You may be familiar with those pesky wisdom teeth that remain dormant for many years until they finally begin to come through and become a problem that needs to be removed. Wisdom teeth are the third and last molars to appear in the upper and lower jaw on either side of the mouth. You may not necessarily be able to determine whether your wisdom teeth need removal until a dental professional examines your mouth.
Wisdom teeth, unlike their name suggests, do not bestow wisdom on their hosts. In fact, not everyone develops the third set of molars, although most people have around four wisdom teeth on average. However, this being said, about 90% of individuals experience at least one impacted wisdom tooth, meaning the tooth doesn’t have enough space to break through the gums. Whether you’ve got one wisdom tooth or many more, simply ignoring the extra teeth should never be an option.
Wisdom Teeth: A Little History
Humans of prehistoric times faced a different environment and consumed foods that were much more coarse and harder to chew. In order to eat foods, such as raw meats, humans of the past had significantly larger and stronger jaws, and wisdom teeth played an important role in the consumption of their food. Unlike in the present day, where permanent teeth do not normally tend to be lost if they are well taken care of, the opposite was true for our ancestors.
Prehistoric humans would often lose teeth, which left enough room for a third set of molars to grow in. However, as humans evolved, our lifestyle is now significantly different from that which existed in prehistoric times. Many changes, including a diet of relatively tender foods and improvements in dental hygiene, means we have decreased the chances of losing our teeth. Although dental health has significantly improved in modern times, our wisdom teeth no longer have adequate space to erupt, which leads to a dilemma.
Wisdom Teeth Removal: The Recovery Process
If your wisdom teeth have erupted or are impacted, you may be referred to an oral surgeon to have them removed. Whether you experience symptoms such as swelling, pain, or are asymptomatic, wisdom teeth need to be monitored, so they don’t become infected. Wisdom teeth can lead to infections, tumours, or damage to adjacent teeth if ignored. If left untreated, many asymptomatic wisdom teeth can lead to periodontal disease, which, if escalated, can become life-threatening. If your wisdom teeth do need to be removed, there is nothing to fear. The removal procedure is commonly performed, and we’re here to help you recover with the following tips:
Plan, prepare, and rest
- Although pain and swelling post-procedure is normal, there are ways to help decrease any discomfort you may be feeling and ensure a successful and smooth recovery process. You can plan and prepare for your wisdom teeth removal by speaking with your oral surgeon before the procedure and understanding what to expect. Once you know what to expect, you can plan accordingly to undergo surgery when you have a few days off for recovery. You may also require someone to take you home after the surgery, and help you get settled immediately. By preparing meals before the procedure and taking a few days off, you can ensure that you maximize your resting time. It can be tempting to jump back on your feet as soon as possible, but you should try to rest and relax as much as possible instead to ensure successful healing, a quick recovery, and good long-term results.
Manage the bleeding with gauze and tea bags
- Unfortunately, you may experience some bleeding post-surgery. In order to help reduce the bleeding, you will be instructed to bite down on a piece of gauze. After about 12 hours, the gauze can be exchanged for a damp tea bag. The tannic acid in tea leaves helps to contract bleeding vessels, which can help reduce pain and promote clotting. In fact, a dry socket is one of the most common and preventable surgical complications and can be severely painful. A dry socket occurs when a newly-formed blood clot within the empty socket becomes dislodged and leaves bone and nerve endings exposed. Using tea bags to help promote clotting is a good way to avoid suffering from a dry socket.
Watch your diet
- There is nothing more enjoyable than warm comfort food while resting at home, but unfortunately, you will have to adjust your diet temporarily post-surgery. Once the bleeding has stopped, keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of lukewarm or cold fluids. Immediately after surgery, stick to a liquid diet consisting of broths and soups to help keep your strength up. You can gradually add softer solid foods to your diet. However, try to refrain from consuming spicy or hot foods, drinking carbonated drinks, and avoid using straws, so that your blood clot won’t become dislodged.
Keep your mouth open
- Your mouth may feel stiff post-surgery, which may deter you from keeping your mouth open. Unfortunately, not keeping your mouth open can lead to continual stiffness, so it’s essential to keep it open as much as possible. Try to open your mouth gently at first, and then keep your mouth open to avoid stiffness down the road.
Manage swelling and pain with saltwater
- Warm water and salt is a great disinfectant, which should be used to rinse your mouth several times a day, starting with the day after your surgery. Saltwater rinses are excellent ways to help reduce swelling and pain in your mouth after eating or drinking. It’s important to keep your mouth clean post-surgery by brushing to prevent food particles and bacteria from collecting in your mouth. Just be careful and avoid vigorous brushing around the blood clot.
Manage swelling and bruising with ice
- After your wisdom teeth removal, it’s normal to experience some swelling, bruising, and/or discomfort. The swelling can usually be expected to worsen before it begins to get better. It often peaks about 48-72 hours post-surgery and subsides within a week. This can be managed with the help of ice packs, which should be applied outside of the mouth intermittently. Alternatively, if your wisdom teeth were infected before removal, you may be advised to apply warm compresses instead of ice.
Take your prescribed medications
- Your surgeon will prescribe you some pain medications, as well as antibiotics. Remember to take your medications exactly as prescribed or ask a family member to dispense them for you on the first day when you may be slightly drowsy post-surgery. Avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, and consuming any alcohol if you are taking strong narcotics.
Follow the instructions
- Your oral surgeon has plenty of experience performing wisdom teeth removals. They understand all of the possible complications that could occur post-surgery and how to ensure your speedy recovery. Therefore, to ensure your health and safety, make sure you carefully follow all instructions provided to you by your oral surgeon.
Recovering from wisdom teeth removal surgery can be a slow and steady process. Still, it can be smooth and successful if you follow all your care instructions provided by your oral surgeon. It’s also important to keep up with your regular dental check-ups and cleanings so a dental professional can monitor your wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, as patients age and enter their 30s or 40s, the recovery process from post-wisdom teeth removal can be longer, and there is a greater risk of complications and risks during the procedure. Therefore, to avoid missing the ideal windows of opportunity, you should have your wisdom teeth removed early.
Our team of dedicated and experienced dental professionals are committed to helping you maintain your oral health for life at Bristol Dental Clinic. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort with your wisdom teeth or would simply like to have your teeth cleaned and examined, don’t hesitate to call Bristol Dental Clinic today at 905-712-3409 to book your appointment with us. We also invite you to visit our website here to learn more about the services we offer.