9 Questions on Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery Answered
The decision to have your wisdom teeth (also known as third molars) removed is an important one. Whether your wisdom teeth are impacted or not, it’s a decision that will ‘impact’ your oral hygiene and habits for the rest of your life. To help demystify the procedure, we’ve put together a short FAQ about wisdom teeth removal surgery.
1. Why have my wisdom teeth removed?
Wisdom teeth are the final teeth to grow into the back of your mouth. In many cases, their emergence can be problematic, sometimes being impacted (meaning that they are not able to erupt naturally). This often has a negative impact on the adjacent teeth, resulting in pain and damage, amongst other problems. For many, impacted wisdom teeth do not cause any obvious problems, at least not to start; problems can often only develop years later.
For semi-impacted or semi-emerged wisdom teeth, however, due to their hard-to-reach location, they are the most difficult teeth to keep clean. This can result in regular cavities, tooth decay, and mild to severe infections, along with the problems that impacted teeth can cause.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that the removal of impacted teeth should be considered on a case-by-case situation and in certain cases it is not necessary to remove wisdom teeth at all– such a decision should be made by a specialist in the area. The Canadian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons states that “the position of the impacted wisdom tooth should dictate whether it should be taken out or not.” (Wendy Glauser, 2015)
2. When is the best time to have wisdom teeth removed?
There is debate about the optimal time to remove wisdom teeth if you’re not experiencing any problems. Doing so while younger, before turning 18 or 20, will result in a faster recovery but most importantly a safer and more predictable intervention. Also early removal often prevents the issues that can arise in the future allowing patients never to experience the potential consequences of problematic third molars.
Another advantage of removing wisdom teeth in a preventive manner is to allow patients the luxury of choosing the ideal time of the year to do so with the least disruption to their busy schedules. Hence, the summer is often the most popular time for this procedure in the student population. This allows patients to recover comfortably without the added stress and pressure of school responsibilities.
3. How are wisdom teeth removed?
Wisdom teeth surgery is one the most commonly performed surgery in the world, in the US alone approximately 5 million people undergo the surgery each year . When carefully executed by skilled and experience doctors it is a very safe and predictable procedure. It is recommended to have your wisdom teeth removed by a specialist trained in intra-venous sedation. This very simple and safe modality of anesthesia allows patients to go through the procedure in optimal comfort without any unpleasant feelings. Once the patient is comfortable, regular local anesthesia is also used and the teeth are carefully and delicately removed. Some self-melting stitches are placed after to avoid any bleeding and that is it.
4. What should I expect immediately after the procedure?
Since the local anesthetic lasts for a few hours after the procedure, very little discomfort is present. By taking the prescribed analgesics at the right time, most patients are able to control the discomfort associated with the procedure very well.
5. How long does bleeding last?
Most bleeding is controlled during the intervention and at the end of the procedure cotton gauzes are applied to put pressure on the extraction sites. A minimal oozing is usually present for the first few hours after the surgery and the use of carefully placed cotton gauzes should be sufficient to make it stop.
6. After surgery, will I need someone to drive me home?
If you were sedated, yes, you will need to have someone drive you home. If you received a local anesthesia this is not necessary, though many find it more comfortable. It is generally recommended to be escorted back home by an adult after surgery.
7. How long is the recovery?
If we define recovery as being the end of symptoms of the procedure, this is approximately 7-10 days. The discomfort tends to wear off after the third day and the swelling usually ends by around the seventh day. Of course, the more you ice the wound in the first 48 hours the faster the swelling disappears!
8. How long will I need to be on medication?
For most patients, three to seven days of analgesics and five to seven days of antibiotics are sufficient. It is important to remember that, even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms, you must take your medications for the full duration as recommended by your doctor.
9. Why should I choose to have my wisdom teeth removed by an Oral Surgery specialist?
Oral & Maxillofacial surgeons are dentists who go through an extra 5 years of post-graduate training to become experts in a wide variety of oral surgical procedures (ranging from jaw surgery, trauma reconstruction, dental implants and complex dental extractions). Specialists in oral surgery are trained in dealing with very complex and the standard removal of third molars. Thus providing the safest procedure possible for their patients with the least possible risks and complications. Furthermore, they are certified in the use of intra-venous sedation allowing their patients to have surgery in the most comfortable way possible. At Seaforth Oral Surgery in Montreal, our Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: Dr. Antoine Chehade and Dr. Marc Shenouda are ready to answer all your questions in relation to wisdom teeth removal surgery
Like most decisions, the more informed you are the better you are able to act. If you are considering having your wisdom teeth removed, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation at your earliest convenience. We are always ready and happy to help and wish you the best of luck in your decision! Please note that you do not need a referral from your dentist to come see us directly!