The Extraction of Wisdom Teeth

While dentists will often try to save natural teeth, the extraction of wisdom teeth is a fairly common practice. Wisdom teeth commonly cause discomfort or pain. Some will come in at an angle rather than straight out (dentists call this “impacted”). It may come in unevenly or only partially. These situations can open the door for pain, swelling, and even infection. When the dentist determines that a wisdom tooth has the potential for these kinds of problems, he will recommend an extraction for that tooth. He may remove a single wisdom tooth, or he may even remove all four wisdom teeth at the same appointment. In some situations, a local anesthetic will be used. Other patients will want a general anesthetic to provide sedation during the extraction.

During the Extraction

To remove a wisdom tooth, the gum tissue must be cut open. The dentist will loosen the grip of the tooth slowly by wiggling it back and forth. He will keep doing this until the tooth can be lifted out of the gum tissue. If the tooth is tightly impacted, he may need to break the tooth up into little pieces in order to remove it. If necessary, sutures will be used to close the incision. Usually, soluble sutures will be used so that they will dissolve on their own.

After the Extraction

Once the extraction is complete, you will want to rest. You will need a family member or friend present to drive you home until the anesthetics wear off. The extraction site will most likely bleed for at least a little while. The dentist will apply gauze to slow the bleeding. He will provide more gauze so that you can switch it out if it becomes soaked with blood. Should the bleeding continue for 24 hours, you will need to call your dentist. Make sure to rest once you get home. Keep your head propped up in order to slow the flow of blood to the extraction area. Your dentist will give you a prescription for pain medication so that you can take it if necessary. An ice pack is also a good treatment to reduce any pain. In some cases, your dentist may provide a cleaning solution to keep the extraction site clean. You will want to be careful what you eat for several days following the extraction. Some gentle foods for your mouth would include gelatin, yogurt, pudding, mashed potatoes, thin soups, and ice cream. Basically, anything you can eat without chewing will be easier on your mouth. It is important that you not use a straw during this time. The sucking motion used on straws may loosen the sutures in your gums and prolong the bleeding. Smokers should also avoid smoking during this time.

You will want to call your dentist for additional advice if you experience prolonged bleeding, pain, or irritation. If you feel that the extraction site is not healing well, let your dentist know.