xray of wisdom teeth before extractionThe wisdom teeth, or third set of molars, erupt in the late teens or early twenties for most people. Unfortunately, a lack of space on the back jaw means you need the wisdom teeth removed before they cause extensive damage. It’s only on rare occasions that they grow in properly aligned and have adequate gum tissue to support them. In most cases, the wisdom teeth grow in sideways and become impacted due to having no place to grow underneath the gum. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, approximately 90 percent of people over age 17 have at least one impacted wisdom tooth.

When wisdom teeth grow at an awkward angle, not extracting them can cause bacteria growth, severe pain, swelling, infection, and affect the alignment of other nearby teeth. While no one particularly enjoys wisdom teeth removal, you can take steps to make the process easier.

How to Prepare for Oral Surgery

Before the day of your appointment arrives, you should arrange for someone to drive you home and decide whether you prefer anesthesia or laughing gas for the procedure. With anesthesia, you need to take a dose of antibiotics before the appointment and not have anything to eat or drink for about six hours. You will sleep during the procedure. You remain awake when you receive laughing gas but don’t experience pain.

What to Expect When You Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

After checking in for your appointment at Southbridge Dentistry, you will receive the numbing agent you chose and relax in the dental chair for a short time while it takes effect. Your dentist then uses a tooth extraction instrument to disconnect and loosen gum tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth. The tooth usually comes out easily at this point but could require additional turning and pulling. You may receive stitches depending on the size of the opening. Our dental team will immediately place gauze over the extracted wisdom tooth area to control bleeding once your oral surgery is complete.

After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Be sure to take your prescription painkillers as directed to stay ahead of the pain and manage it better. To minimize puffiness and swelling, apply an ice pack to your cheeks and keep your head elevated as much as possible. The worst of the bruising and swelling occurs two to three days after wisdom teeth removal and typically doesn’t last more than a week. Keeping a gauze pad in your mouth for several hours after the procedure helps to control heavy bleeding. It may come and go over the first several days, so be sure to keep clean gauze pads handy.

Following a liquid diet for the first 24 hours will ultimately help the healing process go faster. However, it’s important to avoid sucking anything through a straw as this increases the chances of loosening the stitches and causing a blood clot. Yogurt, ice cream, fruit smoothies, and pudding are all good choices. After that, stick to soft foods such as scrambled eggs, pasta, and potatoes until the five-day mark. You should avoid chewing gum or any food that requires a lot of chewing.

Lastly, you will need to avoid rinsing your mouth for the first 24 hours. You can brush your teeth after that and clean your mouth with warm salt water if you wish. To learn more about wisdom teeth extraction or to schedule a consultation, please contact the Southbridge Dentistry office at 303-798-4967.