Having your wisdom teeth extracted is never a pleasant experience. The groggy recovery following sedation to the discomfort in the proceeding days, it is inevitable that it will have an impact on day-to-day life.
However, it does not have to be completely life altering. There are a number of ways patients can prepare for the procedure and care for their teeth – both before and after the extraction – to help fend off any major pain.
Here, we take you from the pain via sedation – and onwards to a happy recovery.
In the UK, more than 75,000 people have their wisdom teeth removed each year. Pushing through the gums between the ages of 18 and 24, wisdom teeth can often become ‘impacted’ – meaning they are unable to come through normally. This can cause a plethora of problems and often means the patient would be better without these pesky teeth than with them at all.
Indeed, painful wisdom teeth are extremely common – and a student has recently found a way to combat this. Jeevan Boyal invented the EZ Teether, (https://www.ezteether.com/) a device based on angles of the jaw and mouth. Containing no painkillers, the aid has a rubber-like surface, which relieves pain when the patient bites down on it – working in a similar fashion as a child’s teething device.
But how do you know when to take action? If any of your wisdom teeth are causing you consistent, severe discomfort, it is best to give your dentist a call. An X-ray will usually be carried out to see how the tooth is growing. If it is impacted and causing continuous problems, an extraction will be on the cards. This helps to avoid any tricky complications, such as tooth decay, gum disease and the development of abscesses.
The procedure can last up to half an hour, depending on the positioning and development of the wisdom tooth.
A local anaesthetic will always be given to numb the area around the tooth – or teeth – to keep any pain at bay.
For those teeth that are particularly tricky – or if the patient is especially nervous – a sedative can be opted for.
Conscious sedation will make the patient feel drowsy and very calm and, more often than not, they may be unable to recall the procedure. If this medication is administered, it is essential that the patient does not drive to or from the dentist, or for the next 24 hours, and has a responsible adult accompany them.
The effects of the sedative can take a few hours to fully subside. Having a proper understanding of what is involved and how you are likely to feel after the procedure is imperative and will make recovery more comfortable.
Unfortunately, you are in for at least a tough few days following the extraction – this is inevitable. But recovery can be made much easier if you are armed with the right knowledge and right tools – so we have put together some top tips.
Immediately after the procedure, rest is important – as is avoiding chewy foods. Rinsing should also be avoided for the next 24 hours as this can disrupt the formation of the blood clot in the gum, which is essential for it to heal. Avoiding cigarettes and alcohol will also aid recovery.
Over the next few days, ibuprofen will become your best friend and will help keep the pain down to a minimum. You may be pleased to know that this is a fantastic opportunity to laze about without feeling guilty.
Strenuous exercise should be avoided and instead replaced with plenty of rest – a great way to get through that Netflix series you have been meaning to start. When it comes to sleeping, propping up your head with a couple of extra pillows will help to reduce bleeding and discomfort. Bonjela teething gel is also a lifesaver, particularly if an ulcer has formed.
Time off work – and having a helper at hand – is necessary during these first few days of recovery. It’s also vital to stock up your cupboards and your fridge with soft foods such as mashed potato, soup, ice cream and yoghurt. Any foods that require chewing will be a challenge and can bring on more pain, so avoid these where possible.
Within a week, any pain or throbbing should have subsided. If this is not the case, it is advisable to take another trip to the dentist for a check-up. It is possible that a dry socket has formed – which is where the healing process has been interrupted – and it is important that this is attended to promptly. Nerve damage is also a possibility but unlikely.