Karrinyup Dental Centre

What to Expect Before, During, and After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Karrinyup Dental Centre

Written by:

Dr. Justin Soon

Published on:

What to Expect Before, During, and After Wisdom Teeth Removal

The extraction of wisdom teeth, often considered a rite of passage into adulthood, can bring about a mix of emotions and questions. Understanding what to expect before, during, and after the procedure can help alleviate any anxiety associated with it.

Wisdom teeth, your third set of molars, usually appear in your late teens or early twenties. For some, they are no problem; for others, they cause discomfort or even pain.

This guide aims to walk you through each stage of wisdom teeth extraction. By the end, you’ll know more about why this procedure is necessary, what happens during surgery, and how to recover.

Summary of The Content

  • Understanding why wisdom teeth need to be extracted helps ease patient concerns, addressing potential overcrowding, impaction, and infection risks.
  • Preparing for wisdom tooth surgery involves consulting with a dentist, arranging transportation, and adhering to pre-surgery instructions like fasting and preparing a recovery area.
  • The process includes anesthesia, potential tooth sectioning, and careful extraction, followed by site cleaning and possibly stitching for optimal healing.
  • Effective strategies and post-operative care for wisdom teeth removal are crucial for recovery. These strategies involve rest, ice packs for swelling, and eating soft foods to avoid complications.
  • Managing pain post-extraction includes using prescribed medications and home care tips. These include cold compresses and saltwater rinses to reduce discomfort and swelling.

Understanding Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure that many face as they move into adulthood. Let’s explore why these molars often need to be extracted.

Most people’s wisdom teeth (third set of molars) come between the ages of 17 and 25. For some people, these teeth emerge without problems and align well with their other teeth. However, for many others, wisdom teeth can cause significant issues that make extraction necessary. The primary reasons for extracting wisdom teeth include:

  • Lack of Space:
    Most people’s mouths can comfortably hold 28 teeth, which is what they have before their wisdom teeth come in. Adding four more can crowd and misalign your existing teeth, sometimes undoing years of orthodontic work.
  • Impaction:
    Wisdom teeth can often be impacted, meaning they are trapped under the gum or in the jawbone. This can make the gums around the tooth hurt, swell, and get infected.
  • Angle of Growth:
    Sometimes, wisdom teeth grow at an awkward angle, potentially damaging adjacent teeth. This misalignment can result in difficulties with biting, chewing, and daily oral hygiene.
  • Cysts and Tumors:
    In some cases, cysts or tumours can form around the new teeth. If these are not addressed, they can cause serious harm to the jawbone and healthy teeth.

Understanding these reasons can comfort patients, as the wisdom tooth extraction process is often a preventive measure to avoid future dental complications. By getting rid of potentially problematic wisdom teeth, dentists aim to preserve the alignment of existing teeth.

Preparing for Your Wisdom Tooth Surgery

Preparing for wisdom tooth surgery can make the experience much less stressful. Here are some essential steps so that your procedure goes smoothly.

  • Schedule a Pre-Operative Consultation:
    Before your surgery, you’ll have a consultation with your dentist. This is a crucial step where you can discuss any oral health issues and review your dental X-rays. Share your dental history and any medications you are taking, as these can influence your treatment plan.
  • Arrange for Transportation:
    Due to the probable influence of anaesthesia, you will require someone to drive you home to and from your surgery. Organise this ahead of time to avoid last-minute stress.
  • Follow Pre-Surgery Instructions:
    Your dental team will provide specific instructions to follow before the surgery. These often include fasting—avoiding food and sometimes water—for several hours before the procedure if you’re going to be sedated.
  • Prepare Your Recovery Area:
    Set up a comfortable space at home where you can rest after the surgery. Stock up on soft foods, such as yoghurt, pudding, and soup, which are easy on your mouth post-surgery. Also, have some ice packs ready to help with swelling.
  • Avoid Certain Medications and Supplements:
    Your dentist may tell you to avoid taking certain supplements or medicines that can increase bleeding during surgery.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothing:
    Choose loose-fitting clothes and avoid anything with a collar that might interfere with dental equipment or access to your mouth.

Proper preparation not only eases your mind but also aids in a smoother recovery process. By taking these steps, you can approach your wisdom tooth surgery with confidence.

