A wisdom tooth extraction is a very common procedure. When trying to grow through the gums, wisdom teeth can often cause issues. If it is impacted, that means that the tooth is growing at an angle instead of straight through the gum line. The tooth will then come in unevenly or only partially, and this can cause pain.
When a wisdom tooth comes partially through the gum, a flap of skin (operculum) could form over the tooth. This makes it hard to clean the tooth, and food could get stuck underneath, causing infection (pericoronitis). The infection causes pain and swelling in the area, but usually disappears on its own.
Wisdom teeth that are impacted or that could cause issues like infection need to be removed. Depending on the case, the patient may need only one wisdom tooth extracted, or they may need all four teeth done. A local anesthetic can be used to numb the areas of extraction if the patient and doctor prefer. Others would rather go under general anesthesia so they can be sedated during the extraction.
The procedure begins with cutting open the gum tissue to expose the wisdom tooth. Then the tooth is securely gripped and twisted back and forth until it comes out. In some cases, it may be so impacted that simply lifting it out will not work. If this is the case, the tooth will need to be broken up into pieces and then removed. Once the process is complete, sutures may be needed to close the affected area. Soluble sutures are often used, which dissolve on their own.
When the surgery is over, you will need a friend or family member to drive you home because of the anesthesia. You will also need to get rest. The extraction site will bleed for a little while, so you will need to change the gauze whenever it gets soaked. If the bleeding does not stop after 24 hours, call your dentist. When resting at home, do not lie flat, as this could make the bleeding last longer. Make sure to prop up your head on a pillow when lying down. You will be prescribed pain medication which you should take as needed if you are sore. Also, an ice pack can help with the pain. Your dentist may give you a cleaning solution to clean the affected area.
You can only eat soft foods for a few days after the surgery. Some recommendations are:
- Ice Cream
- Thin Soups
- Mashed Potatoes
- Any food that you can eat without chewing
It is important to make sure you do not smoke or use a straw when drinking. The sucking from these activities can loosen the stitches and will slow down the clotting. Contact the office if the extraction site is not healing properly, or if you have prolonged irritation, pain, or bleeding.