oral surgery

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Oral Surgery: What to Expect after Wisdom Teeth Removal

Are you and your child getting ready for wisdom teeth extraction? These tips will let you know what to expect after oral surgery, and how you can heal faster.

The anticipation of any surgery can be nerve racking. And while removing wisdom teeth is, at this point, a highly routine surgery, it’s also a highly important one. The problems that can arise from issues with your wisdom teeth shouldn’t be taken lightly.

  • Impacted wisdom teeth – that is, teeth that have not broken through the gums – can’t be cleaned and can cause damage to the adjacent teeth.
  • If they do erupt through the gum, they are very difficult to clean. They become a bed of bacteria that can cause tooth and gum disease.
  • Other health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke can be contributed to by inflammation of the gums. And chronic inflammation of the gums occurs frequently around wisdom teeth.
  • For those who have already gone through orthodontic treatments, that work can be undone by wisdom teeth shifting the remaining teeth in your mouth.

Understanding the importance of having oral surgery might make facing it a little easier. But nothing eases the mind like knowing what to expect.

What to Expect Before Your Oral Surgery

Before you set up your surgery, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums and take some x-rays. This will allow them to understand the full scope of what needs to be done. Not everyone’s wisdom teeth come in, and not everyone needs to have them removed. And some people don’t need all four teeth removed. Only through an exam and with x-rays can your dentist fully understand what procedures you’ll need.

Not everyone’s wisdom teeth come in, and not everyone needs to have them removed. And some people don’t need all four teeth removed. Only through an exam and with x-rays can your dentist fully understand what procedures you’ll need.

Once it’s been determined that the best course of treatment is oral surgery, your dentist may present you with the option of anesthesia: local, general or sedation. Your dental professional can walk you through their recommendations specific to your course of treatment as well as what the benefits and risks of each option are.

What to Expect During Your Oral Surgery

Depending on your choice of anesthesia, you may be awake for your procedure or asleep during it. Which means that you may hear everything going on during the surgery, or you may be completely oblivious to it. Either way, the procedure is similar.

First, your dentist will open up the gum over the tooth to be removed. If there is any bone covering the tooth, the dentist will remove that, and then disconnect any tissue connecting the tooth to the bone, and then remove the tooth itself.

After the tooth has been removed, if needed, your oral surgeon will place stitches in the gums. Your follow-up instructions will let you know if you need to return to have your stitches removed or if your stitches will dissolve on their own.

You’ll be provided with a set of post-operation instructions that you should follow. Following them will help make your recovery time as quick and as comfortable as possible, while also reducing any complications.

What to Expect After Your Oral Surgery

First, let’s answer the question that is probably top of mind for you – most likely it will take about 48 hours for the swelling and discomfort to go down. This doesn’t mean you’ll be healed in 48 hours, just that you’ll likely be through the worst of it in that time.

Immediately after the surgery, you’ll have cotton gauze over the incision site. You’ll want to keep gauze over the incision and bite down on it gently. You should also change the gauze frequently as it becomes soaked with blood until the bleeding stops.

Also, to prevent prolonged bleeding, don’t lay flat on your back. Instead, prop yourself up with pillows for at least the first three days. This will prevent pooling of the blood near the wound.

Be prepared to relax after surgery, at least for the rest of the day. And even after the first day, avoid strenuous activity that might increase the likelihood of causing the blood clot to fall out of the wound, which can lead to a condition known as “dry socket”.

If you’re a smoker, you’ll need to avoid smoking for at least 24 hours after surgery. The sucking motion can also cause the blood clot to fall out, and the tobacco products can slow down the healing process.

Don’t let your mouth dry out, and avoid sugary drink, alcohol, caffeine or hot beverages. Just like with smoking, avoid using a straw for at least a week.

The site of the surgery may swell and bruise. To help reduce the swelling, use an ice pack on the area. Apply it for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time for the first 24 hours following surgery.

Plan on eating soft foods like yogurt, applesauce, thin soup, pudding, and gelatin. You can add more solid foods over the days, as you heal.

Do continue to brush your teeth, carefully, after your surgery. Also, consider rinsing your mouth with warm salt water, which will help reduce swelling and relieve pain.

When to Call Your Dentist

Most wisdom teeth surgeries have no complications. But if you do have issues, make sure to call your dentist or oral surgeon if you experience any of the following issues:

  • Bleeding that continues past 24 hours after surgery
  • Fever
  • Significant pain that isn’t made better by prescribed medications
  • Pus or oozing out of the wound
  • Hard time swallowing or breathing
  • Blood or pus when you blow your nose
  • Swelling that doesn’t reduce after the first few days
  • Continuing numbness or loss of feeling

The last thing to watch for is a condition known as dry socket. The area where the tooth is removed from is called the socket and after the surgery a blood clot forms in the hole. On rare occasions, the clot falls out. You may also experience pain that radiates up to your ear.

Understanding what to expect from your oral surgery will alleviate some of the anxiety you may feel about this routine, but important surgery. By following your dentist or surgeon’s instructions and taking care of yourself afterward, you’ll reduce your chances of complications and recover quickly.