Wisdom teeth are the third molars located in the back of the mouth. There’s an interesting reason why they are called wisdom teeth. Most people have four wisdom teeth, one each on the left and right side in the upper and lower jaw. If your dentist has recommended having one or more wisdom teeth extracted, you might be wondering how you should prepare for wisdom teeth removal. The following tips will help you sail through the appointment and recovery at home.
Is there a reason to remove wisdom teeth?
You may need your wisdom teeth extracted if there isn’t enough space in your mouth to accommodate them. Wisdom teeth can get stuck under the gum or erupt only partially. When a tooth cannot fully break out of the gums, it is called an impacted wisdom tooth. Sometimes, wisdom teeth come out at an angle, causing damage to the adjacent teeth. This can lead to overcrowding, making it difficult for you to keep the area clean. Food and bacteria can get trapped around impacted wisdom teeth, causing dental problems like tooth decay (dental caries), dental abscess, and gum disease.
How do you know if wisdom teeth are impacted?
Only a dentist can tell you if your wisdom teeth are impacted by taking a dental x-ray. Impacted wisdom teeth sometimes cause symptoms such as gum pain, swelling and redness, pain in the upper or lower jaw, crowding or shifting of teeth, tooth decay in the adjacent second molars, and cysts in the jawbone around the impacted tooth. Your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal even if you don’t have any symptoms to prevent complications in the future. Worried about what the procedure involves? Here’s some information on what to expect with wisdom teeth extraction.
How should I prepare for wisdom teeth removal?
How you prepare for wisdom teeth removal depends on whether you are having the extraction done by a dentist or an oral surgeon. Impacted wisdom teeth sometimes need to be removed with a more complex surgical procedure that is done under anesthesia. While this is also an outpatient procedure, if you are having it done with sedation or anesthesia, there are a few extra things to keep in mind when you prepare for wisdom teeth removal.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for wisdom teeth removal:
- Pick up your prescriptions (pain medications and antibiotics) beforehand.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home.
- Take 1-2 days off work or school for wisdom tooth recovery.
- Keep ice packs handy to help with bruising and swelling after wisdom teeth extraction.
- Stock up on drinks and bland, soft foods like soup and eggs. You will need to avoid hard, crunchy, and spicy foods for a few days after wisdom tooth removal.
- Make sure you have some extra pillows to sleep comfortably after wisdom teeth removal.
- Stop smoking at least 12 hours and preferably 2 weeks before your wisdom tooth removal because smoking can delay healing.
If you are anxious about wisdom tooth extraction, be sure to tell your dentist or oral surgeon and they will take extra measures to keep you comfortable. Also, read these tips on dealing with dental anxiety.
Will the type of anesthesia affect how I prepare for wisdom teeth removal?
Yes, the type of anesthesia will affect how you prepare for wisdom teeth removal. Your dentist will give you detailed information, but here’s a brief overview of the different options:
Local anesthesia: This is a numbing medicine that is given by injection into the local area of gum where the wisdom tooth will be extracted. You remain awake during the procedure. There is nothing special you need to do to prepare for wisdom teeth extraction using local anesthesia.
Intravenous sedation: This is a method in which the dentist starts an IV line in an arm vein and gives you medications to relax you. You are semi-awake during the procedure. However, if you have a lot of anxiety or a strong gag reflex, your dentist may offer deep sedation. In this case, you will get special instructions on how to prepare for wisdom teeth removal. Also, you will be monitored for a short time in the dental clinic after the extraction before you can go home.
General anesthesia: This is reserved for deeply impacted wisdom teeth. It is administered through an IV or a mask on your nose and mouth. You are unconscious during the procedure. To prepare for wisdom teeth removal with general anesthesia, you will need to avoid eating or drinking anything after midnight on the night prior to your surgery.
If you suspect your wisdom teeth need to come out, don’t delay seeing a dentist. Express Dentist has a nationwide network of trusted dental professionals. Call us today and we will put you in touch with a dentist in your area. If you have further questions about how to prepare for wisdom teeth removal, call us and we will put you in touch with a dentist who can answer your questions.
About the author
Dr. Greg Grillo
Dr. Greg Grillo DDS studied at the University of Washington where he received a bachelors degree with Honors and later attended dental school on the same campus. Following school Dr. Greg served in the United States Navy as a dental officer. During this time he received advanced training in specialty areas of dentistry while also treating families of members of the military.
As well as sharing valuable information on dentistry and oral health, Dr. Greg remains a practicing dentist to this day. He works with families in the Okanogan Valley where he lives with his wife and three children.