Getting Wise About Your Wisdom Teeth

They say that age brings wisdom. Well this is especially true when it comes to your wisdom teeth. Classified as any of the usual four third molars, wisdom teeth first begin to appear between the ages of 17 and 25. The majority of adults have four wisdom teeth, although it’s possible for a person to develop more or less.

If you are experiencing any discomfort from your wisdom teeth, any of our doctors at Laurelhurst Dentistry can help remove a troublesome tooth. If your wisdom tooth has caused you to develop an infection, surgery to remove the tooth will usually be delayed until the infection has healed, and you may be prescribed antibiotics to help heal the infection more quickly if necessary.

What to Expect During the Procedure

Before you undergo a procedure to remove a wisdom tooth, your attending doctor will give you a local anesthetic in the area of the tooth being removed in order to numb any potential discomfort. In some cases, a general anesthetic may be used, especially during procedures where a patient is having all of their wisdom teeth removed. Unlike a local anesthetic, a general anesthetic will prevent the patient from feeling any pain throughout the body, and will cause the patient to sleep throughout the entire procedure. The attending doctor will probably recommend that you not eat or drink after midnight on the night prior to surgery so that you can prepare for the anesthetic.

To remove your wisdom teeth, your dentist will open up the gum tissue over the tooth and take out any bone that is covering the tooth. The doctor will separate the tissue connecting the tooth to the bone and then she will remove the tooth. Sometime it’s necessary to cut the tooth into smaller pieces to make the removal easier.

After your tooth is removed, you could need stitches to help your wounds heal. Some types of stitches will dissolve over time, while others may need to be removed after a couple of days. If you experience bleeding after the procedure, place a folded piece of cotton gauze over the wound.

What to Expect During Recovery

In most instances, your recovery will only last a few days. To deal with any pain, your dentist can prescribe medication to help make you more comfortable. The following tips can also help you recover more quickly.

• Gently bite down on the gauze pad from time-to-time, and change pads frequently Call us at Laurelhurst if you are still experiencing bleeding 24 hours after your surgery.
• Be careful not to bite the inside of your lip, cheek, or tongue while your mouth is numb following the procedure.
• Do not lie flat. This could prolong any bleeding you’re experiencing.
• Try placing an ice pack on the outside of your cheek for the first 24 hours following your surgery. You can also use moist heath, such as a washcloth soaked in warm water, for several days following surgery.
• Make sure to relax, as physical activity can increase any bleeding.
• Eat only soft foods, such as gelatin, pudding, or soup. Gradually reintroduce solid foods back into your diet after a few days.
• Do not use a straw for several days following surgery. Sucking on a straw can dislodge the blood clot and delay healing.
• Begin rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water mixture to help reduce swelling and alleviate pain 24 hours after your surgery. Make your salt water mixture by adding one tablespoon of salt to a eight ounce glass of warm water.
• Don’t smoke for 24 hours after your surgery. The sucking motion used to smoke is similar to that of using a straw, and could also dislodge a blood clot and slow down the healing process.

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