What is wisdom teeth extraction?
The extraction of the wisdom teeth is a procedure performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The procedure can be performed in the dentist’s office but, if the recommendation is made for all of the wisdom teeth to be pulled at once, then it is better to go to a hospital. It is important to understand that the presence of infection will represent a delay in the surgery and you might have to follow a treatment with antibiotics in order to fight off the infection.
Wisdom teeth are actually molars and they are part of the permanent dentition. In the dental arch, they are the last teeth. Even though the majority of people have all of their wisdom teeth, in some people not all of them develop. Also, it is possible for a person to have more than four wisdom teeth, which leads to increased discomfort in the area. In some people, the wisdom teeth have not breached the gums and this is the reason why the extraction is even more important. However, a visit to the dentist’s office will help you decide whether you need this procedure or not.
Before the actual procedure, the doctor will perform local anesthesia to the site where the wisdom teeth extraction is going to be made. General anesthesia is recommended in cases of patients where several wisdom teeth are going to be removed at once. You will not be able to eat or drink before the surgery, so that the anesthetic is affective, numbing the area and leaving it prepared for the procedure.
The dentist will perform a small incision on the gum tissue and make sure that any bone part covering the tooth is removed first. Then, the next step will be to separate the connection between the tooth and the bone, removing the actual wisdom tooth in the end. A dressing will be applied to the area in order for the bleeding to be stopped. Depending on each patient, the doctor might decide to stitch the incised area in order to promote a faster healing process. That is also dependent on how many wisdom teeth are actually pulled at once.
The costs of the wisdom teeth extraction procedure vary from one dentist to the other and from one geographical area to the other. Generally, you should expect to pay somewhere around $100 to have a single wisdom tooth extracted. However, the costs can reach bigger sums, especially if you need to have several teeth extracted at once and if you have to undergo general anesthesia. You will have to check your insurance before actually going through with the procedure, as it may cover partially or totally the procedure.
Keep in mind that the costs of wisdom teeth extraction increase when it comes to teeth that are impacted, as opposed to wisdom teeth that have already erupted. Moreover, the costs of additional procedures or investigations such as dental X-rays are not included in the original fees.
The doctor will make a series of recommendations that you need to follow after the actual wisdom teeth extraction. These are:
- The dressing placed at the site of extraction should be kept on for at least half an hour
- Refrain from heavy work immediately after the surgery. It is better to rest and stay calm in that day
- You can apply an ice pack to reduce the pain and swelling but do not leave it on for too long or you may have blood circulation problems
- Maintain proper oral hygiene, since you need to avoid the risk of infection
- Avoid touching the area of extraction, as you might have a lot of germs on your hands and it is not a good idea to bring them there. Plus, you might dislodge the blood clot that has formed in the area and cause bleeding to re-occur
- Be sure to take the anti-inflammatory medication recommended by the doctor. As the anesthetic wears off, you will feel a lot of pain and discomfort and pain medication can certainly be of help
- The mouth should not be rinsed for twenty-four hours after the surgery. However, after the first day, it is recommended that you rinse your mouth with warm water mixed with salt, several times a day, for at least five days after the surgery. This will keep the area clean and it will also prevent infections
- In the day of the surgery and the next day as well, be sure to eat only liquid and soft types of food. Integrate foods that need to be chewed on a gradual basis and make sure that you chew as far as you possibly can from the site of extraction
- You can brush your teeth and use dental floss but the recently operated area should be avoided for a period of time
In the first twenty-four hours after the surgery, you will notice that the bleeding has stopped and a blood clot has formed in the area. By taking the pain medication prescribed, you will not experience discomfort or pain. In the next two weeks after the procedure, you will notice that the gum tissue has healed and the extraction area is no longer tender to the touch.
In the next two weeks, so like after a month after the procedure, the healing process will most likely be completed. Depending on how large the wisdom tooth was, you might still notice an indentation at the site. This may be visible for a couple of months but it depends on the size of the wisdom tooth that was removed. However, you need to remember that bone was taken out and that it can take up to six or eight months for that empty socket to be filled. You can start making plans to replace the missing tooth and visit the doctor for a checkup.
Complications of Wisdom Teeth Extraction
These are the most common complications that can occur in case of wisdom teeth extraction:
- Excessive pain and inflammation
- Post extraction hemorrhage
- Difficulty opening the jaw
- Damage to existing dental work
- Dry socket (this happens when the protective blood clot is dislodged from the empty socket)
- Mouth numbness due to anesthetics (nerve injury or inflammation)
- Mandibular fracture (tooth strongly attached to the jaw)
- Opening into the sinus cavity (upper tooth removal)
- Infection, with white or yellow pus discharge, persistent pain and inflammation
- Altered sensation of the tongue
- Weakening of the lower jaw bone
- Permanent nerve damage
- Displacement of third molar
- Hematoma in the submandibular and lateral pharyngeal space
- Airway constriction
- Thoracic complications (very rare) – extensive subcutaneous emphysema
- Benign positional paroxysmal vertigo
Wisdom teeth extraction is a complex procedure that can bring a lot of pain and discomfort to the patient. It is only normal that the area is extremely tender and, the moment the anesthetic wears off, you will feel a lot of pain. Don’t wait until the pain settles in and take the pain medication the doctor has prescribed before. The most recommended drugs for such kind of pain are ibuprofen or ketoprofen. There are certain drugs that also contain codeine and this might help in cases of extreme pain.
You will have to take the drugs that the doctor prescribed you and make sure to avoid those that might trigger an allergic reaction or anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin. Aspirin is known for its blood thinning properties and it will most likely cause the area to bleed, preventing the protective clot from forming. Ice packs applied to the site of extraction might also bring the pain relief that you need and you could also talk to the doctor about giving you a narcotic to ease the pain as well.
It is true that the pain medicine that is strong can also cause nausea but if you eat something before taking the drug, you will notice that it will become effective without making you nauseous. The efficiency of a drug varies however from one patient to the other. Some patients might require taking two pills at once in order for the pain relief effect to be obtained. Also, if the pain and inflammation do not subside and you do not obtain any pain relief, it might be a good idea to call the doctor’s office and schedule a follow-up appointment. There may be complications arising from the procedure and these require immediate medical attention.