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What To Expect If You Need To Have Your Wisdom Teeth Surgically Removed

by Camila Davidson

Most adults will need to have their wisdom teeth removed. There's simply not enough room in the mouth for these teeth, so they end up getting impacted, pushing other teeth out of place, and causing pain. If you're lucky, your wisdom teeth will erupt at least partially so that your dentist can pull them with only a local anesthetic. Unfortunately, some people's wisdom teeth do not erupt at all and need to be removed surgically. Here's what to expect if you find yourself facing dental surgery to remove your wisdom teeth.

You may be given the choice between local and general anesthetics.

Most dentists perform wisdom tooth removal under general anesthesia by default. The procedure can be time-consuming and stressful, and it's simply easier for you not to be awake or aware while it is happening. However, you can sometimes have the surgery performed under local anesthesia with a strong sedative. If you've reacted badly to general anesthesia before or if your dental insurance won't cover general anesthesia, you may want to talk to your dental surgeon about the local anesthetic option.

Full recovery will take about a month.

It takes a little longer to heal after a surgical extraction than after the removal of a tooth that has erupted into the jaw. Most patients are entirely back to themselves within a month. During the first two or three days, you'll want to stick mostly to very soft foods. For the next two weeks, you'll want to avoid anything crunchy. After two weeks, your incisions will mostly be healed, but the area might still be a little sensitive. You can slowly begin working crunchier foods back into your diet as you feel comfortable doing so.

The main side effects to worry about are dry socket and infection.

Most patients recover from surgical wisdom tooth extractions just fine as long as they stick with soft foods for as long as recommended, avoid smoking, and rinse their mouths with salt water a few times per day. These protocols help prevent dry socket, a condition in which the blood clot falls out of the empty tooth socket, exposing the nerves. They also help prevent bacterial infections. 

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what to expect during and after a surgical wisdom tooth extraction. Don't hesitate to reach out to your dental surgeon if you have any additional concerns. They can be a great source of information.