The Wisdom Tooth Extraction Process Explained

Understanding the steps involved in the wisdom tooth extraction process can help reduce any anxiety you might feel about the procedure. Here’s what to expect throughout the process:

  • Sedation Options:
    Depending on the complexity of the case and your comfort level, your dentist may use conscious sedation. Local anesthesia will also be used to control the pain.
  • Tooth Exposure:
    If the wisdom tooth is impacted or under the gums, the dentist might need to cut through the gum tissue. This is done carefully to avoid affecting the surrounding nerves or structures.
  • Taking Out Bone:
    Sometimes, bone obstructs the tooth root. In such cases, the dentist will take this out to access the tooth.
  • Sectioning the Tooth (if necessary):
    If the wisdom tooth is large or positioned awkwardly, it may be cut into smaller pieces to make it easier to extract. This technique minimises the amount of bone that needs to be taken out. This also reduces the risk of disturbing nearby teeth and nerves.
  • Tooth Extraction:
    Using precise instruments, the dentist will gently wiggle the tooth (or pieces of the tooth) free from its socket. This step is carried out with great care to cause the least discomfort and disruption.
  • Cleaning and Stitching:
    Once the tooth is extracted, the extraction site is cleaned of any debris from the tooth or bone. If necessary, stitches may be used to help the healing process. These stitches usually dissolve on their own after a few days.
  • Recovery:
    Immediately after the extraction, you will be taken to a recovery area where you can rest as the anaesthesia wears off. The dental team will monitor your recovery and provide instructions on how to care for the extraction site.

By familiarising yourself with these steps, you can feel more prepared and less worried about your upcoming wisdom tooth extraction. Your dental team is trained to handle this carefully and will do everything to provide a safe and successful outcome.

The Recovery Stage After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Recovering from wisdom teeth removal is a crucial step towards a swift return to your daily activities. Here are some effective tips for a smooth recovery period:

  • Rest:
    Take it easy for the first 24 hours after the procedure. Do not do any rigorous activities that could make the bleeding or swelling worse.
  • Keep Your Head Elevated:
    For the first few nights, use additional pillows to keep your head elevated. This position can help reduce swelling.
  • Hydration and Diet:
    Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Eat soft foods like soups, yoghurts, and applesauce initially. Gradually reintroduce solid foods as healing progresses.
  • Oral Hygiene:
    To keep the extraction site clean, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times a day, especially after eating. Avoid brushing directly at the site for the first few days to prevent irritation.
  • Avoid Sucking Motions:
    Do not use straws, as the sucking motion can dislodge the blood clot that forms in the socket. This can result in a painful condition called a dry socket.
  • Follow Dentist Instructions:
    It’s important to follow all of the dentist’s advice when preparing for wisdom tooth surgery to prevent complications. Take any prescribed medications, including pain relievers and antibiotics, as directed by your dentist to prevent complications of infection and manage pain.
  • Avoid Smoking and Alcohol:
    Smoking can significantly slow healing and increase the potential risk of complications, while alcohol can interfere with any medications you may be taking.

Post-operative care for wisdom teeth removal is key to avoiding complications and speedy recovery. Adhering to these guidelines can greatly enhance your comfort and promote healing after wisdom teeth surgery.

Managing Pain and Swelling After Extraction

Pain and swelling are common after wisdom teeth extraction, but managing them effectively can help you have a more comfortable recovery.

  • Cold Compresses:
    Apply ice packs to your cheeks periodically to help reduce swelling and bruising. Use the ice packs, especially during the first 48 hours.
  • Pain Medication:
    Over-the-counter pain relievers can significantly reduce discomfort. Always follow the dosage instructions provided by your dentist or doctor.
  • Keep Upright:
    Try to sit upright and avoid lying flat. This position helps decrease swelling.
  • Soft Foods:
    To minimise discomfort during eating, eat soft, non-irritating foods for a few days after surgery. Examples include smoothies, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs.
  • Salt Water Rinses:
    Starting 24 hours after surgery, rinse with warm salt water several times a day to reduce swelling and soothe sore gums.
  • Avoid Hot Foods and Beverages:
    Hot foods and beverages can increase blood flow and make swelling worse, so stick to cool or room temperature foods.

Managing discomfort and swelling effectively involves following these simple steps, which can help ease your recovery from wisdom tooth surgery. By taking care of yourself and monitoring your healing process, you can bounce back more quickly and with fewer complications.

