Wisdom tooth extraction, considered a routine outpatient procedure, is commonplace and is highly successful for patients of all ages. The procedure is surgical in nature and typically involves an oral surgeon doing the work with the patient under either local or general anesthesia. In most cases, all wisdom teeth must be removed it is more likely that general anesthesia will be used. It should also be noted that when all wisdom teeth are pulled at one time that there is a relatively higher risk for minor complications. Patients with any infection will usually be asked to wait until the infection has cleared up before having surgery. Antibiotics are often used to help expedite the healing of an oral infection.
The first step in having a wisdom tooth extracted is that the patient is given a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth is to be removed. Following local anesthetic application, general anesthesia may be then used in cases mentioned above. Your dental care provider will recommend that you not eat or drink anything the night preceding surgery. This helps to better prepare you for accepting both local and general anesthesia.
The actual procedure involves the oral surgeon opening up the gum tissue covering the tooth to remove any bone that may be covering the tooth. Once this has been accomplished the tooth can safely be removed. Sutures are then applied to close the initial incision. Today surgeons have access to dissolving stitches that will simply disappear over time. Conversely, other types of stitches must be removed a few days after the surgical procedure. In most situations, a cotton gauze pad will be used to cover the wound to help reduce bleeding and absorb any bleeding that does occur.
Some Patients May Be Prescribed Painkillers
Now that we understand the basics about wisdom tooth extraction surgery let’s talk about what a patient can expect following the surgical procedure. Fortunately, in almost all cases the recovery period can be expected to last only a few short days. Some patients may be prescribed painkillers as a way to better deal with any postsurgical pain.
One of the first things to expect following wisdom tooth extraction surgery is to be asked to bite gently on a gauze pad. This is done to soak up any excess blood. The frequent changing of pads is not uncommon initially. Anytime bleeding continues for more than 24 hours following surgery it is important to contact your oral surgeon or dentist as soon as possible.
Patients should be cautious not to bite on the inside of their lip or cheek or even their tongue following surgery. This is a concern because the mouth will continue to be numb for a few hours following surgery when anesthesia has been used. Unnecessary injury can occur if persistent biting happens while the mouth is still numb. Also, your dental care provider will typically recommend that you not lie flat following surgery. This can cause bleeding to be prolonged. It is best to prop up your head with pillows or sleep in a recliner chair.
Applying Ice For About 20 Minutes
Some patients will find considerable relief from applying ice packs to the outside of the cheek. Applying ice for about 20 minutes at a time in the first 24 hours can provide substantial relief. Even moist heat works well in reducing pain. Using a simple washcloth soaked in warm water and applied intermittently should be expected to offer relief from pain. Doctors also suggest relaxing following surgery. Physical activity is not recommended and may ultimately increase bleeding or cause further complications.
Equally important is to always eat soft foods following oral surgery. Pudding, Gelatin, and warm soups are best. Patients can slowly add solid foods to their diet as the healing process continues to progress. Avoid hot foods and never use a straw to drink liquids within the first few days of surgery. The negative pressure caused by sucking on a straw can cause blood clots to loosen thereby ultimately delaying healing.
Patients Should Continue To Brush Their Teeth Normally
Also, patients should not smoke following oral surgery as this can also cause negative pressure that may loosen a blood clot in the mouth. Smoking also decreases blood supply and can add unwanted contaminants to the affected surgical area. Patients should continue to brush their teeth normally but do so in a careful and cautious way. Avoid rubbing the surgical wound with your tongue and never touch the area with your fingers. This can disrupt the healing process and introduce unwanted bacteria potentially causing an infection.
Finally, after the first day following surgery, most dental care providers will recommend rinsing gently with warm salt water several times daily. This helps to reduce swelling and relieve chronic pain. Patients can quickly make a simple mixture of salt and water by mixing one teaspoon of salt with about 8 ounces of warm water. This combination is intended to cleanse the site of the surgical wound. As a note of caution, patients should avoid rinsing too vigorously or too hard as this could loosen a blood clot and delay healing. Talk with your dental care provider to learn more about wisdom tooth removal surgery.