Your wisdom teeth are a third set of molars, growing right at the back of your jaw in adulthood. Sometimes wisdom teeth cause intense pain and need to be removed.
Reasons for wisdom tooth removal
Wisdom tooth removal can be necessary due to:
- the teeth being impacted. This occurs when your wisdom teeth are trapped inside the gums or bone
- the teeth growing on an unusual angle, causing them to push against other teeth
- overcrowding, because your mouth doesn’t have enough room for the new teeth
- the presence of gum disease or cavities in your wisdom teeth, as they are so hard to reach with your toothbrush or dental floss.
What happens before surgery?
Before wisdom tooth removal surgery, your oral surgeon will meet with you to discuss what to expect, obtain your medical history, record any medications you take regularly and answer your questions.
Anaesthesia for wisdom teeth removal
There are three types of anaesthesia that may be used in wisdom teeth surgery:
- Local anaesthesia, in which the area around the affected teeth is numbed with an injection.
You will feel pressure, but no pain.
- Sedative anaesthesia, which is used alongside local anaesthesia. The sedative is delivered intravenously to make you feel calm. You won’t feel any pain and your memory of the surgery will be limited.
- General anaesthesia, which is delivered intravenously or through a breathing mask. You will sleep through the procedure and feel no pain. This form of anaesthetic has the longest recovery time.
What happens during the procedure?
The surgical procedure itself will be over in two hours. After removing your wisdom teeth, your oral surgeon may stitch up the wound and pack gauze around the area. The gauze aids healing and helps to soak up excess blood. Your stitches will dissolve within a week and do not need to be removed.
It is a good idea to plan to take a few days to rest after your surgery, to help you recover. You may feel discomfort for three to four days after having your wisdom teeth removed, however within a few weeks your mouth will be completely healed.
- use an ice pack to reduce any swelling or changes in skin colour
- apply moist heat if your jaw hurts
- exercise your jaw gently by opening and closing your mouth
- eat soft foods
- drink plenty of water
- wait 24 hours before you start to brush your teeth
- change your gauze regularly
- take medication if it has been prescribed for you
- call your doctor if you have pain that doesn’t get better, or if you have a fever.
- drink through a straw, this can dislodge blood clots that help your mouth to heal
- rinse your mouth too violently
- eat hard foods
- smoke, this can slow the healing process.