What Happens During Wisdom Tooth Removal (and How to Prepare Yourself)

BY: Dr. Sandeep Sharma
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What Happens During Wisdom Tooth Removal (and How to Prepare Yourself)

Did you know that wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that comes in during late adolescence or early adulthood? Some people never experience any problems with their wisdom teeth, while others may find that they need to have them removed. If you’re one of the many people who need wisdom tooth removal, it’s essential to understand what to expect.

This blog post will discuss what usually happens during wisdom tooth removal and how to prepare yourself for the procedure.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

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Wisdom teeth are the third permanent molars that develop at the back of the mouth, behind your second molars. Most people have four wisdom teeth — two on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw. They usually erupt during the late teens or early twenties.

Sometimes they develop in alignment with the other teeth and cause no problems, but often, there isn’t enough space for them to grow properly. When this happens, they become impacted, which means they are either partially erupted from the gums or buried beneath the gum tissue and jaw bone. Impacted teeth can cause pain, infection, and other problems. If your wisdom teeth are impacted, you may need to have them removed by a dentist.

How Do I Know if I Need to Get My Wisdom Tooth Removed?

Most dental professionals recommend the removal of wisdom teeth if they determine early on that they won’t normally be erupting. Removal at a younger age is generally less complicated because the tooth roots are not fully formed yet. Additionally, younger patients tend to recover more quickly after surgery. However, in other cases, removal may not be necessary, particularly if the erupting wisdom tooth is not painful or determined not to cause any problems in the future.

Nonetheless, if you’re experiencing any of the following problems, it may indicate that your wisdom teeth are growing and potentially causing adverse effects on your oral health. Hence, consult with your dentist to see if removal is necessary.

  • Gum redness or swelling behind your last molars

  • Severe pain, particularly in the jaw area or discomfort that radiates across the face

  • Jaw tenderness

  • White flecks behind your last molars that are most likely the cusps of your newly erupting teeth

  • Repeated infection of the soft tissues at the back of your mouth

  • Tooth decay or damage to the adjacent teeth, possibly your second molars

  • Crowding of the teeth or misalignment which may occur as your wisdom tooth pushes against the next tooth

  • Debris or food particles that get trapped around the wisdom teeth

  • Gum disease around your molars

  • A cyst (fluid-filled sac) forms around one or more wisdom teeth.

What Happens During Wisdom Tooth Removal?

Understanding what happens during the wisdom teeth removal process can help ease any worry or dental anxiety you may be feeling. This dental procedure is performed by a dentist and is considered fairly routine. Generally, the process of removing a wisdom tooth entails the following steps:

  • Selection of Anaesthesia and Numbing the area
    Before starting the procedure, you and your dentist will go through the selection of anaesthesia. Once a decision has been made, they will administer anaesthesia to numb the area around the tooth.

  • Tooth access
    Next, the dentist will make an incision in the gum tissue to access the wisdom tooth. The approach will depend on its position.

  • Loosening and Sectioning the Tooth
    The dentist will widen the tooth socket using dental tools and apply pressure from different angles. Sometimes, if the tooth is severely impacted, it will need to be removed in sections, which means that the dentist will divide it into parts before pulling it. It is to avoid damaging the soft tissues or ligaments in the area.

  • Extraction of Wisdom Tooth
    Once the wisdom tooth is loose or has been completely sectioned, the dentist will use surgical instruments such as dental forceps to remove it. They will grasp the tooth, rock it back and forth, or rotate it to separate it from the ligaments.

  • Cleaning of the Extraction Area
    Once the tooth has been removed, the dentist will clean the socket by removing any remaining bone, tooth fragments, or tissue. It is crucial to ensure that no debris will be left on the extraction site. Otherwise, an infection may occur, leading to more severe problems.

  • Closing the Wound
    After your wisdom teeth have been removed and cleaning of the area is finished, the dentist will close the wound area. They may apply one or two stitches to help the wound close. They may also ask you to bite on a clean gauze pad to help control the bleeding.

  • Post Surgery
    The stitches will be removed or dissolved after a few days. In the meantime, keeping the area clean and dry is crucial. You may have some soreness and swelling after the procedure, but they can be alleviated with prescribed pain relief medicine. You may also need to eat soft foods to avoid dislodging the blood clot. If you have any concerns about your stitches or wound, inform your dentist.

Will I Need General Anaesthesia for Wisdom Tooth Removal?

Many patients wonder if they need general anesthesia for their wisdom tooth removal. The answer to this question depends on many factors, including the patient’s personal preferences, comfort level, and the dentist’s recommendations.

Anaesthesia is commonly used for wisdom teeth extraction, and the use or type may depend on the complexity of the case. Generally, this medication will help you avoid feeling any pain during the removal process. General anaesthesia may not be necessary. However, most patients still choose to have them to help them feel comfortable during removal.

