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About Us < Dental Services < Wisdom Teeth Treament < Wisdom Teeth: the Operation and What to Expect Afterward
  Dr Minh Nguyen
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Wisdom teeth: the operation and what to expect afterward

The operation

Many people have their wisdom teeth removed under local anaesthesia by a general Houston dentist or oral surgeon. This means that they are awake, but the area around the wisdom tooth is completely numb. Sedative drugs can be given with local anaesthesia to help people relax during the procedure.

Some people have their wisdom teeth removed under IV sedation. This means that they are asleep throughout the procedure. Typically, patients are asked not to eat or drink for about six hours before IV sedation. However, some anaesthetists allow a few sips of water until two hours beforehand.

The operation will not start until the anaesthetic has taken effect. It is often necessary to make a small cut in the gum over the wisdom tooth, and to remove some bone so that the tooth can be lifted out. Stitches are usually put in to help the gum heal.

What to expect afterward?

It will be necessary to rest for a while after general anaesthesia or sedation. The jaw may feel stiff and sore, but painkillers will help to relieve discomfort.

Most people can go home as soon as they have recovered from the anaesthesia. However, if you have had general anaesthesia or sedation, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least 24 hours.

General anaesthesia can temporarily affect co-ordination and reasoning skills, so you should not drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery or sign legal documents for 48 hours afterwards.

You may be given painkillers, antibiotics and mouthwash solutions to take home. Once home, the painkillers should be taken as advised by the surgeon and nurses. Any pain, swelling or stiffness is usually at its worst two or three days after the operation and then gradually improves.

Do not vigorously rinse your mouth out during the first 24 hours because this disturbs the blood clots that are part of the healing process. After meals, rinse gently with warm salt water (one teaspoon of table salt to a glass).

At first, it may be possible to feel small fragments of bone with your tongue. These are the edges of the tooth socket and will soon disappear as the gum heals.

Depending on the type of stitches used, they may need to be removed (arrangements will be made for this to be done). If dissolvable stitches have been used, they will disappear 7 to 10 days after the operation.

To begin with, you should eat soft foods, gradually returning to a normal diet once any jaw stiffness has settled. Very hot drinks and spicy food can increase pain and bleeding and should be avoided until the gum has healed.

Drinking alcohol and smoking should also be avoided as they can increase bleeding and delay healing.

Anyone who experiences increased bleeding should fold a clean handkerchief or piece of gauze, place it on the bleeding gum and - in a sitting position - bite on it for at least 20 minutes. It is important not to rinse your mouth out or lie down.

Most people experience no problems following an operation to remove wisdom teeth. However, contact our Houston dentist or the hospital immediately if you develop any of the following:

  • bleeding that doesn't stop after applying pressure, or that lasts for more than half an hour
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • a face that continues to swell more than three days after the operation
  • a fever or high temperature
  • severe pain that is not relieved by painkillers

These symptoms may indicate that you have an infection or another problem.

You may also be interested in:

  1. What are the impacted wisdom teeth?
  2. Indications for Removing Wisdom Teeth.
  3. The Pro's and Con's of Wisdom Tooth Removal
  4. Alternatives to Extracting Wisdom Teeth
  5. Post Operative Care for Wisdom Teeth Extraction
  6. Wisdom of the Ages is Like Money in the Bank
  7. Information about intravous sedation (IV sedation)

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