If your dentist has seen trouble brewing with your wisdom teeth and has recommended that you have them extracted, chances are that you’re a little nervous about the situation. After all, you’ve likely been told that wisdom teeth removal is a surgical procedure. Knowing what to expect during this typically very routine procedure and your recovery period afterwards can help ease your mind, making you less anxious and more comfortable throughout the process.

The reason that wisdom teeth removal is a very routine procedure is that most people will have trouble with them, making extraction necessary. Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last adult teeth to develop, and they erupt years after all others are in place, typically between the ages of 17 and 25. Space is generally the underlying problem, since the average size of the human jaw has gradually decreased over time, leaving less room for wisdom teeth than was common generations ago. With today’s advanced dental imaging, dentists can often foresee issues well before wisdom teeth erupt, allowing wisdom teeth removal to be done before pain and dental problems occur.

Wisdom Teeth Problems

Among the problems that can happen as wisdom teeth emerge are crowding and damage in adjacent teeth, wisdom teeth that erupt improperly – through the side of the gum, for instance – or impaction, which is when teeth remain trapped under the gum tissue completely or partially. In these situations, wisdom teeth removal is necessary to prevent secondary problems, such as pain, tooth decay, infection, gum disease and cysts, which can form around impacted teeth.

While every case is unique, wisdom teeth removal may be done with local anesthesia. If you are typically uncomfortable or anxious during dental work, sedation can be used to enhance your comfort. Impacted teeth or ones that have extensive root development may take up to an hour or more to remove. In more complex cases, your oral surgeon may suggest general anesthesia to ensure you are comfortable throughout the procedure.

Wisdom Teeth Removal: Recovery

Some pain and bleeding are to be expected after wisdom teeth removal, as is some swelling. Most find that over-the-counter pain medications are sufficient for post-surgery pain and swelling. Patients who take care to follow their oral surgeon’s aftercare instructions can expect to fully recover within 7 to 14 days on average, depending upon the complexity of their procedures and the number of wisdom teeth removed. Complications, although fairly unlikely, are possible and can include dry socket, a painful condition that happens when the blood clots meant to protect the socket during healing are dislodged prematurely, excessive bleeding at extraction sites and infection.

These are very general guidelines in regards to how long wisdom teeth removal and recovery may take. Your oral surgeon, who will be well-acquainted with your particular circumstances, can give you more specific details. Wisdom teeth removal is surgery, but it is a fairly simple procedure as a rule and not one that you have to feel too anxious over. It is one that just about everyone you know has had or will have with no serious problems. So relax, get prepared and get it done, and remember, once wisdom teeth are gone, it’s over. You’ll never have to do it again.

To schedule a wisdom teeth removal consultation, contact our office in the Washington, DC area at (202) 386-7100.