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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 what are the reasons for taking them out?

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that may be impacted and grow so far back in your mouth, preventing other teeth from coming in normally. Wisdom teeth may also be painful when they get trapped in your jawbone and gums. They can press against other teeth and also cause pain, or they may simply be too big for your mouth to accommodate (what with all your other teeth). Because of their position, they may also be hard to clean with a toothbrush or dental floss, which means you have greater chances of developing gum disease or cavities.

Before Surgery

Before performing the procedure, your oral surgeon will explain the process to you. At your first appointment, mention all health issues you’ve had in the past as well as those you have in the present, including any drugs you might be taking on a regular basis. Create a plan for the day of your surgery and the next few days, which you are to spend resting. Set up child care or pet care as needed, and arrange a ride home after the extraction.

During Surgery

Wisdom tooth removals typically last a maximum of 45 minutes. You will usually have to choose any of three options for anesthesia – local (makes you numb around the mouth), IV sedation (makes you numb around the mouth, and sleepy too), and general anesthesia (you’ll be asleep throughout the extraction). It’s also possible that your surgeon will cut some gum or bone in order to extract the tooth before stitching the wounds close for faster healing (the stitches usually dissolve in a few days). He may use gauze pads as well for soaking up blood as he performs the procedure.

After Surgery

People respond to anesthesia in different ways. If you had a local anesthetic and feel upbeat as usual, you may be allowed to drive yourself home after the extraction. You can probably even go back to work or do your normal activities immediately. Of course, it’s different when you had IV sedation or general anesthesia – you’ll have to rely on someone else to bring 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. Finally, do as your surgeon says, whether it’s eating soft foods like pasta and rice, avoiding smoking (which delays recovery), or drinking lots of fluids.

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