Wisdom Teeth Removal
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South River Dentistry in Midlothian specializes in wisdom teeth removal. We have the experience to help you understand what wisdom teeth are and why they need to be removed.
Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars located in the back of our mouths. They usually appear during our late teenage years. In the past, our ancestors needed these teeth to chew rough foods. However, over time, human jaws have decreased in size, making wisdom teeth more of a hindrance than a help.
Wisdom Teeth often need to be removed to avoid other dental health issues, such as:
- Painful, swollen gums
- Damage to surrounding teeth
- Damage to nerves and jawbone
When wisdom teeth start to appear, we take a proactive approach and recommend removing them before they cause pain or damage. Our dentists are experienced with removing wisdom teeth and will make the procedure as comfortable and safe as possible. The removal of wisdom teeth is a multi-step process that the team at South River Dentistry is very familiar with.
Wisdom teeth removal is a simple process:
- The first step is to administer the proper dose of anesthesia, depending on what the patient is most comfortable with.
- Next, we make an incision in the gum tissue to access the wisdom tooth.
- If necessary, we remove any bone that may be blocking the path to the tooth root.
- Then we extract the wisdom tooth.
- Finally, we clean the area around the extraction site, and to promote healing, we suture the site closed.
If you are located in or near Midlothian, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 804-378-7888 for all your dental needs—including wisdom teeth removal!
We guide you to a smooth recovery.
After surgery has been completed, we check in with the patient to see how they are feeling and develop a plan for a successful recovery. In most cases, patients will need a few days of rest following their procedure. There may be some minor bleeding, swelling and pain, but by following our recovery instructions, patients can expect to return to their normal routine within three to five days. After your wisdom teeth have been removed, it is important to follow your dentist’s instructions for recovery.
They will provide you with gauze to bite down on and apply pressure with, to stop the bleeding. It is important to keep the gauze in place for at least an hour after arriving home from the procedure. If you run out of gauze, you can use a moist tea bag as a replacement.
- Swelling is normal and expected, especially around the lower face, the day after surgery. The swelling will peak 2-3 days after the procedure. This is just the body’s natural reaction to surgery. You can help diminish the swelling by immediately applying ice packs. If you feel stiffness in your jaw muscles 48 hours after surgery, try applying moist heat to relax the muscles and help you open your mouth more easily.
- Your dentist will provide medication for pain relief following surgery. If you are under 18 years old, please consult our practice for specific instructions. Do not take two medications at once. Be sure to take prescribed medication as directed and avoid taking any medications that you are allergic to or have been instructed by your doctor to avoid. You should also avoid driving a vehicle, working around machinery, and drinking alcohol while you recover. Pain and discomfort should subside more as each day that passes.
- To prevent nausea, do not eat or drink anything (including any liquids prescribed by your dentist) for at least one hour after wisdom teeth removal surgery. After one hour has passed, you can drink liquids for 15 minutes before resuming a soft food diet chewed on the opposite side of your mouth from where your wisdom teeth were removed. Be sure to increase your fluid intake to 5-6 glasses per day and maintain a high calorie/protein diet to avoid malnourishment while healing. Water, sports drinks and shakes are other good ways of maintaining nutrients while recovering from wisdom teeth removal surgery.
Change in oral hygiene: You should not rinse until 24 hours after surgery, and rinsing 5-6 times daily is encouraged starting from 24 hours post-op. When rinsing, use warm water mixed with 1 teaspoon of salt and brush your teeth 24 hours after surgery.
- If antibiotics have been prescribed, take them as directed to prevent infection. In the event of a rash or any other adverse reactions while taking antibiotics, discontinue usage immediately and contact our office.
What you eat after wisdom teeth removal is crucial for a speedy recovery.
To make sure you're prepared, stock your pantry and fridge with easy-to-eat foods that require little to no chewing, such as popsicles, ice cream, yogurt, soup, and Jell-O. For the first 24 to 48 hours post-surgery, stick to liquids and soft foods like applesauce, mashed potatoes, and pudding. Cold foods will help with any discomfort you're feeling. As you start to feel better, slowly add in more solid foods like soft scrambled eggs, toast, or oatmeal. By day five, you should be able to eat firmer foods as long as you chew slowly and avoid large bites.
Other helpful tips:
It's not uncommon for your body temperature to elevate slightly after surgery. You can take Tylenol or ibuprofen to reduce the fever but be careful not to mix medications. Also, because of low blood sugar or medications, you may feel lightheaded when going from lying down to standing. To avoid this, wait one minute in the seated position before standing up. You may also feel hard protrusions near the surgical sites; these are likely the bony walls that supported the now-removed teeth. These usually smooth out on their own but can be removed if they persist. To keep your lips from getting dry and cracking, use an ointment such as Vaseline. Finally, sore throats are common due to swollen jaw and neck muscles but should subside in 2-3 days.
What are some potential postoperative problems from wisdom teeth removal?
It's crucial to remember that wisdom teeth removal is a serious medical procedure, and that postoperative care is very important. Unnecessary pain and complications, such as infection and swelling, can be minimized if the above instructions are followed carefully.
However, some complications may still arise. Common issues after wisdom teeth removal can include:
Dry sockets: Dry sockets are the most common issue during wisdom teeth removal recovery, typically arising due to the premature dislodging of a blood clot. Dry sockets typically occur in the lower jaw three to five days after surgery, causing aching in the ear that radiates down toward the chin. Those who smoke or consume oral contraceptives may be at greater risk for dry sockets. Luckily, they can be easily treated. First, we will need to perform a quick exam to determine if the discomfort is due to a dry socket. If so, we will gently clean it before addressing the issue. Treatment relieves pain almost instantly and effectively prevents future discomfort as the area heals — this is purely for pain management and does not expedite healing. If medication is managing pain on its own, additional dressing may not be necessary.
Sinus issues: The upper wisdom teeth are close to your sinuses, and their removal can leave an opening; though this is unlikely for younger patients, it will typically close on its own with time. We recommend avoiding blowing your nose for a few days following surgery as a precautionary measure.
Sensory nerve damage: One nerve in your lower jawbone is often close to the lower wisdom tooth’s roots and can become injured during the procedure; this is more common in older patients whose roots run deeper than a teenager’s. You may feel a tingle in your lower lip, chin or tongue when anesthesia wears off, but this is usually temporary and should resolve gradually. However, you should be aware of this possibility before consenting to surgery.
- Occasionally, infections occur after surgery, but they are easily treatable and usually require a quick office visit and exam — a prescription of antibiotics will typically do the trick.
Following these instructions should ensure a comfortable and safe recovery, but if you need any assistance, feel free to reach us at 804-378-7888.