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What is wisdom tooth extraction like?
Assuming that we are taking out an impacted, partially erupted lower wisdom tooth. Not all wisdom teeth requires surgery, some may only require a simple extraction (refer to link here).
What to do on the day of your wisdom tooth surgery?
There is no need to fast before the procedure. However, do get something to eat because you won’t be able to eat for 2-3 hours later.
What to expect on the day of your surgery?
Turn up at the clinic ahead of time as registration may take some time The procedure will take place on a normal dental chair.
The surgeon will see you at this time. He/she will go through your X-rays, medical history.
The risks of wisdom tooth removal will be explained again (click here for risks of wisdom tooth surgery) Sit on the chair - local anesthetic will be administered.
You will then be draped up with some cloth covering your face and hair. This is to keep the operating site clean from contamination.
Once the numbness sets in - we are all ready to start! You should not feel any pain during the procedure (click here for article - does wisdom tooth surgery hurt?)
What to expect during the wisdom tooth extraction?
Although you will not feel pain during the procedure, you will feel some pressure throughout the surgery. Remember, the anesthetic only numbs the sensation of pain and NOT the complete sensation of touch and pressure.
You may also hear some drilling and cracking noises during the surgery. These noises are due to the surgeon removing the bone. Cracking noises occur because the tooth sometimes has to be divided during the surgery and have to be removed in separate pieces.
Although these noises may be distressing - just relax! Request to listen to some music.
The entire process may take between 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how complex your case is.
After the wisdom tooth is removed, the area will be stitched up and you will be told to bite down on some gauze.
What to expect after the wisdom tooth removal?
In the immediate aftermath of the surgery, you should feel totally numb as the anesthetic will still be in full effect. You will usually be prescribed painkillers and antibiotics.
I like to tell my patients to take the first dose of painkillers before the anesthetic has worn off so that you will be more comfortable.
After the anesthetic has worn off, you should expect to feel some discomfort over 2-3 days. The discomfort should not be too great, and you will have painkillers to manage the discomfort.
The area will start to swell after the surgery. The swelling will peak on the second to third day - this is the body’s mechanism to promote healing at the surgical site. It sould gradually subside after the third day.
What to do post surgery?
Rest! You will usually be given 3-5 days of medical leave for wisdom tooth surgery so please stay at home and recover.
Eat soft foods so that the surgical site will not be traumatised. Porridge is usually a good choice.
Take cold foods! If you like ice cream, this is the perfect excuse to indulge. Cold foods help to reduce inflammation and can help with the pain.
Try to brush your teeth as per normal. Of course, the extraction site will feel sore so be careful around that area. However do not neglect the health of your other teeth.
You will usually be given a syringe to wash the surgical site. Food tends to be trapped at that area so it is important to keep it clean to ensure that infections do not happen .
What to avoid?
Avoid vigorous gargling! This will dislodge the blood clot and cause the area to bleed.
Hot foods. Hot foods may dissolve the blood clot causing he area to bleed.
Spicy foods - tends to irritate the area and cause pain
Avoid vigorous exercise for the duration of your medical leave.
Vigorous activities cause an increase in blood pressure, and may make the wound site more prone to bleeding.
When to seek medical attention?
You will usually be given an appointment 1 week after the surgery to review the healing site and remove the stitches.
Mild bleeding is expected over the area over 2-3 days after wisdom tooth extraction. Do not be overly concerned.
However, if you encounter significant bleeding, do seek medical attention as soon as possible.