Wisdom teeth removals are a common dental procedure, but many people still worry about needing this procedure. Like many things in life, the biggest fears tend to come from the unknown. Here at Accent Smile Center, we want you to feel confident in our care and empowered by any dental work you need! A big part of that is keeping you informed and educated about what you can expect before, during, and after your time in the chair. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what wisdom teeth are, why removal is sometimes necessary, and how that process works from start to finish! Keep reading below to learn more.
What are wisdom teeth? Why do we even have them?
As we grow through our teenage and young adult years, a final set of molars begins to form and appear. These wisdom teeth consist of two upper back teeth and two lower back teeth, and originate with our ancestors!
A very long time ago, humans mainly ate a diet built around coarse foods like nuts, roots, and meats. Large jaws were necessary to chew and digest all that tough stuff, but as our diet began to evolve, so did our jaws. Softer foods and a bigger variety of meals meant all that power was no longer needed, so our jaws became smaller over the years. As a result, many people don’t have enough room for their wisdom teeth to fit comfortably in their mouths anymore.
This isn’t true for everyone, of course. Our wisdom teeth grow in stages, and for many, the wisdom teeth will emerge in proper alignment with some slight tenderness at each stage. Others, however, suffer significant discomfort with each stage of eruption. Their wisdom teeth may grow to be so prominent that they crowd other teeth in the mouth, cause pain, or increase the risk of negative effects on the surrounding teeth or jawbone.
For these cases, an experienced dentist like Dr. Gatgens may recommend removing the wisdom teeth in order to relieve the discomfort and resolve any other issues. He might advise removing all of them in a single visit (even if they’re not all causing problems) or may advise separate visits for each side of the mouth. You’ll be able to discuss any questions you have about the procedure before it takes place, and our team will always ensure you have a complete understanding of what to expect about the extraction itself as well as the recovery period.
The removal process
Before your wisdom teeth are removed, we’ll take an x-ray of your mouth to get a good look at how large the teeth are, and where exactly they are located. Once you’re comfortable in the chair, we’ll administer a local anesthetic to your gums and all around the wisdom teeth to numb the area. We may also offer nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, to help keep you calm and relaxed. Intravenous sedation is also an option for some patients. This medication puts you all the way to sleep so you won’t feel a thing or be aware of what’s happening throughout the procedure.
We want this to be a stress-free experience for you, and most forms of sedation are the patient’s choice. If you’re nervous about a wisdom tooth removal, be sure to ask Dr. Gatgens what your sedation options are before scheduling an appointment for the procedure!
Once the area around the teeth is numb, Dr. Gatgens will cut through the surrounding tissue and bone and surgically remove your wisdom teeth. In many ways, this is very similar to having any other teeth pulled, but the wisdom teeth grow directly out of the jawbone so it can be a bit more intense than a standard tooth extraction. After the teeth are removed, Dr. Gatgens will thoroughly clean the socket and then stitch up the incisions so that the gums can heal.
Including recovery from anesthesia, the procedure may last anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours or so. Arrange time off from work or school in advance, as you’ll need at least a day to rest and heal. Have a plan in place for a ride home! You won’t be able to drive yourself and shouldn’t take public transportation after having your wisdom teeth removed.
The recovery period
After your wisdom teeth are removed, we’ll give you gauze to place in your mouth. This will help the empty sockets form a clot and promote healing. Seeing or tasting a small amount of blood in the first few days after the procedure is normal and nothing to worry about. This should resolve itself in 24-48 hours or so.
You’ll also be given a prescription for antibiotics and pain medication so you can fight off any potential infection and recover pain-free. If you’re still bleeding or feel significant pain after a few days, be sure to call our office and let us know! Dr. Gatgens will want to examine the area and ensure there’s no infection.
For the first couple of days after your procedure, you should avoid smoking or drinking anything through a straw. This can cause dry sockets to form, an extremely painful condition that happens when your mouth is unable to form a blood clot and heal. We recommend sticking to soft, cool foods like yogurt, pudding, and ice cream during this time as well. Try not to chew close to where your teeth have been removed until your mouth has completely healed.
The total average recovery time for a wisdom tooth removal is 5-7 days. Get as much rest during this time as possible, and avoid heavy exercise for at least 3-4 days. Keep your teeth clean, but take care to avoid brushing the back area of your mouth with a toothbrush so you don’t disturb the stitches. Once the healing process is complete, you should be able to return to eating and drinking normally without any pain or inflammation.
Trust your wisdom teeth to the experts at Accent Smile Center
Now that you know what to expect from a wisdom tooth removal, hopefully it won’t seem so frightening! Removing wisdom teeth can help prevent decay on the surrounding teeth, reduce your chances of developing periodontal disease, remove pressure on the adjacent teeth, and help you avoid any infection of the gum tissue covering the wisdom teeth. You’ll be in the best hands with our experienced team!
At Accent Smile Center, we go above and beyond to make the extraction process as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Our office uses the latest laser technology to reduce post-operative discomfort, help clots form more quickly, and cause less harm to the tissue and surrounding bone. If you have wisdom teeth that have been bothering you, get in touch today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Gatgens! We’ll be happy to take a look and let you know what your options are for a healthy and pain-free smile.