience some soreness, tenderness, and pain in your gums, jaw, and face, which are all normal and should go away within a few days.

To help with the pain, you can take over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You may also have some swelling after the surgery, which can be alleviated by using ice packs on your face for 20 minutes at a time. It’s important to note that the sedatives will also make you groggy, so be sure not to drive and have someone take you home.

How Do You Prepare for Wisdom Teeth Removal?

There are things you need to do to prepare for wisdom teeth extraction, such as:

  • Arrange for a ride home:
    You cannot drive after the procedure because you will still feel groggy due to the anaesthesia. If you will be receiving sedatives or general anaesthesia, have someone drive you home after your surgery to ensure your safety and that of other people on the road.

  • Take the pre-operative medications:
    You may be given a list of medications to take the night before or the morning of your surgery. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully, so the procedure goes smoothly.

  • Stock on soft food beforehand:
    After your surgery, you will not be able to eat solid food for a few days. Stock up on enough soft foods such as soup, mashed potatoes, and yoghurt that you can eat after your surgery.

  • Fill any prescriptions:
    If the dentist prescribes any antibiotics or pain medication, make sure to fill the prescription before your surgery, so you have it on hand afterwards.

  • Wear comfortable clothes:
    You will want to wear loose, comfortable clothing on the day of your surgery to avoid putting any pressure on your face.

  • Prepare for recovery:
    Have everything you need for recovery, such as ice packs, pain medication, and soft foods, ready before your surgery so you don’t have to worry about it.

  • Schedule your surgery at a time when you can rest a few days:
    You will need to take it easy for the first few days after your surgery, so make sure to schedule your surgery for a time when you can relax.

  • Check with your health fund provider:
    Wisdom teeth removal is usually covered by health insurance, but it’s best to check with your provider early on to see how much coverage you have.

  • Don’t drink alcohol or smoke before surgery:
    Alcohol and smoking can interfere with the anaesthesia and increase your risk of complications. To be safe, avoid consuming these substances for at least 24 to 48 hours before your surgery.

What Does the Procedure Involve?

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Below is a summary of what you can expect during your surgery:

  1. Once you arrive at the dentist’s office or surgical centre, you will be given anaesthesia to numb the area around your wisdom teeth, including other sedatives, depending on your preference.

  2. The dentist will then make an incision in your gums to access your wisdom teeth.

  3. Depending on your case, your dentist may need to remove some jaw bones for easier removal of your wisdom teeth.

  4. The wisdom teeth are then removed by breaking them into smaller pieces and taking them out piece by piece. After the teeth are extracted, the area is cleaned, and any remaining debris is removed.

  5. Your gums are then stitched up, and a gauze pad is placed over the site to help stop the bleeding.

  6. They will take you to a recovery room, where you will be monitored for any complications from the anaesthesia. You can go home once the effect of the anaesthesia wears off.

  7. You will then be given aftercare instructions, which you should follow closely. Your dentist will also prescribe medications and schedule a follow-up appointment to check that the extraction site is healing properly.

What Happens After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Before you go home, your dentist will provide you with specific after-care instructions. You can expect the following to occur:

  • Swelling:
    You will have some swelling on your cheeks and mouth after your surgery, which can be alleviated by using ice packs on your face for 20 minutes at a time. This usually goes away after 2 to 3 days.

  • Pain:
    You may also experience some soreness, tenderness, and pain in your gums, jaw, and face, which resolves on its own in 7 to 10 days. To help with the pain, your dentist will prescribe pain medication that you can take as needed.

  • Some bleeding:
    It is normal to experience some bleeding immediately after your surgery, which you can control by biting on a cotton or gauze pad. There may also be some oozing for a few days.

  • Nausea:
    You may feel nauseous after surgery due to the sedative, but this usually goes away within a few hours.

  • Stitches:
    If you have stitches, they will dissolve on their own within a week or two. If your dentist puts in non-dissolvable stitches, they will remove them at your follow-up appointment.

  • Follow-up appointment:
    You need to see your dentist for a follow-up check-up 1 to 2 weeks after your wisdom tooth extraction to ensure that you’re healing properly.

What Complications Can Occur?

Wisdom tooth removal is generally a safe procedure, but as with any surgery, some potential risks and complications can occur. These include:

Infection

You must take antibiotics to clear the infection if the extraction site becomes infected. This usually occurs due to bacteria in your mouth coming into contact with the open wound.

Signs include:

  • Fever
  • Increased pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness around the extraction site
  • Pus coming from the site
  • Bad taste in your mouth

Dry socket

This is a condition that can occur when the blood clot that forms in the extraction site breaks down or dissolves too early. This can leave the exposed bone vulnerable to infection.

