Wisdom Teeth Extraction Recovery Period
The procedure only takes about an hour and the wisdom teeth removal recovery lasts just a few days for most patients. The majority of adults — 85% to be exact — have their wisdom teeth extracted at some point during their lives.
Is Wisdom Tooth Extraction Really Necessary?
A bit like the appendix, wisdom teeth no longer serve a purpose as they did for our ancestors thousands of years ago.
This third set of molars generally erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. Since our mouths have evolved over time, there usually is not enough room in our mouths for our wisdom teeth. With too little space, wisdom teeth may come in at an angle and crowd the mouth, sometimes shifting the alignment of our teeth. Some just don’t fully emerge at all.
For many, they can cause problems such as pain and infections. Anyone who has experienced impacted wisdom teeth can verify the intense discomfort associated with their eruption.
What to Expect During Surgery
The American Dental Association recommends that patients have their mouth checked at age 20 for any signs of trouble from incoming wisdom teeth. Depending on the situation, a dentist or oral surgeon will schedule surgery to remove the teeth.
The dentist will use one of three types of anesthesia during the procedure so that you don’t feel any pain.
Local anesthesia will numb the extraction site with a series of injections and you will remain awake throughout the surgery.
Sedative anesthesia is administered via an IV in the arm and suppresses your consciousness during the procedure, giving you limited memory of the event. Your dentist will still apply local anesthesia.
General anesthesia puts you out completely through the use of an IV or breathing gas through a mask. The surgical team will monitor your vitals throughout the surgery and you may not wake up until an hour or so after the job is complete.
A friend or family member will have to pick you up if your dentist uses general or sedation anesthesia.
Caring for Yourself Post Surgery
The level of pain and duration for full recovery after a wisdom tooth removal varies among each patient. Some experience little to no pain, while others suffer for a few days afterward. For faster recovery, be sure to follow the instructions provided by your surgeon.
The first three days after surgery are the most important for recovery. A few ways to care for your sore mouth at home include:
Rest for the remainder of the day after your surgery. You can go back to most of your regular activities the following day, however avoid anything strenuous that could affect the blood clot in the socket.
Wait 24 hours after surgery to brush your teeth and rinse your mouth. When you do, brush gently to avoid dislodging the blood clot from the surgery site. You can gently swish salt water after meals or every two hours to keep the affected area clean after the 24-hour wait period.
If you experience bleeding or oozing the first day, avoid spitting or swishing, which can dislodge the blood clot. Replace the gauze as instructed by your dentist as needed.
Stick to a soft foods diet consisting of items like soup, smoothies, and applesauce. Avoid hot, spicy, hard, and chewy foods for several days. You can begin eating semi-soft foods as soon as you feel ready. Do not drink through a straw as doing so may loosen the blood clot.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages for the first 24 hours. If you smoke, refrain from smoking for 72 hours post-surgery.
Drink plenty of water in the days following your surgery.
If you experience pain and swelling, apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to your cheek and take the pain medication prescribed by your dentist.
If you notice any prolonged swelling, pain, bleeding, or fever, contact your surgeon right away as it could be a sign of infection.
If you live in Harrisburg, NC and have any questions about wisdom teeth removal, please don’t hesitate to call the friendly staff at Icard & Strein Family Dentistry at 704.659.5036 to schedule an appointment today.