Unless you are a part of the lucky minority population that never grows wisdom teeth, chances are you will need to get your wisdom teeth removed at some point during adolescence or adulthood. Thanks to viral YouTube videos, the after-effects of wisdom tooth extraction have been well-documented. It is much easier, though, to laugh at a friend with swollen cheeks than to think about needing to get the procedure yourself. While the chipmunk cheeks are almost entirely unavoidable, understanding the basics of the procedure, following recovery instructions, and finding a good oral surgeon can drastically improve your wisdom teeth removal experience.

The Basics of Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Generally speaking, wisdom teeth are large molars found in the back of your mouth. Just because you cannot feel or see your wisdom teeth does not mean that they have not developed; instead, wisdom teeth can remain below the gums and require x-ray technology to really see. Although wisdom teeth offer no practical use to modern humans, they are often removed because of the potential they have to affect other teeth. Left unremoved, wisdom teeth can crowd out existing teeth and cause pain and bite issues.

Wisdom teeth grow in at varying times depending on the person, but most people with wisdom teeth develop them between 18- and 24-years-old. Depending on x-ray results and guidance from an oral surgeon, you might need anywhere between just one or all four wisdom teeth removed. Whether your wisdom teeth are impacted or not also affects your surgical procedure.

Wisdom Tooth Extraction Lingo:

  • Impacted: Impacted wisdom teeth refer to the wisdom teeth that remain below the surface of the gum, thus “impacted” and not erupted.
  • Soft-tissue impaction: This term refers to a wisdom tooth that has penetrated through the jaw bone but has not fully erupted into the gum.
  • Hard-tissue or bony impaction: Unlike soft-tissue impactions, where at least some of the tooth has crossed the bony threshold, hard-tissue impactions occur when the tooth remains primary inside the jaw bone. This type of impaction usually involves more invasive oral surgery, as the oral surgeon must remove the wisdom tooth from the jaw.

If you have any concerns or questions about your wisdom teeth removal, contact First Hill Dental Center and our dental clinic in Seattle will gladly provide information or help you to set up an appointment.

What should I expect during and after oral surgery?

While the details of wisdom tooth removal surgery depend on each patient and their specific needs, it usually involves numbing agents or total sedation. As such, you can expect to bring a parent, significant other, or friend along with you to drive you home after the procedure. During surgery, you should always expect to be comfortable and pain-free, which is why it is important to find an oral surgeon whom you trust.

Because you are more than likely sedated during the actual wisdom tooth removal, it is more important to understand the importance of postoperative care and hygiene.

After oral surgery, each patient heals differently and at different rates. The best thing you can do to ensure a smooth recovery is to follow all postoperative guidelines. Even if you are not in any pain, proper post-surgery hygiene helps to prevent infection and expedite the healing process. Below are the basic guidelines for patients after wisdom tooth removal surgery:

  • Keep the gauze over the surgical area for the recommended time, so a healthy clot can form.
  • Avoid smoking or sipping through a straw, as this can disrupt the clot formation.
  • Manage pain as needed
  • Avoid solid food intake and try to avoid chewing near the surgical area until it heals more.
  • Rinse your mouth gently and maintain good oral hygiene

While following postoperative guidelines from your oral surgeon is the best way to avoid infection, recovering from wisdom tooth surgery can be very difficult depending on the person, how many teeth they had removed, and degree of impaction of each wisdom tooth. If you are experiencing unmanageable pain, continued bleeding, or signs of infection, you should call your oral surgeon right away. It is better to show precaution than to risk letting an infection worsen.

At First Hill Dental Center, our oral surgeons support patients before, during, and after the wisdom tooth extraction. Call us today to schedule your oral surgery.