Signs of dry socket include:

  • Severe pain that can begin 1 to 3 days after surgery
  • Visible bone in the extraction site
  • Foul-smelling breath

Nerve damage

There is potential nerve damage in your jaw, which can cause numbness, tingling, and pain. This often resolves on its own within a few months, but in rare cases, it may require surgery to fix.

Prolonged Bleeding

It’s normal to have some bleeding after having your wisdom teeth removed. However, heavy bleeding and bleeding that lasts longer than five days may be signs of a problem, and you should contact your dentist.

How Fast Do You Recover After Surgery?

Most people take 3 to 5 days off from work or school to recover from wisdom teeth removal surgery. You should take it easy at this time and not do any strenuous activity, so you don’t disrupt the healing process.

The following is a timeline of what you can expect during your recovery:

  • Day 1:
    The day after your surgery, you can expect swelling, bleeding, pain, and tenderness around your gums, jaw, and face. Ice packs can help with the swelling. Also, a blood clot starts to form at the extraction site.

  • Day 2-3:
    The swelling begins to go down, and the pain starts to lessen. You may also see some bruising around your face.

  • Day 4-7:
    The swelling and pain should be almost gone by now. You may still see some bruising, but it should start to fade.

  • Day 7-10:
    You should be feeling back to normal by now. The bruising should be gone, and the extraction site should start healing.

  • Week 2:
    Two weeks after your wisdom teeth extraction, you should be able to do your daily activities normally. Also, you need to see your dentist at this time for a follow-up appointment to ensure you’re healing properly.

What to Avoid During Recovery?

There are things you should and should not do to prevent any complications during the first few days following your surgery. Below is a list of these things:

  • Start brushing your teeth a day after the procedure:
    Oral hygiene is vital to prevent infection. You may start brushing your teeth normally the next day, avoiding the surgery site to avoid irritation.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush:
    You should continue using a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid irritating your gums as they heal.

  • Gentle rinsing:
    24 hours after the surgery, you may start rinsing your mouth with a cup of lukewarm water mixed with salt. You may do this 3 to 4 times a day for the next week.

  • Avoid drinking through a straw:
    Sucking on a straw can dislodge the blood clot that forms at the surgery site and delay healing.

  • Avoid smoking:
    Smoking can cause complications, including infection, dry socket, and impaired healing. If you smoke, it’s best to avoid it before and after your surgery or consider quitting for your overall dental health.

  • Avoid strenuous physical activities:
    Strenuous activities can increase blood pressure and cause bleeding at the surgical site. Avoid these for at least 24 to 48 hours after your surgery.

  • Take it easy:
    In general, you should relax and rest as much as possible for the first 24 hours (or 48 hours if possible) after your surgery.

  • Monitor the surgical site:
    You should check the site of your surgery for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus. Contact your oral surgeon or dentist immediately if you experience any of these signs.

  • Avoid hard, crunchy, and spicy food:
    Eating hard, crunchy, or spicy foods can irritate your surgery site and delay healing. Make sure to consume soft food for the first few days after your surgery.

  • Avoid overly cold and hot foods and beverages:
    For the first week after surgery, avoid extremely cold or hot foods and drinks, as they can cause discomfort or even pain. Choose lukewarm or room-temperature options instead.

What Kind of Food Can You Eat After Wisdom Tooth Removal?

You need to eat soft foods for the first few days after your surgery, such as:

  • Soup
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Ice cream

As you start to feel better, you can slowly add other soft foods back into your diet, such as:

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Cooked vegetables

How Much Does Wisdom Teeth Removal Cost?

The cost of wisdom teeth surgery varies depending on various factors, such as:

  • Number of teeth being removed
  • Type of anaesthesia used
  • Whether you have insurance
  • Your location and the dentist
  • The complexity of your case

However, you can expect to pay up to $2,322 to have all four wisdom teeth removed. The cost is higher under general anaesthesia, which can be between $1,500 and $3,000 per tooth. However, this is just an estimate, and the actual fees vary individually. You should always ask your dentist for an estimate before the procedure.

In Conclusion

Wisdom teeth removal is a common surgical procedure in dentistry that is generally safe if done by a qualified dentist. In general, you don’t need a wisdom tooth extraction if they are not causing any problems. However, if they are impacted, causing pain or likely to cause issues, you may need to have them removed.

Recovery from wisdom teeth surgery takes a few days to a week, and you need to eat soft foods during this time. Some complications, such as infection, dry tooth socket, nerve damage, and bleeding, may also potentially occur. Overall, wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure with a low risk of complications.

Are you considering wisdom teeth removal but have more concerns? Contact us at 08 9532 0247 to schedule an appointment, and we’d be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. Byford Smiles has had a team of friendly and compassionate dentists performing wisdom teeth removal for many years. During your consultation, we sit down with you and take the time to make you understand the procedure and what to expect afterwards. We offer a few sedation options to help you relax during the procedure, especially if you have dental anxiety. We also accept different payment plan options and all health fund providers.

 

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