Wisdom Tooth Removal FAQ's

Wisdom Teeth Extraction FAQ’s – Answered by Dr. Alfano

Do you have questions about an upcoming wisdom tooth extraction procedure? We sat down with Dr. Alfano to discuss some of the more common questions that his patients ask about their wisdom teeth extractions.

If you have any further questions or think you might have wisdom tooth complications, you can call us today at 717.551.1511 or contact us to schedule a consultation!

What are wisdom teeth? 

Wisdom teeth are the third molars in your mouth. They usually erupt around the age of 18-25 and are the farthest back teeth you have in your jaw.

Does everyone have wisdom teeth? 

95% of people will develop wisdom teeth at some point between their late teens and early adult years. It is common that some people won’t develop all four wisdom teeth and end up with only one or two. 

Though it is rare, there is also a small percentage of the population that won’t ever develop wisdom teeth. It’s estimated that between 5 to 37% of people are missing one or more of their wisdom teeth.

Symptoms of wisdom teeth? 

Some symptoms of wisdom teeth that can occur are: 

  • Tooth Pain
  • Jaw Pain
  • Swelling, redness and Inflammation around the gums
  • Difficulty in keeping the area behind the second molars clean
  • Occasional swelling and bleeding
  • Impacted teeth
  • Frequent oral infections around the site of wisdom teeth

Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed? 

Wisdom teeth do not always need to be removed. Most of the time however, either the upper or lower jaw does not have enough space to fit your wisdom teeth. This can cause infection issues and problems keeping the area clean so it is highly recommended to remove them when symptoms are present. 

The wisdom tooth extraction procedure is very common and standard practice with an oral surgeon, so when wisdom teeth are causing problems your dentist will probably refer you to a local oral surgeon to have them extracted and prevent further problems and discomfort.

What is an impacted wisdom tooth? 

An impacted wisdom is the third molar at the very back of your mouth that doesn’t have enough room to emerge or develop in a normal manner. This will usually lead to complications if it’s not taken care of by an oral surgeon, leading to further discomfort or the possibility of more extensive dental procedures down the road. 

It’s best to take the advice of your dentist or oral surgeon when the suggest the extraction of one or more of your third molars to prevent other oral health issues.

What problems can occur when retaining wisdom teeth? 

Problems that can occur if someone retains their wisdom teeth are:

  • Infections
  • Irritation of the gum tissue in the back of the jaw
  • Difficulty with either bite or clenching
  • Overcrowding of teeth
  • Impacted wisdom teeth and deeper infection due to the wisdom tooth being stuck below the gum line.
  • Jaw Pain

Why are wisdom teeth more difficult to remove than other teeth?

Depending on a variety of factors, wisdom tooth extraction can be more difficult than other teeth, but for the most part, a wisdom tooth extraction is a fairly routine process performed by your oral surgeon. If the oral surgeon notices a situation that presents a more complicated extraction, they will discuss it with you beforehand, but it usually isn’t a major cause for concern.

How long does anesthesia last? 

Anesthesia usually lasts between 1-2 hours after you come home from the procedure. You may begin to feel less comfortable as the anesthesia wears off but your doctor will be able to provide you with instructions on how to reduce the pain and swelling while you’re recovering at home.

Will I be sedated during wisdom teeth eemoval? 

This is an optional choice, however we recommend sedation during wisdom teeth removal. This provides a better experience for you and it can help you to not remember the extraction procedure. This process provides an option for you to not feel any pain and have a limited memory during the procedure. In addition to optional anesthesia, your doctor will also apply a local anesthesia to numb your gums.

How is the sedation administered? 

Dr. Alfano along with a registered certified anesthetist will administer sedation through IV access. This is performed and administered under the control and supervision of a specially trained anesthetist who is a medical specialist who administers anesthetics.

What is the recovery period for wisdom teeth extractions? 

The main part of the recovery period is around a 3-5 day course. By days 5-7 day you should feel back to normal again. We like to tell our patients that they can expect up to 2 weeks to fully recover after having your wisdom teeth removed. During this two week period you should expect to have swollen cheeks & gums, and there may be discomfort that gradually lesses as your continue to recover and follow the care advice of your doctor.

What can I take at home to alleviate pain post-extraction? 

We recommend a non-narcotic course of pain: 

  • motrin 600 mg 
  • tylenol 3 hours later 
  • motrin again later

 This pain alleviation method avoids nausea during wisdom tooth recovery. 

Will I have stitches where the wisdom teeth are removed?

After wisdom tooth extraction, there will likely be a couple stitches where the tooth was removed. Your dentist will provide you instructions on how to care for the incision sites and stitches, however the stitches themselves will usually dissolve on their own within 1-2 days. 

What are dry sockets? 

Dry sockets are exposed bone in the extraction site which can be painful. They are usually seen around the 3-5 day post-operate. To prevent this we try to keep the blot clot in the extraction socket as long as possible. This means no: straws, spitting, smoking

Some symptoms of dry sockets include: 

  • Severe pain that may radiate to your ears, temple, neck or eyes
  • Seeing an empty socket at the site of extraction
  • Visible bone appearing from the incision area
  • Foul smelling breath or unpleasant taste in the mouth

Can I brush my teeth after getting wisdom teeth removed? 

You want to brush your teeth routinely as soon as the next day after the surgery. You may begin to brush your teeth the night of the surgery but it is recommended that you rinse gently with the prescribed oral rinse or a mild saltwater rinse. 

What do you recommend eating after wisdom teeth removal? 

We recommend food such as :

  1. Applesauce
  2. Jello
  3. Italian ice
  4. Blended soups & Broths
  5. Mashed Potatoes
  6. Scrambled Eggs
  7. Mashed Bananas
  8. Other soft fruits
  9. Avocado
  10. Smoothies (DO NOT USE STRAWS)
  11. Oatmeal
  • Avoid dairy products, alcohol, crunch and crumbly foods and spicy foods for the first couple of days. Avoid sharp foods that could get stuck in the extraction site. 

When can I resume physical activity? 

We recommend waiting 5 days after wisdom teeth removal to resume physical activity. Physical activity can elevate heart rate and blood pressure which could cause swelling of the extraction site.  

What type of follow up should I expect? 

All patients are seen at a 2 week follow up period. During this follow-up appointment, we will ensure your incision sites are properly healed and that your recovering well. Afterward, you can return to their routine dental care. 

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