Wisdom Teeth Removal
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Most people need their wisdom teeth removed because there isn't enough space for them to come in properly. This is because they tend to grow in at an angle or they don’t fully emerge. Third molars (the wisdom teeth) routinely damage the teeth right next door, called second molars. When wisdom teeth come in sideways like this, it throws off your bite, creates an area where food gets caught, decays both of the teeth, and can even cause a painful infection.
Common problems associated with wisdom teeth misalignment include:
- Painful, swollen gums
- Crowded or damaged surrounding teeth
- Possible damaged nerves and jawbone
Although it's normal for patients to fear the wisdom teeth removal process, the providers at South Texas Smiles will perform the safest, most comfortable extraction procedure possible.
Here is an overview of the extraction procedure:
- Local, sedation or general anesthesia is administered
- An incision is made in the gum tissue
- The bone that blocks access to the tooth root is removed
- The wisdom tooth is removed
- The site of the removed tooth is cleaned
- The wound is stitched close to promote healing, though this isn’t always necessary
- Gauze is placed over the extraction site to control bleeding and to help a blood clot form
After surgery, your provider can evaluate the state of your teeth and advise you on the most convenient and effective schedule for successful treatment.
What Happens After Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
Generally, most patients prefer to rest for a few days after their wisdom teeth are removed. After treatment, you may experience minor bleeding and pain. If you exercise regularly, remember to stop if you get lightheaded. Everyone’s reaction varies, and pain ranges from mild to severe.
You should expect to have some swelling after surgery. It usually peaks on the second day and resolves shortly after. Closely follow your instructions to ensure maximum comfort and expedited healing. In most cases, 3 to 5 days is enough!
What to Expect After Wisdom Teeth Removal
After your procedure the provider will give you gauze for insertion over the site. Apply pressure for a solid hour after arriving home to alleviate bleeding Excess bleeding may occur if pressure is not applied. Bite firmly for 30 minutes before removal and replacement. If you run out of gauze, bite on a moistened black tea bag.
- Swelling: Expect swelling after wisdom teeth removal, particularly around your lower face the day after surgery, and peaking 2-3 days in. Not to worry, this is the body’s normal reaction to surgery. Immediately applying ice packs will diminish swelling. If you feel stiffness in your jaw muscles 48 hours after surgery, apply moist heat for muscle relaxation to help you open your mouth.
- Pain: Medication will be provided by a doctor following surgery. Consult our practice for individuals under 18. Do not simultaneously take two medications. Prescribed medication should be taken as directed. Do not take any medications you are allergic to or have been instructed by your doctor to avoid. Avoid driving a car, working around machinery, and alcohol. Pain or discomfort should subside as every day passes.
- Diet: To prevent nausea, avoid eating after wisdom teeth removal (or drinking, for that matter) for at least an hour, including anything prescribed. Only consume liquids in the 15 minutes following this hour, but do not use straws. Sucking via straw may dislodge the blood clot and cause more bleeding. Soft foods are encouraged and be sure to chew away from the surgical sites. Maintain a high calorie/protein diet and increase fluid intake to 5-6 glasses daily to avoid malnourishment. Water, Gatorade, and shakes are other good ways of maintaining nutrients.
- Change in Oral Hygiene: Do not rinse until 24 hours after surgery. After one day, rinsing 5-6 times daily is encouraged. Rinse with warm water mixed with 1 teaspoon of salt and brush your teeth 24 hours after surgery.
- Antibiotics: If you have been placed on antibiotics, take as directed to prevent infection. In the event of a rash or any other adverse reactions, discontinue usage and contact our office immediately.
What to Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
So, you just had your wisdom teeth removed and are thinking about what you can eat after wisdom teeth removal?
As with most things, preparation is key. Stock up on easy-to-eat foods like popsicles, ice cream, yogurt, warm soup, Jell-O, and other foods that require little to no chewing.
When Can I Eat Solid Foods After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
For the first 24 to 48 hours, consume only liquids and soft foods such as yogurt, apple sauce, pudding, mashed potatoes, and ice cream. Cold foods are especially helpful with discomfort. As you start feeling better, you can experiment with more solid foods. By day 3, foods like soft, fluffy eggs, toast, or oatmeal can be consumed. By the fifth day, you should be able to resume eating firm foods so long as you make sure to chew slowly and avoid taking large bites.
Other Helpful Information
Slight temperature elevation after surgery is not uncommon. Tylenol or Ibuprofen can be taken to reduce the fever but be careful not to mix medications. Be wary of going from lying down to standing quickly due to lightheadedness caused by low blood sugar or medications. Wait one minute in the seated position before standing to ensure you make the transition at a reasonable pace.
You may feel hard, sharp protrusions near the surgical sites. These are likely the bony walls that support the now-removed tooth. These will usually smooth out spontaneously but can be removed if they persist. Keep your lips moist with ointment such as Vaseline to avoid dry, cracking skin. Sore throats are uncommon due to swollen jaw and neck muscles. This should subside in roughly 2-3 days.
What are Potential Postoperative Problems?
It is important to remember that wisdom teeth removal is a serious medical procedure, and that post-operative care is very important. Unnecessary pain and complications such as infection and swelling can be minimized if the above instructions are followed carefully.
However, some complications may still arise. Common issues after wisdom teeth removal can include:
- Dry sockets: Dry sockets are the most common issue during wisdom teeth removal recovery, typically arising due to the premature dislodging of a blood clot. Dry sockets typically occur in the lower jaw three to five days after surgery, causing aching in the ear that radiates down towards the chin. Those who smoke or consume oral contraceptives may be at greater risk for dry sockets. Luckily, they can be easily treated. First, we will need to perform a quick exam to determine if the discomfort is due to a dry socket. If so, we will gently clean it before we address the issue. Treatment relieves the pain almost instantly and effectively prevents future discomfort as the area heals. This is purely for pain management and does not expedite healing. If medication is managing the pain on its own, additional dressing may not be necessary.
- Sensory nerve damage: One nerve in your lower jawbone is often close to the lower wisdom tooth’s roots. It can become injured during the procedure, specifically in older patients, whose roots run deeper than a teenager’s. You may feel a tingle in your lower lip, chin, or tongue when the anesthesia wears off, but this is usually temporary and should resolve gradually. However, you should be aware of this possibility before consenting to surgery.
- Sinus issues: The upper wisdom teeth are close to your sinuses, and their removal can leave an opening. This is unlikely for younger patients. It will typically close on its own, but we recommend you avoid blowing your nose for a few days.
- Infections: Occasionally, infections occur after surgery. It is easily treatable and usually requires a quick office visit and exam. A prescription of antibiotic will typically do the trick.
If extraction becomes necessary, the experienced team of providers at South Texas Smiles will perform the safest, most comfortable extraction procedure possible. Even though many fear getting their wisdom teeth removed, you can expect considerate, efficient, quality care from our team. For more information on wisdom teeth removal, or to schedule an appointment in San Antonio, Texas, call us at .