Wisdom teeth aren’t any fun! These third molars can be quite painful even before they break the surface of the gums. These teeth generally come in between the age of 17 and 25 and are usually removed due to pain and other health risks their presence may post. The idea of having four of your teeth removed, regardless of how painful they are, can be quite frightening, especially for someone who has a fear of the dentist’s office!
The First Appointment
When you first notice that your wisdom teeth are causing you pain, or giving you problems, your dentist may ask that you schedule an appointment (usually very soon) to allow the dentist to take x-rays of your mouth and determine the placement of your wisdom teeth prior to determining whether or not they’ll need to be removed. Usually this appointment can be scheduled relatively quickly, especially if you are in pain. If you’re in a lot of pain and the dentist can’t remove them immediately, your dentist may be able to prescribe you pain medications to use until the scheduled removal.
Wisdom teeth are usually removed one of two ways; with the patient under anesthesia, or with the patient conscious but medicated.
If you are under anesthesia, you won’t remember any of the procedure, and will be “asleep” through the entire thing. The anesthetics are usually administered through a gas mask, or an IV line. Shortly after the administration of the anesthetics, you will lose consciousness, and the procedure will be performed. Deciding to “go under” for your extraction may be a good idea for individuals who don’t deal well with dental work, or are very anxious about the removal.
If you are not put under for the extraction, you are given shots of numbing medication into the gums. This medication removes all feeling from the mouth and can make it difficult to move your face or talk. If you are especially nervous or anxious about the procedure, your dentist may give you what is known as “laughing gas” or nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide only lasts as long as it is being breathed in and the affects of it dissipate immediately after removal of the cannula.
During the removal, regardless of whether you are awake or not, the dentist will use tools to extract the teeth. Your dentist may need to cut into your gums if the teeth are not fully exposed, and if they are especially difficult to remove, he may need to use a drill to break the teeth into smaller pieces before removing. If you are awake, these sounds can be frightening, but it is important to remember to relax. Remember, if you jerk or move suddenly while the dentist is working, they could accidentally injure your mouth.
After the Removal
Sadly, most dentists won’t allow you to keep your wisdom teeth as many states laws consider them “medical waste” and must be disposed of as such.
You will receive instructions on how to care for your mouth while you heal, as well as information on types of foods to avoid that could cause pain or increase your chance of infection. Your dentist will then prescribe you a pain medication to help you cope with the pain of the extraction, and instruct you to get plenty of rest. Your dentist may send you home with a special bulb syringe to help get rid of food that may become stuck in the sockets where your wisdom teeth used to be.
You’re likely to feel down for at least a few days and up to a week! This will vary from person to person depending on how quickly they typically heal and what kind of pain tolerance they have. If you work or go to school, it might be a good idea to take a few days off, allowing yourself ample time to heal and recover from your procedure. If you have young children, it might be smart to arrange childcare, or at the very least, some assistance in caring for them at home, as you may not feel your best while recovering and on pain medications.
Wisdom Teeth: Impaction, Removal, Function and More.