If you do not feel the need for general anesthesia, your dentist may be able to remove your wisdom teeth with local anaesthesia, which is usually sufficient to numb the area around the tooth. Ultimately, it is up to you and your dentist to decide what is suited for you.

How Should I Prepare for Wisdom Tooth Removal?

Ask relevant questions to the oral health professional before your wisdom tooth removal. This way, you’ll know what to expect and prepare before the procedure. By preparing yourself, you can feel less anxious and maybe more confident about the process.

  • Familiarise yourself with the procedure.
    It’s normal to feel a bit nervous about having wisdom teeth removed. After all, it’s surgery. Once you know more about the procedure and what to expect, you’ll see that there’s nothing to worry about.

  • Learn about the cost of wisdom teeth extraction.
    It is essential to know the procedure’s cost or at least have an estimate. This way, you can confirm your insurance coverage with your provider and prepare your budget.

  • Prepare your schedule.
    Hours after surgery, you may feel some pain, swelling, and bruising. It might take up to 24 hours for the anaesthesia to wear off. Because of this, you should schedule at least two days off from work or school. Following the initial two-day recovery, your mouth may take roughly one to two weeks to heal completely. During this time, avoid strenuous activities and eat only soft foods.

  • Arrange a ride home.
    The anaesthesia used during wisdom tooth removal can cause side effects like grogginess and disorientation, making driving unsafe. Have a friend or family member lined up to take you home, or consider arranging a backup ride.

  • Ask your dentist about pain medication.
    Make sure to fill any prescriptions for pain medication that your dentist has given you. If possible, have them on hand before your surgery to alleviate any discomfort as soon as possible afterwards.

  • What to wear. When you come in for wisdom tooth removal, you should wear comfortable and loose clothes. We recommend wearing a shirt with short sleeves or one that’s easy to roll the sleeves up in the event of administering anaesthesia.

  • Prepare food. After the surgery, your mouth may feel sore, so soft foods are highly recommended. Stock your cupboards with foods that require less chewing and biting, including yoghurt, soup, applesauce, smoothies, eggs, fish, and oatmeal.

How Long Does Wisdom Tooth Extraction Usually Take?

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While it is difficult to give an exact estimate, as it can vary depending on the individual case, the procedure generally takes 30-45 minutes. It’s important to note that this is just an approximate period; sometimes, it may take a bit longer or less.

For instance, in cases where an impacted tooth needs a surgical procedure, the duration may take a while longer than the estimated time compared to simple extraction, as the approach may require more effort. That said, the complexity of the case significantly impacts the amount of time needed to complete the procedure. We encourage you to consult our dentist to learn more about the possible duration of your wisdom tooth removal so you can better prepare.

Are There Possible Risks with Wisdom Teeth Removal Procedure?

While most wisdom tooth extractions are straightforward procedures with minimal risks, some possible complications can occur. These complications are rare but can occasionally cause long-term problems. That’s why it’s essential to consult with a dentist before having your wisdom teeth removed. They can take extra precautions to ensure the procedure’s success, and in times of risk, they can properly address them. Some of the possible complications may include the following:

  • Dry socket.
    Blood clots form over the extraction sites minutes after surgery to help your wound heal. A dry socket (alveolar osteitis) occurs if it’s dislodged, leaving the nerve inside the socket exposed to air or food debris. It can be quite painful, and it can delay the healing process.

  • Oral infection.
    One of the possible risks associated with wisdom teeth removal is an infection in the tooth socket. It may occur when bacteria enter the wound or debris is left behind after the procedure.

  • Jaw stiffness.
    A lengthy procedure like molar extraction may cause discomfort in your mouth, resulting in jaw stiffness or limited opening.

  • Excessive bleeding.
    Intermittent bleeding within the first 8 to 12 hours following extraction is normal because it takes time for a stable blood clot to form. However, bleeding that is more prolonged may be an indication of a problem.

  • Lip numbness.
    It’s rare, but it is possible to damage the inferior alveolar nerve when removing wisdom teeth. This nerve is close to the jaw, and if it becomes damaged during the procedure, it can lead to numbness of the lips or jaw.

If you are concerned about any risks, discuss them with your dentist before proceeding with the procedure.

Final Thoughts

Wisdom tooth removal is a routine procedure that involves removing third molars or the adult teeth at the back most part of the mouth. The process involved will depend on the tooth’s position or the case’s complexity and other factors. The dentist performs the procedure with anaesthesia, which helps the patient to feel relaxed and comfortable. On average, the estimated duration of the removal process may take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on individual circumstances. Additionally, take time to ask questions to your dentist before the dental extraction. Knowing what to expect can help you become calmer and be well prepared.

If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort and would like to book an appointment for a wisdom tooth extraction, please do so or kindly us at (08) 9345 0455. We look forward to helping you get relief from your oral health concerns.

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