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Wisdom Teeth Extraction – What To Expect

Written by Courteney

Posted on September 8, 2016 at 12:49 am


Has your dentist recommended you have your wisdom teeth removed? You’re not alone, approximately 5 million Americans undergo the surgical removal of one or more wisdom teeth annually. These teeth commonly begin to grow or become problematic between the late teens and early twenties. So what can you expect from the procedure? What post-procedure complications may arise? What kind of post-care is necessary to help ensure a smooth recovery? Let’s take a look!

Why Do We Need To Lose These Teeth?

Common reasons for wisdom teeth removal are:

  • An impacted tooth (one that is partially trapped in the gums or blocked by another tooth and can’t fully erupt through). This can lead to infections as food can get trapped in the gums around partially showing wisdom tooth.
  • Wisdom teeth that are growing crooked or growing into another tooth need to be removed
  • Or teeth that are crowding the mouth and misaligning their ivory neighbors.

A dentist may also recommend wisdom tooth extraction as a preventative measure for a person suffering autoimmune issues, or those with gum conditions such as periodontitis who may have higher risk of experiencing infections or complications down the line if wisdom teeth remain.

How Will the Procedure Go Down?

Your dentist or oral surgeon will administer one of the following methods of sedation:

  1. Nitrous oxide (also known as ‘laughing gas’) via face-mask plus local anesthetic.
  2. Conscious sedation is a method whereby an IV containing various calmative medications which will partially sedate you but you will remain consciously oblivious throughout the procedure.
  3. General anesthetic – this method is not as commonly used for wisdom teeth extraction as it comes with more potential risks and side effects than the other two, but in some cases the person will be ‘put under’ using general anesthetic for their surgery.

Your surgeon will then proceed to open up the gums surrounded the target teeth, exposing the tooth and bone beneath. He or she will then divide the teeth into sections and remove them, finishing the procedure by cleaning out the site and stitching the area closed to heal.

What Post-Surgical Complications Can Arise?

Potential post-surgical risks of wisdom tooth extraction include:

  1. An infection may occur in the extraction site, marked by a white or yellow discharge, temperature and pain and swelling.
  2. Dry socket – happens when the blood clot that is forming to help protect and heal the site becomes dislodged, leaving the bone exposed. This condition can be very painful, sometimes causing throbbing up the jaw or even around the ear, it can also cause a bad taste or smell to emanate from the mouth.
  3. Nerve problems – a rare complication of wisdom tooth extraction is temporary or permanent nerve damage that may cause such symptoms as facial pain, tingling or numbness.
  4. Pieces of tooth left behind – in rare instances, a small piece of tooth may have been left in the extraction site. Sometimes these small parts work themselves out without problems, but sometimes a dentist may need to reopen the stitches and remove a leftover piece of tooth.
  5. Healing problems for those with health issues – people with chronic health or immunocompromising conditions may heal much slower with more pain, swelling or bleeding than others.

What is Recovery Like?

Everyone is different, so wisdom tooth extraction recovery is not one-size-fits-all, but most people will experience some degree of pain, swelling, bruising and minor bleeding in the days following the surgery. To learn more about what to watch out for, when to see the doctor, tips to help recovery and good foods to eat following your surgery, stay posted for our next blog “Tips to Help Ease Wisdom Teeth Extraction Recovery’. Thanks for visiting DocChat!

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