Almost five million Americans undergo wisdom teeth extractions annually. This huge market costs Americans around $3 billion in dental care, and many wonder if it is worth the pain, money, and potential time off work.
Have you wondered about wisdom tooth aftercare? While the surgery may seem intimidating, aftercare is where you have to deal with pain, change your diet, and watch out for complications.
Luckily, we have a complete guide on what to expect during wisdom tooth surgery, why it’s important, and how to prepare for aftercare. Keep reading for more information!
Wisdom Tooth Surgery
Wisdom tooth surgery, also known as wisdom tooth extraction, involves the removal of teeth that can help your oral health. Wisdom teeth are often not necessary, and usually, there isn’t enough room in your mouth to accommodate them.
Not everyone has wisdom teeth, and some research speculates that approximately 40% of people may not have them. An X-Ray can determine how many wisdom teeth you have and if you have any that are impacted.
Surgery involves skilled oral surgeons with expertise in wisdom teeth removal. You can opt for local or sedative anesthesia. More severe cases may require general anesthesia.
A qualified surgeon will make incisions into your gum line and remove the bone and teeth. In some cases, they may have to break the tooth into smaller segments for easier removal. After the procedure, your oral surgeon will clean the site and place stitches.
Wisdom Teeth Problems
Known as your ‘third molars,’ these teeth are often the last to start growing and can sometimes not even break through the gum line. When this happens, it is called impacted wisdom teeth. Some of the risks with improperly growing wisdom teeth are:
- Poor natural tooth alignment
- Damage to other teeth
- Tooth decay
- Jawbone issues
Certified oral and maxillofacial specialists can advise if wisdom teeth removal is appropriate for you and what to expect during aftercare.
Wisdom Tooth Aftercare
What can you expect for wisdom tooth treatment after surgery? For starters, there will be some pain involved. It is not uncommon to also experience:
Sometimes, these symptoms can last for several days. Yet, the first 24 hours are the most critical.
Immediately following surgery, you will likely need someone to drive you home, especially if you were under sedative or general anesthesia. Your oral surgeon may also have given you a local anesthetic or pain medication that will limit your ability to drive.
During that first day, avoid some of these everyday tasks:
- Drinking through straws
- Using mouthwash
- Brushing over extraction sites
Smoking and drinking alcohol should also be avoided. Typically, most people can return to work, school, or other hobbies the next day. Excessive exercise should be avoided for about a week since it can cause blood clots to break loose.
The extraction site will take much longer to heal. In some cases, it can take six weeks or longer. Your surgeon will also send you home with a few additional supplies that can help, including:
- Extra gauze
- Pain medication prescription
- Ice packs
When using gauze, ensure you moisten it with warm water and remove it after about thirty minutes. If you continue having bleeding, simply replace it with a clean strip and avoid chewing or eating with it.
Many individuals find wisdom tooth pain management effective with ice packs and over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen and Tylenol. Common prescription pain medication includes hydrocodone and oxycodone, although these should be used sparingly and only as prescribed.
What Can You Eat After Wisdom Tooth Surgery?
Part of your wisdom tooth home care advice will be what you can and cannot eat. For most, it will simply depend on how quickly you heal, but you should always start with soft foods. Some people may only find that they can drink liquids, but remember to avoid using a straw.
As you start feeling better, you can begin mixing solid foods into your diet. Here are some foods you should avoid until the extraction site is fully healed:
These textures and flavors can increase irritation and limit healing. After eating, try rinsing your mouth with warm water and salt. Besides warm salt water rinses, you should avoid brushing or flossing teeth during the first 24 hours after surgery.
Signs of Infection
Signs of infection can be pain, swelling, pus, or fevers. Keep in mind that a few of these symptoms are quite common immediately after surgery but should not persist. Dry socket is one of the rarer side effects and complications but is something to watch out for.
Dry socket happens when blood clots become dislodged, so it is essential that you ease into exercise and avoid rinsing and spitting. Most patients with a dry socket diagnosis report intense pain two to three days after surgery. Your oral surgeon will usually have to irrigate the site and dress the wound manually.
Find Wisdom Tooth Treatment Near You
For many, wisdom tooth extraction is the last major oral surgery of their teenage or young adulthood years. It can seem intimidating, but the wisdom tooth aftercare process is quite simple if you take time to recover and have some caregiver support for the first 24 hours.
The process is smoother if you choose a qualified and highly skilled oral surgery clinic specializing in wisdom teeth removal. At Aspire Surgical, we look at the entire picture of the risks, benefits, and oral health of your wisdom teeth.
For a consultation, check out our website and find a location nearest you!