Wisdom teeth extraction: understanding the different steps
Wisdom teeth removal is becoming increasingly common and is recommended in the teenage years. It is an operation that tends to arouse fear and apprehension.
However, technology is such that the risks of wisdom tooth surgery are almost zero and there is a wealth of information available to minimise post-operative pain and discomfort. However, it is important to know where to find it and to be sure that it is true.
This article aims to answer all your questions about this operation and to give you the keys to heal correctly and quickly.
FAQ – Wisdom teeth
This is indeed the first thing to know before talking about surgery. Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to grow in, usually between the ages of 17 and 25. They are the last molars. However, sometimes they grow in well after 25 years of age, and there is no need to worry if this is the case.
To understand where the term “wisdom tooth” comes from, we have to go back to antiquity. According to the Greek philosopher Cleanthe, the term is linked to the time when these teeth appear, which corresponds to the time when man’s thinking matures, hence the term “wisdom”.
This operation has become very common and necessary because the human jaw has become smaller as the human race has evolved. As a result, we have less space available for these wisdom teeth to grow in properly. This increases the risk of pain and complications.
Lack of space is the main reason for tooth extraction, but there are other factors. The wisdom teeth may have to be extracted because they are in the wrong position and will therefore potentially damage, or are already damaging, the rest of your teeth. This can cause misalignment of the rest of your teeth. Finally, the last common reason is that these wisdom teeth lead to cavities or problems with bacteria because they are poorly maintained or difficult to maintain.
In view of the risks and complications associated with the appearance of wisdom teeth in jaws that are often too small, the aim is to prevent the situations mentioned above. Wisdom teeth are therefore often extracted during or at the end of adolescence, as long as the roots of these teeth are not fully formed.
More generally, an ideal time for this operation can be said to be the day when it is seen that the wisdom teeth will not have adequate space to erupt fully. This ideal time is between 18 and 20 years of age because the roots of the wisdom teeth are still short and partially formed, which facilitates the operation and healing.
However, if wisdom teeth are a problem from an older age, the operation is still possible and recommended, although it is more complex after the age of 30 as the wisdom teeth are fully rooted in the mouth.
Due to the natural evolution of the size of the human jaw, wisdom teeth may never appear. It is also possible that some people, lucky for the percentage of the population, have enough space for these teeth to grow in properly. These are the two cases where wisdom teeth removal can be avoided.
In general, to determine whether wisdom teeth extraction is necessary, the dentist will assess the space available and the potential risks with an X-ray.
There are two choices. Extraction under local anaesthetic or general anaesthetic. If you want or need to have all four wisdom teeth removed at once, general anaesthesia is recommended.
Are you wondering how a tooth extraction is performed? It starts with the incision of the gum to access the tooth and the jawbone. Then the bone around the tooth is cut away so that it can be extracted. Finally, when the tooth is completely extracted, the space is closed with sutures that are usually absorbable, which means that they will disappear on their own about 2 to 3 weeks after the operation. If they are not absorbable, they will be removed at a later visit.
A wisdom teeth removal operation usually takes less than 45 minutes. If the operation is performed under general anaesthesia, it takes about 30 minutes.
The common effects of wisdom tooth surgery are swelling of the mouth and bruising around the jaw. The swelling is not systematic and usually starts to disappear 3 days after the wisdom teeth operation. The patient may have difficulty opening the mouth and may experience muscle pain in the jaw. There may also be some blood in your saliva during the first week after the operation.
The most common complication is dry socket. This complication occurs when the bone is no longer covered by the blood clot in the alveolus. The alveolus is the hole left by the tooth. This makes the bone very sensitive. If this happens to you, consult your dentist quickly via our dental emergency service.
Your dentist will treat it without any problems with a medicine called Alvogyl, which will give you relief. Alveolitis does not affect the quality of the healing process, it will simply take a few days longer.
Another possible complication is osteitis. This is an infection in the bone. Again, this is easily treated with specific medication. There are other possible complications, as there are after any operation, but they are mostly not specific to wisdom teeth surgery.
It all starts directly after wisdom tooth surgery. To minimise potential pain, avoid talking for the first few minutes and hours after the operation. If you have been prescribed medication, take it as soon as possible. You can also put ice or cold around your jaw. This will help reduce swelling but should not be repeated after 24 hours after the operation.
For the next few days, rest as much as possible, avoid rinsing your mouth and do not force your jaw.
Are you wondering what you will be allowed to eat after your wisdom teeth operation? When will you be able to eat normally again after your teeth have been removed? We explain it all to you. To begin with, for the first 24 hours after the operation, you should eat a liquid diet: blended vegetables, soups, yoghurts, liquid or soft cheeses, compotes and cold drinks.
For the rest of the first week, choose a diet that requires very little chewing so as not to strain your jaw and avoid the pain that this could cause. Again, we recommend blended or pureed vegetables, well-cooked pasta, omelettes, soup and boiled meat. You can adapt this to the progress of your healing by following the spirit of the recommendations.
During the second week, the diet can gradually return to normal, but try to cut meat or fruit into pieces and not to eat food that is too hard.
You can also find our dietary advice to protect your teeth on a daily basis.
Our practical advice following wisdom tooth removal
- Start by cutting out very hard or spicy foods for the first two weeks after wisdom tooth surgery.
- Avoid suctioning to keep the blood clot in the socket. This is why smoking, drinking through a straw and spitting are not recommended.
- Avoid consuming hot food or drinks.
- You should also avoid physical activity for 48 hours after the operation to promote healing.
- Finally, you can resume brushing your teeth gently the day after surgery.
If you are too apprehensive about the surgery or dentists in general, even after reading this article, ask about our medical hypnosis services. To make an appointment or for more information, please contact usBook an appointment