Experts estimate that it's not possible for up to 80 percent of people to keep their wisdom teeth. If your third molars do not fully erupt or become crooked, you could face continual problems with tooth decay and infections, so your dentist will almost certainly recommend an extraction. Nonetheless, wisdom tooth extraction surgery can often lead to several unwanted side effects. Plan effectively for wisdom tooth extraction and learn more about the steps you can take to counter five common post-surgery problems.
Wisdom tooth extraction surgery varies from one patient to another. In some cases, particularly for teens and younger patients, the process is often quite simple, and you may not experience too much pain. Where it's more difficult to remove the teeth, you may experience more severe pain in the days after the procedure.
Over-the-counter pain relief medication can help control moderate symptoms. For more complex extractions where the dentist removes bone as well as the tooth, it's a good idea to ask for a prescription pain medication. You can also apply a cold pack to the jaw to help reduce swelling and bruising. In most cases, you should expect any swelling to subside after two or three days.
During a wisdom tooth extraction, your dentist will normally make an incision in the gum tissue, which will generally result in bleeding. In some cases, the dentist will stitch the wound, but you will still probably experience some bleeding.
It's important to take certain steps to make sure you don't make the bleeding worse. Certain habits can dislodge the blood clot and increase bleeding, so you should avoid anything that may cause a problem. For the first few days after the surgery, you should avoid:
- Using a straw
It's also important to replace the gauze over the wound according to the instructions that your dentist gives you. If you take reasonable care, any bleeding should stop within a few days.
It's generally difficult to eat for a short period after wisdom tooth surgery. On the day of the surgery, you will experience numbness, but, after this subsides, the swelling will almost certainly still make it impossible to eat solid foods. What's more, chewing could dislodge the blood clot at the wound site, but it's still important that your body gets the vitamins and nutrients you need to promote rapid healing.
You don't need to limit yourself to a liquid diet, but you should plan meals that mean you don't need to chew your food. Fresh soups, smoothies and mousses can all offer tasty, nutritious meals, but you can also choose cottage cheese, scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes as an alternative. Avoid any foods that are hot or spicy, as certain ingredients can aggravate the wound.
Unfortunately, wisdom tooth surgery is likely to stop you doing the things you normally do for a few days, so it's important to take things easy. Plan surgery at a time when you can take a few days off work. Get plenty of rest and sleep, and avoid any physical activity. In some cases, even relatively mild exertion can dislodge a blood clot at the extraction site, which can delay healing.
Try to avoid lying flat, as this position can worsen and prolong bleeding. It's generally better to prop your head up with pillows.
Dry socket occurs when your jaw bone becomes inflamed because of problems with the blood clot at the extraction site. A dry socket can occur after any tooth extraction, but the problem affects around 20 percent of people after wisdom tooth removal. The condition is painful and delays healing, so it's important to avoid the problem wherever possible.
As well as the mechanical factors mentioned above, a dry socket can also occur because of a bacterial infection, so it's important to keep the wound site clean. You can't brush your teeth for the first 24 hours after surgery, but you can gently rinse with warm salt water. Good hygiene is particularly important in older patients, who are at higher risk of infection because of poor blood supply. Women are also generally at higher risk, particularly if they use oral contraceptives.
Wisdom tooth extraction surgery can result in several unpleasant side effects, but you can lessen the impact of these issues if you know how to deal with the problem. Prepare carefully for your surgery, and you can minimize the risk of unwanted complications. For more information about this and other dental procedures, check out the site of your local dentist.