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Wisdom Tooth Removal: What You Should Expect

When your dentist says it’s time to extract your wisdom teeth, he may refer you to an oral surgeon who will perform the procedure. But why must they be removed in the first place?

Wisdom teeth are extra molars that may be impacted and grow too far back into your mouth that they cause issues with normal tooth positioning. Wisdom teeth may also be trapped in your gums or jawbone, and that can seriously hurt. They may also painfully push against other teeth or simply be too large for your mouth to handle (considering you already have your other teeth to begin with). Another reason is that they can increase the likelihood of cavities or gum disease since they are usually difficult to reach with a toothbrush or dental floss.

Before Surgery

Prior to the surgery, your oral surgeon will thoroughly explain how the process goes. During this first consultation, be sure to mention all health issues you have, if any, as well as any drugs you take on a regular basis. Plan time off from work or school for your surgery, including days of rest after the procedure. Find someone to drive you home after the surgery, and don’t forget to arrange child care or pet care as needed.

During Surgery

The usual time it takes to remove wisdom teeth is around 45 minutes or less. Your surgeon will probably make you choose between local anesthesia, which numbs your mouth; IV sedation, which numbs your mouth and makes you sleepy; and general anesthesia, which will put you to sleep all throughout the procedure. To get the tooth out, your surgeon may cut gum or bone as well before stitching up the wounds for quicker healing (it typically takes a few days for the stitches to dissolve). To soak up some of the blood during surgery, he may stuff gauze pads in your mouth too.

After Surgery

People respond to anesthesia in different ways. If you received local anesthesia, it’s likely that your surgeon will let you drive yourself home. You may even be able to resume your daily routine right away. Clearly, if you had IV sedation or general anesthesia, you’ll want a family member or friend to take you home.

You may or may not also feel pain following surgery, but there is likely to be swelling and a little discomfort for the next three or so days. Sometimes, it takes an entire week for your mouth to heal. Lastly, do as your dentist says, whether he wants you to use an ice pack to relieve swelling, apply moist heat to relieve a sore jaw, or rinse your mouth very gently.

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