What to Consider Before Wisdom Teeth Removal
Why is wisdom tooth removal necessary? Sometimes, the jaw might not grow big enough to accommodate the wisdom teeth. The teeth will then grow at an angle that causes discomfort and problems to the mouth. The “abnormal” growth of the wisdom teeth or third molars impacts the second molar. An oral surgeon will often recommend the removal of teeth to avert further dental problems and future, complicated oral surgeries. Fortunately, the wisdom tooth removal procedure can prevent a lot of future problems.
Wisdom Teeth and the Havoc They Can Cause
Do the wisdom teeth play an essential role in the mouth or overall dental functionality? Not exactly. The teeth are just at the back of the mouth and nearly every individual can chew and have full functionality without their wisdom teeth. As the molars at the back of your mouth, the wisdom teeth are not necessary in the chewing process. After all, it is fully normal for people to chew and speak normally for 15 to 20 years without wisdom teeth. However, depending on how they grow, these teeth can significantly disrupt the other molars that are more important for chewing.
When a wisdom tooth erupts in a small jaw space, they crowd the other functional teeth. Wisdom teeth can throw other molars out of alignment. Cleaning the impacted teeth may become difficult, and this might result in dental issues like periodontitis. Also, they might be impacted, leading to complications such as fluid cysts, pain, and damage to adjacent teeth. Any teeth coming in can be painful and make eating difficult in the short-term. In a worst case scenario, some people might also encounter difficulty opening their mouth, and can have their whole dental structure disrupted by these teeth coming in wrong.
Who Needs Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Anyone with infected, misaligned, or impacted teeth potentially qualifies for the procedure. It is best to seek a consultation with an oral surgeon to see if you qualify, and before deciding on the best course for you. The procedure is typically easier in younger patients because the bone is softer and the teeth less developed.
Preparing for the Procedure – Questions to Ask the Oral Surgeon
Just like any other surgical procedure, there are a number of questions it makes sense to ask your oral and dental surgeon before proceeding. As a patient, it is important to ask the following questions:
- How many procedures like yours has the oral/dental surgeon done before?
- What certifications and training has the oral/dental surgeon received?
- Which teeth will he/she remove?
- If they are leaving any wisdom teeth behind, why?
- What anesthesia, if any, will be used?
- What are the credentials of the anesthesiologist, if one is required?
- How long will the procedure take?
- Are there possible risks and complications of your specific operation?
- How long is the estimated recovery period?
- Are there special steps will you need to follow during the recovery period?
- What is the follow-up routine after the surgery?
- Are there any medications that I will be prescribed following the surgery? If so, what side-effects/known interactions with my other medications should I know about?
Consult with an Expert
Dr. Christopher Johnson, DMD, FACS is a respected, accomplished, and qualified oral surgeon who handles all dental surgeries including tooth removal. His customer-centered approach and the use of cutting-edge tools and techniques for the procedure have a calming effect on his patients. Also, he works with qualified and equally friendly staff. If you have questions about wisdom teeth removal or any other oral surgery, call Dr. Christopher for a free consultation with one of Central Florida’s most trusted oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
What You Need to Know About the Procedure
Before the Surgery
The oral surgeon will do an oral examination to determine the extent of the damage. You will also get the pre-surgery guidelines such as not eating or drinking before the procedure.
You might stop taking medical prescriptions as they might interfere with the medical procedure. One also learns what to do post- surgery for a quick recovery period.
Preparing for Your Wisdom Teeth Removal
Who needs bone grafting? Some surgeons recommend grafting behind the second molar for patients over the age of 25. Dr. Johnson rarely finds this necessary.
Drugs to Take or Avoid
What prescription drugs do you need to avoid or take? Let the oral surgeon know if you are taking any medication before the procedure.
Types of Anesthesia, and What to Expect
Be sure to inform Dr. Johnson of any known anesthesia allergies. Ask about the pros and cons of each anesthesia type, and how they may interact with other medications you take. Ask how the anesthesia might interact with alcohol, tobacco, and other substances, and follow your surgeon’s recommendations. Here is a general overview of different types of anesthesia:
- Sedation- It will suppress your consciousness, and you will have no pain. It is given through an IV along with local anesthesia. The patient has a limited to no memory of the process.
- Nitrous and local- It combines the local anesthesia and nitrous (also called laughing gas). It is cheaper, fast, effective, and wears off quickly. However, it leaves one feeling bubbly and happy, with a memory of the process but with less anxiety.
