Are you feeling anxious about your dentist’s recommendation to undergo wisdom teeth removal? It may help to, first of all, get some perspective: at least you don’t have to undergo the removal of 232 wisdom teeth, as a teenager in India did. The result of a benign dental tumor, these “denticles” had all formed in the lower part of his jaw in the area where wisdom teeth are located. The surgery took six hours, but he recovered well and will have quite a story to tell for the rest of his life.
You, on the other hand, probably just have one set of teeth that require removal, and your surgery will take about an hour. Because this is a routine dental procedure, it will likely be unremarkable, and you will not have an epic story to tell–but that’s the point. Here is some information to allay your anxiety and help you with the preparation for your oral surgery.
Wisdom teeth: not always wonderful
Wisdom teeth, so named because they usually erupt during the late adolescent years (the “age of wisdom,” supposedly), are the molars at the rear of the mouth. They do not perform any necessary function, and usually cause more trouble than good.
Sometimes, because there is not enough room in most people’s mouths for this final set of molars, wisdom teeth will crowd other teeth. This causes teeth to become crooked.
At other times, wisdom teeth do not erupt at all–a condition called impaction–and instead move sideways against teeth below the gum line. If your dentist has recommended that you have your wisdom teeth removed, it is probably due to these two reasons.
Preparing for E(xtraction)-Day
Prior to your procedure, the oral surgeon will have you
fill out a medical questionnaire so that any health conditions or allergies are well documented
read over a set of instructions to follow prior to the surgery, such as to avoid eating after midnight the night before
arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home
The doctor may also review with you the medications you will be given as part of the anesthesia.
It will be over before you know it–really!
Once you arrive at your appointment, the assistant will make you comfortable. You will probably be given a sedative to help you relax, and the dentist will give you local anesthesia to numb your mouth. Then you will be given the general anesthesia that will put you to sleep.
While you are unconscious, the dentist will extract your teeth. If they are impacted, this will involve making incisions in your gums and then reaching in to pull the teeth out. Once the procedure is complete, you will be wheeled to a recovery area until you wake up.
When you wake up, you will feel groggy; this is why you need someone to drive you home. Once home, you may have some bleeding for the first few hours. Take the prescribed painkilling and/or anti-inflammatory medication suggested by the surgeon to reduce pain and swelling.
Do not use a straw or swish water in your mouth; doing either can dislodge the clots that form over the wounds and lead to a painful complication. Eat lightly for the first day or two, and then as tolerated. Your dentist may have other recommendations listed in the discharge instructions, so read and follow them carefully.
Remember, wisdom teeth extraction is less anxiety-producing if you are prepared, so if you still have questions, ask to speak directly to the oral surgeon.
Also, remember to maintain perspective: millions of wisdom teeth extractions are done each year without incident. Unlike the teen in India, your oral surgery will probably not result in 15 minutes of fame and a life story that will turn the stomachs of your listeners. And that should put everything in proper perspective.
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