When your wisdom teeth become impacted, it can lead to serious health issues. Most dentists will recommend that they be surgically removed to prevent cysts, gum disease, and benign tumors from forming. As with any surgical process, you may be a little nervous and unsure of what to expect from the procedure. Below is a quick guide to take you through the process from surgical preparation through the recovery.
Preparing for Surgery
Once your dentist has determined your wisdom teeth are impacted, you will first have an appointment with an oral surgeon. During this visit, they will explain the process and also allow you to ask any questions regarding the procedure or the recovery process. They will then go over your personal health history and inquire about any medications that you are taking.
For your preparation, you will need to arrange for care for children or pets during your procedure, secure a ride to and from the appointment, and take a few days off work or school for the procedure and recovery.
The Day of Surgery
You can expect your procedure to take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour. In some cases, the teeth may be stubborn, and the surgery can run longer, but it rarely occurs. You will be under oral or IV sedation so you will feel no pain or discomfort during the procedure, nor will you be awake during the process. If you are anxious before the procedure or about the IV, you may be offered nitrous oxide. After the anesthesia has been administered, and the surgeon is sure you are asleep, they will use surgical tools to cut into your gums and extract the teeth. Once the teeth are successfully removed, your surgeon will put in dissolvable sutures to allow your gums to heal properly. Your mouth will then be packed with gauze to control the bleeding, and you will then be brought out of sedation.
Recovery and Aftercare
Right after surgery, you are likely to feel groggy and will experience some mild pain and swelling. Your surgeon will recommend medication to control the pain by either writing you a prescription or discussing over-the-counter medication to take. Driving will be restricted for 12 to 24 hours, so you will need to have a ride home and someone with you who can help you understand post-op instructions. The rest of the day, you should take it easy and rest when possible.
You will be able to eat immediately after your procedure but may not have much of an appetite as the anesthetic fully wears off. Stick to soft foods at first until most of the swelling goes down. Also, avoid hot foods as the gums where the teeth were removed will be sensitive. Avoid nuts, seeds, hard foods, and straws during the healing process to avoid damaging your stitches.
Follow all post-operative instructions on hygiene closely to avoid infection. You will need to avoid brushing your teeth, rinsing your mouth and flossing for the first 24 hours. Saltwater rinses are advised to aid healing and help with pain and can be started right away. Just be sure not to spit the solutions out as the suction can interfere with healing. Simply allow the solution to drip out of your mouth. Change the gauze as needed until there is no more bleeding.
You should be mostly recovered in three to four days and can resume normal activities, though it can take up to a month for the site to fully heal, so you should still avoid sucking through straws, smoking, and heavy exercise for about a month.