Wisdom Tooth Removal
Commonly, wisdom teeth, or unused third molars, must be surgically removed to prevent infection or damage to neighboring teeth.
During the extraction of wisdom teeth, patients are either partially or totally sedated. An oral surgeon makes an incision in the gum to reveal the crown of the tooth. Once the tooth is extracted, the incision is stitched to allow for proper healing.
When teeth are damaged or severely decayed, it is sometimes necessary to extract the tooth entirely. An incision is made in the gum, the tooth is extracted, and the incision is closed.
It is important to consider tooth replacement options, since an open area in the jaw can create further dental issues with drifting teeth or increased likelihood of infections. If you are considering a dental implant, you should discuss the possibility with your surgeon before the extraction.
Before any oral surgical procedure you should…
- Eat a light and easily digestible meal the night before your appointment
- If you are going to be sedated, DO NOT eat or drink anything on the day of your appointment
- Wear short sleeves and loose-fitting clothing
- Arrange for a relative or friend to stay in the office with you and be ready to drive you home
- You may NOT drive a car on the day of the surgery if you are to be sedated!
Fold a piece of clean gauze into a pad thick enough to bite on directly on the extraction site. Apply moderate pressure by closing the teeth firmly over the pad. Maintain this pressure for about 30 minutes. If the pad becomes soaked, replace it with a clean one as necessary. Do not suck on the extraction site (as with a straw). A slight amount of blood may leak at the extraction site until a clot forms. However, if heavy bleeding continues, call your dentist. (Remember, though, that a lot of saliva and a little blood can look like a lot of bleeding).
The Blood Clot
After an extraction, a blood clot forms in the tooth socket. This clot is an important part of the normal healing process. You should therefore avoid activities that might disturb the clot.
Here’s how to protect it:
- Do not smoke, or rinse your mouth vigorously, or drink through a straw for 24 hours. These activities create suction in the mouth, which could dislodge the clot and delay healing.
- Do not clean the teeth next to the healing tooth socket for the rest of the day. You should, however, brush and floss your other teeth thoroughly, gently rinse your mouth afterwards.
- Limit strenuous activity for 24 hours after the extraction. This will reduce bleeding and help the blood clot to form. Get plenty of rest.
- If you have sutures, your dentist will instruct you when to return to have them removed.
Your dentist may prescribe medication to control pain and prevent infection. Use it only as directed. If the medication prescribed does not seem to work for you, do not increase the dosage. Please call your dentist immediately if you have prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding, or fever.
Swelling and Pain
After a tooth is removed, you may have some discomfort and notice some swelling. You can help reduce swelling and pain by applying cold compresses to the face. An ice bag or cold, moist cloth can be used periodically. Ice should be used only for the first day. Apply the second day if needed. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
After the extraction, drink lots of liquids and eat soft, nutritious foods. Avoid alcoholic beverages and hot liquids. Begin eating solid foods the next day or as soon as you can chew comfortably. For about two days, try to chew food on the side opposite the extraction site. If you are troubled by nausea and vomiting call your dentist for advice.
The day after the extraction, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water ( a teaspoon of salt in an 8 oz. glass of warm water). Rinsing after meals is important to keep food particles away from the extraction site. Do not rinse vigorously!
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