All About Wisdom Tooth Removals

Many people need to have some or all of their wisdom teeth extracted at some point in their life. Tooth extractions are a standard procedure for our Kemptville & Kanata dentists. Learn everything you'll need to know about wisdom tooth removals .

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Why Wisdom Tooth Extractions Are Necessary

Most adults have four wisdom teeth that grow at the back of their mouth, and generally appear between the ages of 17 and 25. For some people, wisdom teeth are able to grow in normally. For others, any number of these wisdom teeth might not have enough room to grow in properly. When this is the case, the wisdom tooth becomes impacted. An impacted tooth can grow in a number of ways:

  • At an angle towards the neighbouring tooth
  • At an angle towards the back of the mouth
  • Grow at a 90 degree angle towards the neighbouring tooth as it's laying within the jawbone.
  • Straight up or down while remaining trapped in the jawbone.

In some cases, an impacted wisdom tooth might not cause any complications. In other cases, complications arise later in life. In most cases, it is best to have an impacted wisdom tooth extracted to prevent any dental emergencies from arising in the future.

Woman in a dental chair massaging her jaw because of tooth pain.

Issues Caused By Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth can lead any combination of the following complications:
  • Pain in the mouth & jaw.
  • Food & debris becoming trapped behind the impacted wisdom tooth.
  • Infection and/or gum disease
  • Tooth decay if the wisdome tooth has partially erupted (exposed through the gums).
  • Damage to the neighbouring tooth and surrounding bone structure.
  • Development of cysts around the wisdom tooth
  • Negative impact on orthodontic treatments to straighten teeth like braces and Invisalign.

Preventative Wisdom Tooth Extractions

Extracting wisdom teeth for preventative reasons is something that is often recommended. Just because impacted wisdom teeth aren't causing problems at the moment doesn't mean they won't in the future. Impacted wisdom teeth can still harbour disease even if someone is asymptomatic, and older adults are more likely to experience complications with the extraction procedure and recovery process. it is generally best to remove impacted wisdom teeth early, while it is easiest.

Preparing For The Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure

There are a few things a dentist or oral surgeon will ask a patient to do in the days leading up to the wisdom tooth removal procedure:

Preparing The Home For Recovery

Once the procedure is complete, patients will be required to rest and recover for a few days. Making sure the home is set up and ready for patients to be comfortable while they recover helps the process. They will also be limited to soft foods and beverages for the initial days of recovery, so stocking up on things like smoothies, ice cream and mashed potatoes before hand is a good idea.

Discussing Medical History

Patients will need to discuss aspects of their medical history with the dentist or oral surgeon. They will need to discuss prescription medications and whether they can be taken before the procedure, as well as their history of recreational drug and alcohol use. These are things that can have an impact on a patient's ability to handle dental sedation properly and the dentist or oral surgeon will need to know this information to decide on the best course of action for the procedure.

The Day Before Your Procedure

It is important for patients to arrange a ride to and from the clinic as they will not be allowed to drive themselves due to the effects of the dental sedation. This could be a family member, a friend, coworker, taxi or rideshare app like Uber. Under no circumstances are patients allowed to drive following a wisdom tooth removal procedure.

Smokers will be asked to refrain from smoking for the 12 hours leading up to the procedure. Smoking can cause the patient to require more anesthetic to be sedated which presents a greater risk to the patient. Better yet, patients should use this as an opportunity to quit smoking.

Finally, patients will be asked not to eat anything after midnight on the day before their procedure. This recommendation is made for the safety of the patient. Receiving anesthetic when there is food in the stomach increases the risk of that food being regurgitated while lying in the dental chair. In this position, the regurgitated food can make its way into the patient's airway more easily and cause major complications or even suffocation.

