There is no way to sugar coat it. Wisdom teeth can cause us a great deal of pain. There is a lot of pain associated with the growth of wisdom teeth if they are growing in wrong, and that’s a major reason why wisdom teeth removal can be necessary. You might not be sure whether you need your wisdom teeth removed and might be wondering, will the pain go away on its own? Removal is typically the only option at that point. Understandably, you probably have a number of questions, such as: Should you be afraid of removal? Does it hurt? What should know about the recovery process? Are there any complications? There are a lot of things to learn about before you go in for your procedure. If the procedure is for your child’s teeth, you may find it particularly stressful. Here are some things you can expect during and after removal.
What is Involved in Extraction / Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Your dentist can remove your wisdom teeth. At Mackenzie Health, the procedure can be done in Dr. Pedvis’ (our dentist) office. Not all dentists perform wisdom teeth removal, thus many patients may have the procedure at a hospital, if each tooth needs to be extracted at the same time or if your case is high risk.
First things first. If you have an infection, you will need to have it cleared up prior to your procedure. In some cases, antibiotics are necessary. Before removing a wisdom tooth, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area. A general anesthetic might be used, especially if several (or all) of your wisdom teeth need to be removed at once. A general anesthetic can prevent you from experiencing pain and allows you to sleep through the procedure. You’ll probably need to fast (avoid eating and drinking) after midnight the night before your surgery. This helps prepare you for the anesthetic.
In order to remove your wisdom tooth (or teeth), your dentist will open your gum tissue over the tooth and take out bone that might be covering your tooth. Your dentist will then separate the tissue that connects the tooth to the bone, and then remove the tooth completely. Sometimes it is necessary for the dentist to cut the tooth into pieces, which makes it much easier to remove.
After your wisdom tooth is removed, you may require stitches. Some stitches will simply dissolve over time, and some need to be removed after a few days. You will be advised about whether you will need to return to your dentist to have your stitches removed.
Symptoms of Problems
Not all wisdom teeth problems will present noticeable symptoms-some people are not even aware there is an issue. Having said that, if you have any problems with any of your wisdom teeth, there is a possibility that you may experience one or more of any of the following symptoms:
- Crowding that may affect any of your other teeth
- Previously straight teeth that experience movement
- Difficulty with cleaning your teeth, including brushing and flossing
- A feeling of tight feeling across your teeth and along your jaw
- Inability to fit oral appliances properly, such as removable braces or mouth guards
- Stiffness and / or pain in your jaw, close to the area where your wisdom teeth are growing
- Pain, swelling and / or redness and/or abscess growth around your wisdom tooth— this may indicate an infection
- Irritation and / or pain that originates from your tongue, cheek, or top or bottom of your mouth due to a wisdom tooth that is misaligned and growing in on an angle and poking soft tissues in your mouth
- Gingivitis or tooth decay around or directly on your wisdom tooth, and surrounding teeth
Why Do they Need to be Removed?
When wisdom teeth are healthy and properly aligned, it shouldn’t hurt to keep them. However, many people do not have jaws that are big enough for them. This can cause misalignment of wisdom teeth. They can also become partially erupted or impacted, which can lead to the following oral health issues problems:
- Misaligned wisdom teeth can grow in awkward positions (angled inward, outward or horizontally) which can lead to crowding of other teeth that are on the same arch, damage to your adjacent teeth or damage to your nerves and jawbone.
- Partially erupted wisdom teeth can partially break through the gums, allowing bacteria to enter around the tooth, causing jaw pain, swelling and infection.
- Impacted wisdom teeth can remain entrapped in your soft tissues and/or jaw bone and are then unable to break through your gums, which can lead to trauma to your surrounding jaw bone and teeth.
- Fully erupted wisdom teeth have grown out of your gum line and are close to your other teeth on the same arch. However, erupted wisdom teeth are more vulnerable to tooth decay because keeping these teeth clean can be challenging as they are quite hard to reach.
Is Wisdom Teeth Extraction Painful?
Luckily, wisdom teeth removal is not a painful procedure, thanks to sedation and numbing medication. The type of sedation you receive will depend on your situation and your dentist will decide what is best for you. You might receive local anesthesia, which means you will be awake and might feel some pressure. However, you should not feel pain. Alternatively, you might receive sedation, which means you are awake but you have reduced consciousness so you won't remember much of the procedure. The third option is general anesthesia, this means you are completely unconscious and won't remember anything.
The type of anesthesia you are administered largely depends on how difficult your dentist or surgeon thinks the procedure will be, as well as how nervous you are about it. Either way, you will more than likely need to fast for a number of hours before the procedure, depending on the anesthesia type.
Once you are unable to feel pain, your dentist or surgeon will disconnect the tissue that surrounds your wisdom teeth. Then they will be extracted. The teeth are sometimes divided into sections before extraction. The procedure itself is not harsh or about the use of force as you might have been led to believe. The surgical sites are then usually stitched up. Regardless, gauze is placed over the holes to help further the clotting process which helps you to heal properly.
