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Preparing for Wisdom Tooth Removal

graphic showing wisdom tooth effects

Although wisdom tooth removal can seem intimidating or stressful at first, preparing for extraction in advance makes the process much easier. denTEL strives to provide you with accurate and practical information about dental treatments so you know exactly what to expect at the clinic. Here is what you need to know about when you may need your wisdom teeth removed along with 5 expert tips to help you prepare for a wisdom tooth extraction.

When Do You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom tooth extraction is a fairly common surgical procedure used to remove one or more molars at the back of your mouth. Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that typically appear between ages 17 and 25. Removal or extraction becomes necessary if the teeth don’t have enough space to grow naturally. Overcrowding or impaction of your wisdom teeth can lead to pain, infection, and other dental problems in the long run.

A wisdom tooth extraction can be performed by a dentist or a specialized oral surgeon.

Tips to Help You Prepare for Wisdom Tooth Removal

While it may seem like a scary procedure, wisdom tooth removal is a routine procedure — but knowing what to expect can help make the experience less intimidating.

1. Understand food and beverage restrictions

In general, you should avoid eating or smoking for 12 hours before the surgery. This will prevent nausea or vomiting during and after the procedure. There is also a significant risk of airway obstruction if you undergo wisdom tooth extraction on a full stomach. It is much safer to not take any chances, no matter whether you’re on sedation or local anesthesia.

Also, make sure that you have access to plenty of soft foods for the recovery period after the surgery. Stock up on yogurt, applesauce, pudding, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and other cool, semi-solid foods that won’t irritate the wound(s) in your mouth.

2. Arrange for transport

Anesthesia can impair your concentration and reflexes, which makes driving after surgery extremely dangerous. As the effect of anesthesia stays for some time after the procedure, you will not be able to drive home by yourself. Ask a friend or family member to drive you home after the tooth extraction is completed. You should also consider taking time off from work or school, arranging for childcare, and asking someone to stay with you overnight.

3. Get the right medication

It is important to share your comprehensive medical history with the surgeon to avoid any possible drug interactions. If you have existing prescriptions for blood thinners or analgesics, the standard medication plan may need to be modified. Consult with your dentist and buy sufficient over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, Calpol, and others) to manage the pain post-surgery. Stronger analgesics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be necessary if a part of the bone has been removed.

4. Make a list of questions for your dentist

The easiest way to get comfortable with dental treatment is to ask any and all questions you might have about the procedure. Most dental care providers will be happy to clarify your doubts and ease your apprehensions about the wisdom tooth removal process.

Some commonly asked questions include:  

  • When do I need to arrive at the dental clinic or hospital?
  • How long will the procedure take? 
  • How many wisdom teeth will be removed? 
  • What type of anesthesia will the surgeon be using? 
  • Should I avoid any nonprescription drugs before the surgery?
  • Are there any post-surgery maintenance tips I need to follow?

5. Prepare your home for recovery

You will need a couple of days of rest to fully heal from the surgery. Create a safe, comfortable space and have plenty of entertainment options available for your time at home. Keep your head in an elevated position for the first three days after the surgery to maintain low blood volume near the wound(s). Some swelling after the procedure is normal and should subside within a few hours.

Reach out to your dentist immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Severe, consistent pain
  • Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Swelling that worsens after two or three days

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