Some people don’t have wisdom teeth and all, and that’s perfectly okay. But if you have ones that haven’t fully erupted and are causing problems, you might be a candidate for wisdom teeth removal.
Your wisdom teeth are the third set of molars in the back of your mouth. They may come in around your late teens or early adult years, but it isn’t uncommon to have them emerge at other times in your life.
Why Might you Need to Get your Wisdom Teeth Removed?
They may cause pain, swelling, and redness as they emerge, come in at an angle, or they may even end up impacted below the gum surface, unable to fully erupt if there isn’t enough space. Sometimes, they can even cause cavities, infections, or gum disease. And in other cases, they may cause the rest of the teeth to shift.
It’s easier to get your wisdom teeth removed when you are younger, as the bones around your gums are softer and the nerve roots in your mouth haven’t completely formed. Getting it done well into your adulthood may make it more difficult and painful, but the area is numbed with anesthesia during the surgery, and any pain after that can be managed with a cold compress and painkillers.
Recovery from Wisdom Teeth Removal
In a short procedure accompanied by anesthesia, your dentist will make a short incision in the gum to get access to the wisdom tooth, then rock it back and forth, and sometimes, cut it into smaller parts, before pulling it out. If the tooth has emerged, there’s no need for an incision.
After the procedure, your dentist will place a gauze on the site of extraction, and you will be asked to bite down on it to put pressure, allowing a blood clot to form as a part of the healing process. If you have an infection, you may also be prescribed antibiotics.
What to Avoid?
For the next 24 hours, you will not be allowed to:
- Rinse your mouth out with liquid (this can dislodge the blood clot and cause dry sockets, delaying healing)
- Drink hot liquids like coffee, tea, or soup
- Drink alcohol
After 24 hours, you’ll need to rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash prescribed by your dentist. You’ll need to do this for a few days after you eat. You can also do warm salt-water gargles to help with the soreness and inflammation. And it’s important to note that while your gums are healing, you still need to brush the rest of your teeth, just a little carefully so as not to irritate the site of extraction.
And for a few days, you should:
- Avoid engaging in strenuous physical activity or exercise
- Eat soft food or liquid food like rice, eggs, khichdi, or pasta while you heal, and use your other teeth to chew the food
- Eat ice cream to help soothe the site of the incision/extraction
- Avoid crunchy or spicy foods as they can irritate your tissues
- Avoid drinking from straws as the suction can dislodge the blood clot
- Use an extra pillow to support your head at night
Although you will not feel pain (only pressure) during the removal, you may experience some pain, swelling, and tenderness for 5-7 days after the procedure. For pain, you can take painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen in a safe dosage. Additionally, your dentist will use dissolving stitches to seal the incision, and these might take a little over a week to dissolve.
What to Expect During Recovery?
For the next 2 weeks or until you heal from wisdom teeth removal, you may experience:
- Swelling in your mouth and cheeks - but this will improve with time, and a cold compress will help
- A little pain that can be managed with painkillers
- Mild bruising of the cheek for up to 2 weeks
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Soreness or stiffness in your jaw for up to 10 days
- Rarely, numbness or tingling in your face, lips, or tongue
- But if there is severe pain, excess bleeding, or any other unusual symptom, you should see your dentist.
Getting Back to Normal
If local anesthesia was used, you can drive after the procedure, but if a sedative or general anesthesia was used, try and hold off for 1-2 days. It will also help if you can take a day or two off from work to rest and allow the healing to happen at a faster rate.
Once the swelling and bruising disappear and you have finished any course of antibiotics that has been prescribed to you, your mouth and face will return to normal and you will be able to brush your teeth normally like before. Now, you can schedule a check-up appointment with your dentist and get any remaining stitches removed.