Wisdom teeth recovery

Inquiétude vis-à-vis les dents de sagesseYour dentist said that you need to remove your wisdom teeth? Don’t panic, lots of people have to go through this procedure. But knowing what to expect after the surgery can help you calm down and recover more easily.

Your dentist has, or will explain all that, but let’s go through the recovery instructions in details:

  • Eat a light meal an hour or two before your appointment. Do you go to your appointment with an empty stomach, and do not eat a very heavy meal if you will have intravenous sedation.
  • Make sure you have a couple of days off after your appointment to rest after the surgery.
  • If you took medications or if the dentist used sedation, make sure there is someone who will drive you home after.
  • After the procedure, leave the gauze in your mouth and bite on it for pressure, do this for at least 30 minutes or the time that your mouth bleeds.
  • If the bleeding persists for more the 30 minutes, or if it starts again later in the evening, use more gauze, or bite down on a wet tea bag which works even better. Tannic acid found in tea helps reduce bleeding. It is normal if you wake up the following day and that your saliva is reddish from blood.
  • For the first 24 hours, eat soft foods that are not too warm nor too cold.
  • Rinse with warm water and sea salt, but starting 24 hours after your wisdom teeth have been removed, not the same day. The recipe is 1 teaspoon of sea salt in 1 glass (250 ml) of warm water.
  • Use ice the first 24 hours on your face to reduce the swelling. If you do not have ice, use bags with frozen vegetables instead. If the procedure was difficult, swelling will occur and you might also see colour change on the skin.
  • Have a couple of pillows under your head when sleeping. This will help reduce the swelling.
  • Take your antibiotics and pain killers as prescribed by your dentist.
  • Do not smoke for 48 to 72 hours! Smoking introduces toxins to the extraction site and can also dislodge the clots, which can cause dry socket.
  • Do not use a straw to sip on liquids, as the pressure caused from the sipping can also dislodge clots and lead to dry socket.
  • Do not spit, as the pressure can also dislodge the clots. If there is blood in your mouth, let it flow down your mouth and then wipe your lips.
  • Do not play sports for 24 to 48 hours.
  • Do not use mouthwash for 24 hours.

After one week, you should feel much better. Your gums will slowly get back to normal, and some people might feel like it’s totally healed. But put in mind the total healing time takes about 3 months, and during that time food can be stuck in the sockets and you need to rinse with salted water to clean them.

What is the worst that can happen if wisdom teeth are not removed?

Wisdom Tooth X-RayIf a dentist recommends removing wisdom teeth, it would be unwise to delay the surgery indefinitely. To do so may invite a variety of problems including damage to adjacent structures, such as sensory nerves, the maxillary sinus, and alveolar bone. Postponed wisdom teeth removal may be more complicated and require a longer recovery period. Additionally, damage caused by wisdom teeth to adjacent teeth and structures may not be easily repaired.

Tooth Decay

Keeping the back of the mouth clean with daily brushing and flossing is difficult in the best of circumstances. When wisdom teeth are present, good oral hygiene in this area is very difficult; a situation that often leads to cavities. Research has shown that more young adults have decay in the wisdom tooth area than previously thought.

Gum Disease

Wisdom teeth are not like other teeth in that they generally do not have adequate space to erupt. This is due not only to limited space, but also to the fact that gum tissues in the area are not designed to attach to the tooth in a normal way like other teeth. No matter how well someone maintains oral hygiene, it is very tough to keep the wisdom tooth area clean and bacteria free. Bacterial infection and inflammation often results in gum disease that can affect neighbouring teeth.

Involvement of adjacent structures

A young adult’s wisdom teeth generally have incomplete root systems, making surgery relatively uncomplicated. As wisdom teeth mature, their roots lengthen and may become involved with the surrounding structures such as sensory nerves or the maxillary sinus. In such cases, surgery may trigger a greater chance of complications.

Cyst and tumour formation

A fully impacted wisdom tooth sits in the jawbone surrounded by the sac in which teeth develop. Over time, however, this sac may enlarge and even develop unhealthy changes in the cells from which it is made. Problems occur when the sac surrounding the impacted tooth becomes filled with fluid and enlarges to form a cyst. As the cyst grows it may damage the jaw, neighbouring teeth and other surrounding structures. Very rarely, tumours develop from the same tissues that surround an impacted tooth, requiring extensive surgery and reconstruction.

What if wisdom teeth are kept?

If wisdom teeth are kept despite the fact that the dentist or the maxillofacial surgeon advised to remove them, it is important to monitor their health and condition regularly. X-rays and clinical examination should be done in the area every two years. Particular care of brushing and flossing of the area should also be taken into account.

See also in French.

Top ten reasons to remove your wisdom teeth

Wisdom ToothTop 10 reasons to remove wisdom teeth:

10. Because there is limited space for wisdom teeth to erupt and because the surrounding gums are difficult to keep clean. Infection and inflammation are therefore common even when there are no apparent symptoms.

9. Even when wisdom teeth erupt through the gum tissues, they rarely provide any meaningful function and are always difficult to keep clean.

8. Wisdom teeth have high risk of getting cavities on them because they are very hard to clean while brushing and flossing.

7. In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth develop cysts, and rarely tumours. Removal of such lesions may require extensive procedures to repair and restore jaw function and appearance.

6. With age, the chance for complications related to the removal of wisdom teeth increases.

5. Gum disease and inflammation associated with wisdom teeth may lead to receding gum tissues, deterioration of the jawbone and tooth loss.

4. Wisdom teeth may contribute to crowding of nearby teeth.

3. Even wisdom teeth that seem to be problem-free remain a breeding ground for oral infection and inflammation. Research supports the concept that such inflammation may enter the bloodstream and contribute to the development and/or progression of a variety of diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

2. Once it has been determined that a wisdom tooth will not successfully erupt into your mouth and be maintained in a healthy state, early extraction of wisdom teeth is associated with faster and easier recovery.

1. The number one reason for removing wisdom teeth: Peace of mind!

Source: American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

See also in French.