What are the Risks and Complications of Extraction?
After you have one or more wisdom teeth is removed, there is a chance you may experience any of the following complications (listed in random order). Always inform your dentist or doctor about any complications you experience to address them immediately.
- Swelling and pain felt in your gums and the socket of your tooth where the tooth was extracted.
- Bleeding for roughly 24 hours that won't stop.
- Pain associated with opening your jaw (trismus) or difficulty opening your jaw.
- Gums that are slow to heal.
- Damage to dental work you already had, like bridges or crowns, or damage to the roots of a tooth nearby.
- Dry socket, which is painful inflammation that can occur if a protective blood clot leaves the site of healing too soon.
- Injury or inflammation of the nerves in your jaw can cause numbness in your mouth and lips after the local anesthetic wears off.
- Rare side effects can include the following:
- Dental surgery might lead to bacteria in your mouth that enters your bloodstream which can lead to infections. Individuals who have a compromised immune system or autoimmune conditions and have trouble fighting infections may require antibiotics before and after the procedure. This includes individuals who have heart defects or artificial heart valves.
- Numbness in your lips or mouth that continues long after surgery.
- A fractured jaw can rarely occur if your tooth attached to your jawbone very firmly.
- A sinus cavity opening which can happen when a wisdom tooth is extracted from your upper jaw.
- Anesthetic (local and/or general) is typically used during all extraction procedures. Any surgery that involves one of the types of general anesthetic comes with a small risk of death or other complications.
How Many Days Off do You Need?
You will likely experience some pain and swelling, and there may be some bleeding after getting wisdom teeth removal. As you heal, you will need to try not to interfere with the blood clot or harm your gums. You should not brush your teeth during the first day of recovery. You won’t be able to consume alcohol, coffee, soda, hot beverages or solid foods for a few days following your surgery. Wisdom teeth extraction recovery time is usually three to four days, however, it can take up to one week. The amount of time you’ll need will depend in part on how much your wisdom teeth were erupting from your gums and how they were impacted.
To support an easier recovery, you’ll need to rest at home for a few days. Many individuals are able to return to work and their usual activities after one day of rest, however, you don’t want to dislodge the blood clot from where your teeth were extracted, thus it’s better to rest for longer than that. You will be recommended over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed a prescription pain killer by your oral surgeon, to help manage the pain. An ice pack placed over your jaw will help manage swelling, as well as reduce inflammation and ease your discomfort.
You will be advised by your oral surgeon or dentist about how to take care of your mouth for a healthy recovery. You may need to avoid brushing, flossing, spitting and rinsing for 24 hours. After that period of time, you can start to brush your teeth very gently. Rinsing your mouth with salt water will help keep it clean and prevent an infection. You will be advised to follow a soft-food diet for the first day or so. Then you can start to eat semi-soft foods slowly. When following a soft-food diet, you should avoid very hot food that can burn the area where your teeth were extracted. You should also avoid nuts and seeds that can get stuck in the hole where your wisdom teeth were. Do not drink anything out of a straw or slurp too strongly out of a spoon, as that can ruin your stitches.
The use of an ice pack, along with soft foods like applesauce, yogurt, banana and cottage cheese (and rinsing your mouth with salt water) will all help you with your recovery. If you notice any symptoms that are unusual, like pus discharge, fever or severe pain, call your doctor immediately. Although rare, this could indicate you may have an infection.
Is Recovery Painful?
As mentioned, after your procedure, you'll need to take it easy for a few days to allow yourself to heal. You might feel a little sleepy after your procedure due to the sedation, so you'll need to recruit someone to drive you home. Your face will look a little bit swollen after the surgery for few days. Swelling and pain after wisdom tooth extraction is expected and normal.
Everyone’s experience is different. For some people the pain is mild and for others it is more intense. The level of pain you will experience will depend on how many teeth you had extracted and how impacted they were. Regardless, your gums (where your teeth were removed) will be sore to the touch for up to a week. The pain usually improves after one or two days.
Some medical professionals prescribe narcotics for pain, however, this is being tabooed due to the opioid crisis. Alternative pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are becoming increasingly more standard as far as recommendations go. Of course, an ice pack can help relieve any pain, bruising and swelling. Depending on the severity of your extraction, your surgeon or dentist may suggest you stick to soft foods for a prolonged period of time.
Mackenzie Dental offers a variety of dental services for our patients, including wisdom teeth removal. We are a full-service dental clinic with a team of caring professionals who are here to help you and your family with any of your dental problems. We are professional, always take the time to properly address our patients’ questions and concerns, and we are experts on wisdom teeth removal. Visit our clinic for your dental needs. For more information, please call (905) 417-8700 or send us an email.