If your wisdom teeth are causing you pain, they may need to be extracted.

From severe impaction to crowding and more, there are many reasons why your dentist may recommend that your wisdom teeth be removed. This common procedure can be the answer to your most challenging oral health issues, and luckily, it’s something Dr. Steven A. Lang is very familiar with.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars located in the very back of your mouth. They often begin to erupt during your late teens or early twenties, although not everyone’s wisdom teeth erupt, or break through the gums.

Why might your wisdom teeth need to be extracted?

If your wisdom teeth don’t have room to break through your gums and are impacted and causing you pain, your dentist will recommend that the teeth get extracted, or surgically removed, from your mouth.

An impacted wisdom tooth can grow in at a number of angles, including toward the tooth next to it, toward the back of the mouth, or even at a right angle to the other teeth in your mouth. Sometimes, wisdom teeth stay trapped in the jawbone because there is no room in the mouth for them to erupt.

Besides impacted wisdom teeth causing pain, there are other reasons why your dentist may recommend removing them, including:

  • An infection in the gums around the wisdom tooth
  • A cavity or tooth decay on the wisdom tooth
  • Not being able to brush wisdom teeth properly, which can cause food or debris to be trapped around the wisdom tooth
  • Any damage to the wisdom tooth, another tooth around it, or any part of the jawbone
  • If a cyst, or fluid-filled sac, develops around the tooth

Not all of your wisdom teeth may have to be removed. Sometimes only one or two of them are causing problems. Dr. Lang will discuss all of your options during a consultation if you are in need of a wisdom tooth extraction.

What to Know before Extraction

Most of the time, Dr. Lang will be able to perform the wisdom tooth extraction in his office. However, if the tooth or teeth in question are severely impacted, he may recommend you see an oral surgeon to perform the procedure.

Before the procedure, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • How many wisdom teeth need to be removed?
  • Will I just be numbed, or will I be sedated during the procedure?
  • How long will the procedure last?
  • Can I drive myself home after the procedure?
  • How long will it take for me to heal? Are there activities I can’t do or foods or drinks I need to avoid during the healing process?

Since each patient is different, Dr. Lang will take the time to answer all of these questions (and more) about how your extraction should go.

What Happens during Extraction

On the day of your wisdom tooth extraction, you’ll come into the office as scheduled. After you are taken back into the room, you’ll be given anesthesia as discussed previously with Dr. Lang. Most people require local anesthesia, but some may require sedation anesthesia.

Once you are prepared, Dr. Lang will cut into your gum tissue to expose the tooth and bone and remove the bone that is blocking access to the root of the wisdom tooth. Next, your tooth will be removed. Sometimes, the tooth is cut up into pieces if it makes it easier for Dr. Lang to remove it. Dr. Lang will then inspect the spot to make sure all of the tooth has been removed and there is no debris left behind. After that, if needed, the wound will be stitched closed to help it heal and prevent food debris from entering it. Finally, some gauze will be placed over the wound to help control the bleeding until a blood clot can form.

Recovering from Your Procedure

After your anesthesia has worn off a bit, you will be given instructions on how to help your mouth health.

It is common for there to be some bleeding for a few hours (up to a day) after your tooth extraction. Dentists recommend to avoid spitting and drinking from straws because those activities can cause the blood clot that has formed to dislodge from the wound and create a complication called “dry socket,” which is particularly painful. Your dentist will give you recommendations about how to replace the gauze and how often.

If you are in pain, an over-the-counter pain medication, like Tylenol, can be used. Your dentist may prescribe something stronger if you have to have a more in-depth extraction. You can also place an ice pack against your jaw to help with swelling and pain management. The swelling should go down in a day or two, but if there is bruising on your cheeks or jaw, that could take a few more days to go away.

After your wisdom tooth extraction, Dr. Lang will recommend you take the rest of the day to relax. Most people can resume their normal activity the very next day, but it is recommended to avoid any sort of activity that could jolt the blood clot from the socket.

As for what you can eat and drink after your wisdom tooth extraction, Dr. Lang recommends you drink plenty of water, but not with a straw. For the first 24 hours after your procedure, you should avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated, or hot beverages, including tea, and you should only eat soft foods, like applesauce, mashed potatoes, or yogurt. You can begin to eat semi-soft foods as you can tolerate them.

Finally, for the first 24 hours after your wisdom tooth extraction, you’ll be advised to not brush your teeth, use mouthwash, spit, or rinse your mouth. You can begin brushing your teeth about a day after your procedure, making sure to be gentle when brushing around your extraction site. For about a week, it is recommended that you rinse your mouth with a warm salt water mixture after you eat.

Consult with Dr. Lang If You Have Pain

If your wisdom teeth are causing you pain, you should make time to visit Dr. Lang as soon as possible. There is no reason you should be in pain! After an evaluation, Dr. Lang can talk to you about your treatment options. Give us a call or visit us online to schedule your consultation.