Third molars or “Wisdom tooth” extractions have become a more common and less traumatic procedure with advancements in technology and education. Wisdom teeth often cause problems as they try to erupt into the mouth. During eruption, a flap of tissue called the operculum, can trap food and bacteria leading to a painful infection called pericornitis. In many cases like this, extraction is the treatment of choice. When a wisdom tooth is “trapped” below the bone or tissues it is said to be impacted. An impacted tooth, means the tooth is coming in at an angle and is not capable of coming in properly. This can cause pain and inflammation in the tissues or even damage to the proximal teeth.
In these circumstances, extraction of these teeth is indicated. As with all procedures, proper planning is the highest priority. Infections should be brought under control, pre and post medications and instructions given. Impacted teeth may require 3 dimensional x-rays to insure that there is no proximity to vital structures like nerves and blood vessels. The goal is to provide the patient with the most efficient, safe and comfortable extraction.
After the surgery, you will need to rest. You need to be driven home by a friend or family member for your safety. You can expect for the extraction site to ooze for a little while after the surgery. Gauze will be placed on the extraction site at the completion of the surgery and you will need to change it when it becomes soaked. If bleeding continues for longer than 24 hours you should call your dentist. Rest when you return home, but do not lie flat. This could prolong the bleeding. Prop your head up on a pillow when lying down. Your dentist will prescribe pain medication as needed. You can also use an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain for the first 24 hours. The following day, use moist heat over the surgical area several times throughout the day.
You may be limited to soft foods for a few days after your surgery. Please do not use a straw, smoke or rinse vigorously as this may dislodge the clot resulting in a painful condition, commonly referred to as a dry socket. If there are any problems, questions or concerns, call as soon as possible.