Wisdom teeth extractions are a fairly common procedure. Wisdom teeth often cause problems as they are trying to protrude through the gums. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it means the tooth is coming in at an angle and not straight through the gum line. This can cause pain, the tooth can come in unevenly, or the tooth may only emerge partially.
When a wisdom tooth only emerges partially leaving a flap of skin, called an operculum, over the tooth. This can make it very difficult to keep the tooth clean with food particles and bacteria becoming trapped under the skin flap. If it is not kept clean a patient may develop an infection, called pericoronitis. It will usually go away on its own, but it causes swelling and pain in the area.
Impacted teeth and wisdom teeth that can potentially cause problems, like infections, need to be removed. Extractions can range from a single tooth, to removing all four wisdom teeth at once. Based on the preference of the doctor and/or the patient, a local anesthetic could be used to numb the areas where the teeth will be extracted. Others will prefer to go under a general anesthetic so that they will be sedated during the procedure.
The gum tissue around the wisdom tooth is cut open to reveal the tooth. Wisdom teeth can be removed by simply gripping them and trying to wiggle them loose and lifting them out of the gums. Sometimes wisdom teeth are impacted so tightly that it cannot be lifted out of the gums. In cases where the tooth is impacted it will be cut into pieces using a drill before being removed. After the tooth is extracted sutures may be used to hold the gum tissue together for a quicker healing time. Sutures that will dissolve on their own are the best option.
After having your wisdom teeth extracted it is important to get some rest. You may need to be driven home by a friend or family member if you chose general anesthesia for the procedure. You can expect for the extraction site to bleed for a little while after the surgery. Gauze will be applied at the completion of the surgery, and you will need to change it when it becomes soaked. If bleeding continues for longer than 24 hours you should call your dentist. Rest when you return home, but do not lie flat. This could prolong the bleeding. Prop your head up on a pillow when lying down. Your dentist will prescribe you pain medication, so if you become sore take as directed. You can also use an ice pack for the pain. Your dentist might also provide you with a cleaning solution to clean the extraction site.
You will be limited to soft foods for a few days after your surgery. Some recommended foods are:
4. Mashed Potatoes
5. Ice Cream
6. Thin Soups
7. ...and other food you can eat without chewing.
Do not use a straw when drinking for 7 days post extraction. Using a straw creates a sucking mechanism and it can slow the clotting process and loosen your sutures. The same can happen if you smoke after the procedure. If you have prolonged pain, bleeding, irritation, or don't feel that the extraction site is healing properly call your dentist for a follow up.