- General anesthesia- it knocks you out completely, with no pain or memory of the surgery and requires the most monitoring. Patients have no memory of the process whatsoever. The level of anesthesia is typically not needed for third molar removal.
- Local anesthesia- It only numbs the surgery area. One remains awake but feels the pressure but little to no pain. Patients will have a pretty clear and accurate memory of the process. Local anesthesia is generally considered the safest and least complicated option for anesthesia.
Brush your teeth, floss, gargle, and scrape your tongue before the surgery. You may not be able to do such activities for a few days after the procedure. You want your mouth to be as clean as possible to minimize the risks of infection or particles finding their way into the incision site. refrain from recreational drugs, especially marijuana.
Prepare a recovery room with a comfortable elevated pillow, a wipe cloth, approved beverages, and other items you might need. Remember to stock up on easy to chew, doctor approved that will last for you for some time after the surgery, such as broth, yogurt, pudding, etc.
It is almost always a smart idea to have a family member or friend drive you to the surgeon’s office. In fact, your oral surgeon may require someone else to drive you home after the procedure. Be sure to talk to your surgeon about this ahead of time.
Ensuring You Are Comfortable
Dental procedures can cause anxiety both before and after the procedure. It makes sense to arrange for that friend or family member who drove you to the doctor’s office to hang out with you for a while to make sure you are settled in and doing OK. If you are prone to surgical anxiety, ask the surgeon what would calm you down; it can be as simple as taking a valium. Wearing headphones isolates any outside noise that may cause anxiety. Listen to music, podcast, or anything that will distract you. Any surgical procedure can be draining. Plan ahead to make the day as smooth and relaxing as possible.
The surgeon will allow you to recover for a few minutes or hours depending on the anesthesia used. He/she will check you for excessive bleeding, or irregularity in your vitals before discharging you. When you return home, rest. Your oral surgeon will likely recommend you rest in certain seated positions (as opposed to laying down) to facilitate healing and prevent drainage from the incision site from causing problems. It is often helpful to use a cooling jaw cold pack to reduce the pain in your jaw area, but most people use a frozen bag of peas. Some of the things to avoid include:
- Avoid blowing, chewing or drinking out of a straw.
- Avoid smoking and/or chewing tobacco.
- Ice to face for 72 hours.
- Stay hydrated.
- Limit physical activities.
- Avoid rinsing your mouth or swishing liquids for the first 24 hours.
Complications and Risks
There are risks and potential complications inherent in any surgical procedure. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your surgeon:
- Excessive bleeding. Your surgeon should be able to help you differentiate between normal and excessive bleeding although everyone bleeds for 24 hours.
- Difficulty breathing and swallowing
- Pus/blood discharge from the nasal outlet
- Unbearable pain
- Swelling that will not go down
- Loss of sensation or tingling of the lip or tongue lasting longer than 24 hours after the procedure
- Fever, oral temperatures will be elevated after oral surgery
The Recovery Process
The process can take a few days to a week, depending on how extensive the surgery is and the individual. Here are a few important every wisdom tooth removal patient should know:
Your nutrition during the recovery process matters a great deal. Forego the ice cream and commit to eating a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet. However, avoid hard foods, such as nuts, red meat, chips, pretzels, etc. that might cause problems to the surgery site.
Avoiding a dry socket
It is important to follow the proper protocol if you want a quick recovery. For instance, do not use a straw or smoke following the surgery. Also, follow up with your surgeon for the scheduled visits.
Months after the Surgery
One will notice some changes several months after the procedure. Fortunately, they are manageable, and sometimes the effects slowly fade away.
Second molar sensitivity
The set of molar teeth adjacent to the removed wisdom tooth might experience some cold sensitivity when one takes cold drinks and snacks. Ultimately, this sensitivity usually goes away, but it could take months. If the teeth feel too sensitive, using sensitive fluoride toothpaste can help alleviate symptoms.
Other side effects
One might feel an occasional toothache or pain in the gum lines after the wisdom teeth removal procedure. This pain is manageable. However, your oral surgeon might recommend painkillers if the pain persists. Some people will experience TMJ pain when they open their mouth or chew. Allow the jaw to rest and place some ice packs to reduce the pain.
Following these few tips can make a huge difference before you do any oral and maxillofacial surgery. To learn more about wisdom teeth removal, call Dr. Christopher’s office for a free consultation.