The idea of voluntarily having a tooth removed may seem a little unlikely to most people. The idea of having up to four teeth removed is just plain crazy. But when those teeth are your wisdom teeth, your dentist in Clackamas, OR at Sunnyside Dentistry wants you to know that a tooth extraction can eliminate unwanted pain and swelling, prevent the development of an infection, and can keep you smiling brightly for years to come.
The removal of your wisdom teeth is often performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Before removing a wisdom tooth, the dentist performing the procedure will provide a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be removed. However, a general anesthetic may be used, especially is several or all of your wisdom teeth are being removed during the same procedure. A general anesthetic helps to prevent pain in the whole body and will cause you to sleep through the procedure. Typically, you’ll be asked to refrain from eating or drinking anything at least 12 hours before your scheduled procedure.
To remove your wisdom teeth, the dentist will open up the gum tissue that sits over the tooth before removing any bone that covers the tooth. The dentist will then separate the tissue connecting the tooth to the bone and remove the tooth. Occasionally the dentist will cut the tooth into smaller pieces to make the extraction easier.
Once the tooth is removed, the operating surgeon will stitch the open sockets closed using stiches that typically dissolve in a few days.
What to Expect After Surgery
In the majority of cases, the recovery period lasts only a couple of days. Take the painkillers prescribed by the surgeon to help alleviate any discomfort you may feel. The following tips will also help speed along your recovery.
- Gently bite on a gauze pad periodically. Be sure to change the pads once they become soaked in blood and saliva. Make sure to call your Clackamas, OR dentist if bleeding persists for longer than 24 hours.
- Be careful not to bite your tongue, lip, or cheek while your mouth is numb following your surgery. Since you should avoid eating anything that requires much chewing, this just requires practicing a little patience when speaking.
- Do not lie down flat, as this may prolong any bleeding. Make sure to prop your head up with pillows.
- Apply an ice pack to the outside of your cheek. Apply for 15 to 20 minutes at a time for the first day. You can also use a moist, heated washcloth soaked in warm water for the next two to three days to help reduce swelling and improve healing.
- Take it easy after your surgery. Physical activity may increase bleeding.
- Eat only soft foods, such as gelatin, thin soup, and pudding. In the days following your surgery, you can start adding solid food back to your diet.
- After the first day, begin to gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times a day to reduce swelling and relieve pain. You can make your own salt water by adding 1 tsp of salt to an 8-ounce glass of water.
- Do not smoke for at least 24 hours following your surgery. The sucking motion caused by smoking can loosen the clot that has formed over your sockets and delay the healing process. Smoking can also cause an infection to occur in the treated area known as “dry socket.”