The Wisdom Tooth
Removal Procedure

A wisdom tooth removal procedure is a surgical procedure that is performed by a dentist or oral surgeon. It is generally performed as an outpatient procedure which means patients can go home after surgery. The procedure for wisdom tooth removals can be broken down into these eight steps:

  • Step 1: The dentist or oral surgeon administers dental sedation if necessary.
  • Step 2: An incision is made in the gums to expose the tooth and bone.
  • Step 3: Bone that is blocking the root of the tooth is removed if necessary.
  • Step 4: The tooth is divided into smaller pieces if it is easier to remove that way.
  • Step 5: The tooth is removed.
  • Step 6: The site of the removed tooth is cleaned to remove any debris from the bone or tooth.
  • Step 7: The removal site is stitched closed to promote healing.
  • Step 8: Gauze is placed on the stitched removal site to control bleeding and help a blood clot to form.
Man with a nasal gas mask being sedated before dental work.
dental care in kemptville

After The Wisdom Tooth Extraction Procedure

In order to make the recovery process go as smoothly as possible, there are a few instructions that a dentist or oral surgeon will give to the patient.

Manage Bleeding

Some bleeding for the first couple of days following wisdom tooth removal is normal. Simply replace the gauze on the extraction site as directed by the dentist or oral surgeon. It is also important to avoid excessive spitting or sucking on things like candy or straws to keep the blood clot from becoming dislodged.

Pain Management

Some pain and discomfort following the procedure is also a normal occurrence, especially if bone has been removed. Pain can be managed by using an ice pack on the site to reduce swelling, taking over the counter pain medications like Tylenol or Advil, or other pain medications can be prescribed. It is imperative for patients to discuss options with their doctor and dentist and follow their instructions when taking any medications.

Avoid Strenuous Activity

After the procedure, patients can expect to be told to stay in bed and rest for the rest of the day. They can return to normal activities the next day, but will need to avoid heavy lifting and other strenuous activities that could cause the blood clot to become dislodged.

Food & Beverages

Patients will need to alter their diet following the procedure. For the first 24 hours, only soft foods like apple sauce, yogurt and ice cream can be eaten. Semi-soft foods can be worked in after that as the patient's ability to tolerate it without pain increases. Hard, chewy, hot and spicy foods should be avoided as they can cause irritation in the extraction site.

Patients should drink plenty of water while they are in recovery. For the first 24 hours following the procedure, patients should avoid carbonated drinks, caffienated drinks, hot drinks and alcoholic beverages. They should also avoid drinking from a straw as the sucking action can cause the blood clot to become dislodged.

Middle aged man about to take a bite from an apple.
Yazdani dental technician

Tobacco Use

While it is best to quit using tobacco products entirely, patients will need to abstain from consuming them following their wisdom tooth removal procedure. Tobacco products slow down the healing process, and increase the risk of complications arising. Smokers need to avoid cigarettes for at least 72 hours, while chewing tobacco users will need to wait at least a week before resuming use.

Oral Care

For the first 24 hours following the procedure, patients will be told to not rinse, spit or brush their teeth. This is a crucial time where a blood clot needs to form in the extraction site and these things can delay that from happening. Beyond the first 24 hours, patients will need to be careful when brushing around the extraction site and only use a soft-bristled toothbrush with gentle strokes in the area. Patients will also find rinsing their mouth with warm salt water every couple of hours and after meals for a week is helpful for their recovery.

When to Contact The Dentist

Patients who experience the following complications following their wisdom tooth extraction must contact their dentist right away for an assessment and treatment.

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing.
  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Fever.
  • Severe pain that isn’t relieved by pain medications.
  • Swelling that gets worse after two to three days.
  • A bad taste that isn’t fixed by a salt water rinse.
  • Pus discharge from the socket.
  • Persistent numbness.
  • Blood or pus in nasal discharge.
These complications are a sign of more serious issues that need to be addressed before they become a a greater problem that can have serious risks to a patient’s overall health. Time is of the essence so it is imperative that they don’t delay in contacting their dentist for treatment.
Yazdani Family Dentistry Logo on glass at the Kanata clinic