What to Expect When Getting your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Dr. Mark Reichman  is the division head of oral and maxillofacial surgery at British Columbia Children’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital in addition to managing the Oral and Facial Surgery Centre.

Having treated both adults and children in a variety of procedures, one of his areas of expertise of is wisdom teeth removal.

Many people don’t know what to expect from this of procedure. Dr. Mark Reichman wants you to know that it’s definitely not as scary as some people say!

Let’s consider some of the basics.

Wisdom teeth tend to grow somewhere between the ages of 17 and 25. You may feel pain when they grow in, and this is time to go to the doctor. Your dentist can X-ray your teeth and see where they may cause damage.

Why are wisdom teeth removed?

  • Your mouth doesn’t have space for more teeth: Sometimes your mouth is already the right size. It can’t fit any more more molars.
  • They’re growing at a risky angle: If the wisdom teeth are protruding into your teeth, this can cause pain and damage.
  • Pre-existing cavities or gum disease: If you can’t reach these molars with a brush or floss, you might be at risk for more oral health problems in the future.
  • They’re impacted: Impacted means they grow in abnormally and have gotten caught in your jawbone or gums.

So what will surgery be like?

The removal of the teeth takes under an hour, and most people take anesthesia in order not to feel pain.

There are generally three anesthesia options:

  • Local: Your doctor numbs your mouth with a shot of Novocaine.You may be given nitrous oxide to relax or “laugh” during surgery.
  • General: Your doctor will either administer a shot or give you a breathing mask until you’re completely asleep. You don’t feel a thing and you’ll be fully alert in a couple of hours.
  • IV Sedation: Your mouth will be numb and you’ll be kept on drugs through IV sedation, sleeping through most the procedure.

So your wisdom teeth are out. Now what?

Typically, it takes your body three to four days to recover from the surgery. However, recovery can be as long as ten days. The length of recovery depends on how severely the wisdom teeth were impacted and the manner in which they were erupting. You’ll need a plan to stay home from work or school for a couple of days. If you feel pain, use an ice pack on your cheeks.  Eat soft foods like yogurt that don’t require aggressive crunching. It’s recommended to rinse your mouth with salt water to rinse away any bacteria that could infect the removal sites.

This article was originally featured on Dr. Mark Reichman’s website.