Foods to Eat and Avoid After Wisdom Teeth Removal

After wisdom teeth removal, choosing the right foods is crucial for a smooth and speedy recovery.

Foods to Eat

  • Smoothies:
    Packed with vitamins and minerals, smoothies are gentle on your mouth. It can be enriched with protein powder or yoghurt for added nutrition.
  • Broths:
    Warm (not hot) broths provide hydration and nourishment without requiring chewing.
  • Mashed Potatoes:
    Soft and easy to consume, mashed potatoes can be flavoured with gravy or butter for additional calories.
  • Scrambled Eggs:
    A soft source of high-quality protein that’s easy on a sensitive mouth.
  • Applesauce:
    No chewing is required, and it provides some fibre.
  • Yoghurt:
    Cool and smooth, yoghurt helps soothe the oral cavity and is a good source of protein.
  • Pudding and Custard:
    Easy to eat with a spoon and can satisfy sweet cravings.

Foods to Avoid

  • Crunchy Snacks:
    Chips, popcorn, and similar snacks can irritate the wound or become lodged in the site.
  • Spicy Foods:
    Spices may aggravate the extraction site and cause discomfort.
  • Chewy Foods:
    Bagels and gummy candies require too much chewing and can pull on the stitches.
  • Alcoholic Beverages:
    Alcohol can interfere with the healing process and some medications.
  • Very Hot Foods and Liquids:
    These can cause discomfort, bleeding, and swelling.

Adjusting your diet after surgery not only helps prevent complications but also enhances your comfort while you heal. Stick to soft, nourishing foods and avoid anything that might disrupt the recovery area. If you’re unsure about what to eat, talk to your dentist for personalised recommendations based on your specific needs.

The Role of Follow-Up Visits in Your Recovery

Follow-up visits are a crucial aspect of your recovery process after wisdom teeth extraction.

  • Monitoring Healing:
    Your dentist needs to check that your wounds are healing properly without gum infection.
  • Taking Out Stitches:
    If non-dissolvable stitches were used, you’ll need a quick visit to have them taken out.
  • Managing Complications:
    Follow-up appointments allow your dentist to catch and address any potential complications early, such as dry socket or nerve damage.
  • Adjusting Dental Treatment Plans:
    Depending on your healing process, your dentist might adjust your pain management plan or recommend additional care steps.
  • Peace of Mind:
    These visits confirm that everything is progressing well and that you are on track for a full recovery.

These check-ups are key to a smooth and successful healing process. They help in recovery and allow for immediate action if there are any issues.

When to Contact Your Dentist Post-Surgery

It’s important to know when to seek help during the recovery phase after wisdom teeth extraction.

  • Persistent Pain:
    If the pain doesn’t improve with prescribed medication or worsens over time, it might indicate an infection or dry socket.
  • Excessive Bleeding:
    While some bleeding is normal immediately after surgery, contact your dentist if it continues for more than 24 hours.
  • Signs of Infection:
    Fever, severe swelling, pus from the extraction site, or a bad taste in your mouth could all be signs of infection.
  • Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing:
    If you experience trouble swallowing or breathing, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Unusual Discharge:
    Your dentist should examine any unexpected discharge from the extraction site.
  • Numbness:
    Persistent numbness or loss of sensation in your lips, chin, or tongue could indicate nerve damage, which requires prompt professional assessment.

If you experience any of these symptoms after your surgery, don’t hesitate to contact your dental clinic. A quick response can prevent further complications and promote faster healing.

Final Thoughts

Being well-informed about each phase of the wisdom tooth extraction process—from preparation to recovery—can make all the difference. Understanding how to manage your post-operative care for wisdom teeth removal effectively can ease your experience and enhance your healing.

If you have any questions or need further clarification about wisdom teeth extraction, we encourage you to reach out. Schedule a consultation with us at Karrinyup Dental Centre to discuss your specific needs and concerns. Our team is here to provide you with professional advice and compassionate care.

Visit our website or give us a call today to book your appointment. We’re here to help you achieve the ideal outcome and achieve a speedy recovery.

Dr. Justin Soon


Dr. Justin Soon

Dr. Justin completed his Bachelor of Dental Surgery at the University of Western Australia. Dr Justin completed his surgical implant training under the mentorship of Dr. Glen Liddelow, Dr. Graham Carmichael, and Dr. Brent Allan at the Branemark Centre.

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