Prep and Recovery for Wisdom Teeth Removal: A Guide

Every young adult dreads the day when their dentist finally says to them: “Your wisdom teeth are coming in.”

Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a big deal. But with the right preparation, you can have a smoother road to recovery.

Were you recently told that your wisdom teeth are coming in?

Not sure when yours will start come in?

Do you have a child who is preparing to have wisdom teeth removal soon?

In either of these cases, we have everything you need to know to prepare and recover. Read on to learn more!

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

By the time we’re 13, all our adult teeth should have grown in.

However, between the ages of 17 and 25, four molars in the way backs of our jaws start to develop. These are the third set of molars called wisdom teeth.

If they start to come in at a particular angle, they’ll press against your back molars. As this happens, the adjacent teeth will start to become crooked and damaged.

Wisdom teeth not only cause a great deal of pain and tooth damage. They make it easier for food to get stuck in the mouth. This can lead to cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, infections, and inflammation.

Do You Need Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Unless your dentist already told you, you may not know when – or if – you’ll need your wisdom teeth removed. You can’t know for certain without confirmation from your dentist. But there are signs that can indicate that your wisdom teeth are coming in:

  • Gum throbbing
  • Swollen, bloody gums
  • Pain in the back of your mouth or jaw
  • Severe and persistent ear-aches and/or headaches

Some people don’t have wisdom teeth, while others may only have one or two come in. On the other hand, there are some people who have extra sets of wisdom teeth!

The bottom line: You can’t know for sure unless you go to the dentist.

What to Expect at the Dentist

Your dentist will need to examine the size of your mouth. They’ll also determine the angle which your wisdom teeth are coming in.

If your mouth is too small for the third set of molars, or if the wisdom teeth are coming in at a particular angle, you’ll likely need wisdom teeth removal.

Some patients may only need one or two of their wisdom teeth pulled. Other patients may need all four taken out. This all depends on the angle that they’re growing in and whether they’re impacted or not.

What does it mean to have an impacted wisdom tooth? An impacted wisdom tooth is a tooth that is stuck in the gums or blocked by other teeth. It’s unable to fully come in and can cause severe pain, inflammation, and sometimes infection.

If you need your wisdom teeth extracted, your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon. They’ll send x-rays to the oral surgeon, who will give you a final assessment and walk you through the procedure.

What to Expect at the Oral Surgeon’s Office

You will meet with an oral surgeon days or weeks before the surgery.

First, he or she will decide the best course of action for removing your wisdom teeth. Again, you may not need all four removed, but only they can determine this.

Your oral surgeon will explain the procedure. They should go over:

  • Your anesthesia options
  • Your pain management plan
  • How to care and clean the wounds
  • Possible complications
  • The types of stitches you’ll receive

With wisdom teeth removal, there is the possibility of developing dry sockets. Though this only occurs in 2-5% of patients, it’s still important to take good care of your mouth to prevent them.

What Are Dry Sockets?

After tooth removal, a blood clot forms at the extraction site. If it dissolves or changes position, it can expose the nerve and bone to air and anything that enters the mouth.

Dry sockets are extremely painful and this is one of the things that patients worry about most.

Those who smoke or don’t take proper care of their wounds are most likely to develop them. Follow instructions from your surgeon on oral care after wisdom teeth removal. This way, you don’t develop dry sockets.

When to Schedule Your Surgery

Having wisdom teeth removal is not like having a cavity filled or a root canal. In fact, recovery can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks.

Some people split the surgery into separate ones that occur within months or years apart. In most cases, oral surgeons recommend that their patients have all wisdom teeth extracted in one surgery. That way, they’ll never have to do it again.

Most patients still in school schedule their surgeries for the summer. This way, they won’t miss school and can fully recuperate at home.

You’ll certainly want to request time off work in the few days following your surgery. Recovery can take a while and you may be in too much pain to work.

Additionally, your oral surgeon may prescribe pain medications. Some may have side effects, such as dizziness and fatigue.

Before Surgery

Before the surgery date, pick up any prescriptions and recommended medications and supplies. You’ll also want to stock up on food and fluids.

On the first day, you should stick to soft foods that don’t require chewing and liquid meals. Avoid using straws because they may interfere with the blood clots forming at the extraction sites.

You should avoid hard, sticky foods until your wounds have fully healed. In the days following surgery, stick to soft foods and work your way up to other foods, like mashed potatoes, eggs, and pasta. Don’t eat hot or spicy foods.

Stock up on ice packs if you don’t already have some. They will help to reduce pain and swelling.

After Surgery

Take your medications as instructed and on schedule. Also, be sure to remove your gauze as instructed by your oral surgeon.

You can start brushing your teeth again the day after surgery. When brushing, be gentle and slow. You should also exercise your jaw and rinse your mouth gently with salt water.

Apply ice as needed to reduce swelling. Most importantly, get plenty of rest! Elevate your head and avoid exercise and strenuous activity for a few days after surgery.

Getting Started: Wisdom Teeth Removal

Getting wisdom teeth removed is never fun. It’s painful, and for those who develop dry sockets, it can make for one of the most unpleasant experiences.

By listening to your oral surgeon, you can recover faster after wisdom teeth removal.

Haven’t had your wisdom teeth checked by a dentist?

Do you live in or around Birmingham, Alabama?

If so, Doug Lewis Dentistry is here to help you begin the wisdom tooth removal process. To make an appointment, contact us today!