Wisdom tooth removal has become a rite of passage for most people. Most mouths cannot comfortably fit this third set of molars. They need to be removed to prevent crowded, crooked teeth. If they are allowed to come in, they may not be able to be cleaned properly, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. When wisdom teeth do not have room to come in, they become impacted in the jaw bone. These can lead to pain and infections. Impacted wisdom teeth that are not removed also increase the risk of certain types of oral cancers.


Not all of the wisdom teeth may need to be removed at the same time. This depends on a number of factors like mouth size and the age of the patient. However, it is usually better to have them removed before they grow longer roots for less complicated removal.

Before surgery, your dentist will discuss anesthesia options. Some people opt for novocaine only, particularly in cases where removal will be easy. Anesthesia options also depend on how relaxed a patient is with the idea of having teeth extracted. If the thought of having the wisdom teeth removed makes a patient anxious, more involved anesthesia options will be the best route. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, can be used during the surgery to help relax the patient. Twilight anesthesia or general anesthesia can be used for complicated, impacted teeth that may require a lengthier surgery. Any health issues and allergies to medications should be taken into consideration before deciding on what type of anesthesia to use.


If twilight or general anesthesia is used, patients will be asked not to eat or drink for a certain amount of time prior to surgery. It is best to wear comfortable clothing the day of the surgery. The anesthesia will be administered via an IV and the patient will feel very groggy and may go to sleep. A numbing agent will be applied before removing the teeth. If only novocaine is being used, during the removal a patient may feel pressure and hear cracking or popping sounds. This is completely normal. Stitches may be placed in order to facilitate proper healing. Gauze will be placed where the teeth were to ensure healing begins and bleeding is stopped.


After the surgery, patients can expect to feel mild discomfort or pain as the numbing agent wears off. This is also normal and pain medication will be prescribed to help alleviate pain. An antibiotic may be prescribed if there is a concern about an infection.


Over the next few days and weeks following surgery the areas of the mouth may feel raw or sore. Patients can sometimes feel sharp flakes of bone that stick out of the gums. This may need some treatment in the future.


There are some things that should be avoided for the first few days after surgery. Smoking of any kind should be avoided as it prevents healing. Drinking through straws, swishing and spitting, and very hot or very cold liquids should be avoided. When the teeth are removed, a clot forms at the site. It is very important that this clot remains in place until the area is fully healed to avoid a condition known as dry socket. If dry socket does occur, extreme pain will be noted along with a bad taste in the mouth. If a dry socket is suspected, the patient should see their dentist immediately in order to fix the issue.

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