Also known as the third molars, wisdom teeth usually come through during your late teens and early adulthood. As they tend to be the last permanent teeth to come through, there is often not enough room left to accommodate them. This can result in the teeth becoming ‘wedged ‘ or ‘impacted,’ leading to problems such as infection, inflammation, tooth decay, jaw stiffness, swollen or tender gums and a general feeling of being unwell. In some situations, a cyst may also form around the impacted tooth, which can damage or destroy the surrounding tissue. Sometimes this can be treated with root canal therapy, but more often than not, the removal of the tooth is the optimal long-term solution.
When it comes to the removal of any tooth, let alone the wisdom teeth, people often flooded with mental images of blood, pain and lots of discomfort, but this is simply not the case. These days,’ teeth extractions can be done in the dentist chair and are usually a simple, straightforward and painless procedure.
Before pulling the wisdom tooth out, your dentist will numb the tooth and surrounding gum using a local anaesthetic. If you are feeling particularly nervous or having multiple teeth taken out you may wish be placed under general anaesthetic at an extra cost. During the procedure, we will use special forceps to grasp and loosen the tooth in a circular motion. Sometimes teeth can break as they are being pulled out and will need to be removed in pieces.
Although you won’t be able to feel any pain during the procedure, unfortunately we cannot prevent you from feeling sensation and any sounds associated with the wisdom tooth removal. Once the wisdom tooth has been removed, we place a sterile gauze pillow in the socket to help enable a blood clot to form.
During the healing process, blood clots can sometimes become dislodged, leaving the nerve exposed to air, food and fluid. This is called a dry socket and it can be quite painful. If this occurs, a sedative dressing is placed over the socket for a few days to help protect it and enable a new blood clot to form.
In the next 24-72 hours following your extraction and once the anaesthetic wears off, you may experience some pain and discomfort, which is completely normal. Taking over-the-counter pain relief such as Panadol and Nurofen can help to minimise the pain as the mouth heals.
The length of recovery time for wisdom teeth removal does vary from person to person, however you should start to feel back to normal anywhere from three-four days up to a week or more. During this time, there are plenty of ways to help make your wisdom teeth removal recovery time easier. Here are some of our wisdom teeth removal recovery tips which you can use in the first few days following your procedure:
- While your gums are still healing, try to avoid consuming solid foods, alcohol, soft drinks or hot beverages. Puddings, jellies, soft cereals and mashed veggies are all good meal choices for the first 24 hours. Ensure that you drink lots of lukewarm water or cold fluids to stay hydrated during the healing process.
- Although you can still brush your teeth, try to avoid touching the wisdom tooth extraction site.
- After 24 hours following your procedure, you should commence gentle salt water rinses to help keep your mouth and the extraction site free from bacteria or any other build up.
- Try placing an ice pack or bag of frozen peas on the outside of your mouth intermittently for up to two days to help minimise any facial swelling, tenderness or discomfort.
- Do not exercise for the first few days following your wisdom tooth extraction. It is important that you rest and take care not to dislodge the blood clot that forms where your tooth / teeth were removed.
While some bleeding, swelling and pain and discomfort are all to be expected during the healing process, you should always contact your dentist if you experience any of the following:
- Facial or gum swelling that you believe is getting worse, rather than better
- Excessive bleeding that will not subside with pressure or gauze
- Severe pain that continues a few days after the surgery
- Pus or discharge from the wisdom tooth extraction site
- Fever or elevated temperatures following the procedure
Depending on the size of your jaw and the way your wisdom teeth come through, it is important to remember that you may never experience any pain or discomfort with your wisdom teeth. The best way to determine whether you will need your wisdom teeth removed is visit your dentist for an evaluation. At your appointment, we will review your dental history, take any necessary photographs or X-rays and examine your mouth and wisdom teeth. If we recommend the removal of some or all of your wisdom teeth, we will then discuss with you the procedure, any risks or complications and what you can expect after they have been removed.
You can read more about wisdom teeth extractions here.
If you’re having problems with your wisdom teeth or would simply like them checked, simply give us a call on 08 9440 4455 or request an appointment with one of our friendly dental professionals today.