Your first steps, your first crush, & getting your driver’s license are well recognized and even adored coming-of-age milestones in every person’s life. A less adored, but just as well-known milestone is the dreaded wisdom teeth removal.
Unfortunately, wisdom teeth grow and serve no purpose other than to remind teenagers and young adults they are there. Not only do wisdom teeth not serve a purpose, but they often wreak havoc on a healthy developing mouth.
The number of wisdom teeth can vary from person to person. Some may have none at all. Others may have anywhere from one to four and some even have up to eight or more. These extra teeth are known as “Supernumerary Teeth”.
Whatever the number of wisdom teeth growing you may have, leaving them to grow in often causes unnecessary crowding or damage to other teeth, infection, and pain. The best time to have them removed is usually between ages 15 and 18.
This begs several questions. Who should you trust with your mouth? What can you expect from recovery? How painful is it? Our hope is by the end of this blog, you will have a deeper understanding and be more comfortable when facing this common, minor surgical procedure.
Choosing Your Doctor
In most cases, it begins with a general dentist. Many families have a family dentist they have been visiting for years and are comfortable with. A general dentist is well equipped as the frontline for oral healthcare. Regular checkups and cleanings help maintain a healthy smile.
Oral surgery, however, should be handled by a specialist. Oral Surgeons have at least 4 years of additional training beyond dental school. They have literally performed thousands of oral surgeries in that time span alone before graduating.
Level of impaction, number and shape of roots, nerves running nearby, and many other factors need to be taken into consideration before performing this procedure. Even after doing all your homework, once in the surgery, the level of difficulty can quickly compound. Oral surgeons are specifically prepared to handle these situations with finesse and precision.
With an oral surgeon driving the car, you are much more likely to reach the destination not only quicker, but much safer as well. You will also sleep the whole way there! Oral surgeons are extensively trained in all four levels of anesthesia to ensure a very comfortable ride; waking up and feeling good before you know it!
Preparing For Surgery
First, a consultation is your best friend. It will afford you the opportunity to ask questions. Second, ask questions! Don’t hesitate to ask anything and everything. You want to make sure you feel absolutely comfortable and well-informed before moving forward. The last thing you will want to do is show up on the day of surgery and have no idea what is going on or what to expect from the procedure. Consultations may be done in the office or over the phone if we have your x-ray.
Take comfort in knowing this is an outpatient procedure. This means you come in to our office for a short while and then get to go home and rest comfortably. It is highly recommended to use general anesthesia for this procedure. This means you are asleep. This level of anesthesia cannot be done by a general dentist. Though this ensures a comfortable procedure, it also means you will need someone there ready to drive you home.
On the day of surgery we ask that patients come wearing a short-sleeved shirt. Access will be needed for the blood-pressure cuff and the IV. You are welcome to bring a lap blanket with you. The procedure on average only lasts about 20 minutes. Another 20 or so minutes is spent in a recovery room for monitoring until you are ready to go home.
Recovery Dos & Don’ts
Post-operative care is crucial for an expedient and complication-free recovery.
Initially waking up you will likely still feel groggy and disoriented. Just remember, try to stay calm and resting. The medication given during the procedure will prevent you from waking up with any pain. Plan on resting the rest of the day as the anesthesia wears off. When standing up, rise slowly and carefully.
Minor pain and some swelling is to be expected later as numbness wears off. Pain medications will be provided with instructions that should be closely followed. Rinsing with mild salt water helps keep the mouth clean of infection. Rinse at least 2-3 times per day or after each meal.
Swelling varies from one individual to the next. Swelling is expected to continue for the following days, the worst being on the third day. From then forward, the swelling will begin to subside. Applying ice in twenty-minute intervals helps minimize the amount of swelling.
Slight bleeding is normal for up to 24 hours. Biting down on gauze or a tea bag will help with continued bleeding. Make sure not to fall asleep with the gauze in your mouth. If bleeding is persistent, always feel comfortable in contacting our office.
For three days following the procedure, plan on refraining from any strenuous activities, including heavy weight lifting. This is especially true for the first 24 hours. The goal here is to keep your blood pressure from rising too high and interfering with the first phase of healing. Taking it easy will also help with the retention of blood clots and help prevent dry socket.
Foods to avoid includes generally anything hard or crunchy. Popcorn, nuts, and chips are examples of what should not be eaten during the healing phase. The extractions will leave visible holes where your wisdom teeth once were. A syringe along with instructions on how to use it will be provided to help keep food from building up. Stitches that were placed will dissolve 3-5 days after being placed.
Always remember our care for you does not end when you leave our office. Should you have any concerns or problems following the procedure, you are very welcome to give our office a call. Dr. Bulloch and his team will be there with you 100% of the way to ensure a positive experience.
Have any questions or wanting to schedule a consultation? Give our office a call! 435-652-1445.