Millions of people get their wisdom teeth removed every year. In fact, wisdom teeth removal is so common, extractions have almost become a sort of rite of passage for people in their late teens and early 20s. Brandon Kang, DDS, and Matt Chroust, DDS, MD, at Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center, in the San Francisco, California, area, use state-of-the-art extraction techniques to help patients recover faster and with less discomfort. But it’s still a good idea to prepare yourself ahead of time, so that when the day of your extractions finally rolls around, you’re feeling ready and confident. Here’s how you can get ready.
Ask lots of questions
Wisdom tooth extractions may be common, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have your own questions and concerns. Your consultation visit is the ideal time to get the answers you’re looking for. These are just a few questions you might want to ask:
- What kind of sedation or anesthesia will I have?
- Do I need to fast before my visit and, if so, for how long? Is water OK?
- Do I need to stop taking prescription or over-the-counter medication before my appointment? What about vitamins?
- How do I care for the extraction sites, and how soon can I brush my teeth?
Use a notepad or notes app on your phone to jot down questions ahead of time so you won’t forget anything. And be sure to read the informational materials your dentist gives you in case there’s anything you don’t quite understand. Having information at your fingertips can help you feel a lot more relaxed and confident about the extractions and your recovery afterward.
Smoking interferes with recovery, which means it can take a lot longer for your mouth to heal. Ideally, you should stop smoking a couple weeks before your extractions, and don’t smoke during the early recovery period, either. If you do smoke, be sure to let the doctor know during your consultation visit. You should also skip alcohol for about 12 hours before your extractions.
Stock the fridge (and pantry)
After wisdom teeth removal, you’re going to want to rest for the first day or two. Stocking up on essentials ahead of time means you can relax without worrying about what you’re going to eat and drink. The first couple of days following your extraction, you’ll need to stick to liquids and super-soft foods like soups, smoothies, and yogurt. Fill your cupboards with your favorite flavors to make recovery more enjoyable. Skip the straws, though, since suction can disrupt the protective clot that forms in the tooth socket. Scrambled eggs and soft oatmeal are good choices for your third day, when your gums might still be a bit sore.
Prepare to pamper
After your extractions, you’re going to have some swelling in your gums and cheek area. The day before your surgery, make some extra ice or, better still, buy a couple of ice packs. Applying ice to your jaw area can work wonders for reducing swelling and discomfort. You also won’t be able to brush your teeth for the first 24 hours — but you will be able to very gently rinse your mouth with salt water. Mix some up ahead of time and keep it by your sink. Remember to shake it up a bit before using it, and don’t swish or spit too hard, since that can dislodge the protective clot as well.
Most patients receive a limited prescription of pain relievers to use for the first couple of days after their extraction. It’s nice to have someone available to pick up your medication when it’s ready, or ask to have the prescription a day or two early so you can fill it yourself. Your discomfort will begin to subside after a day or two, and by that time ibuprofen should provide any relief you might need.
Schedule a little help — and some time off
You’ll definitely need someone to drive you home after your extractions, and if you haven’t filled your prescriptions ahead of time, you’ll need someone to run to the drugstore too. Having someone “on call” in case you need something is also good for peace of mind, although not strictly necessary. You should plan on being home from work for a couple of days, and if your teeth were impacted, you might need a little longer to recover. That’s because impactions are more complex and typically require larger incisions and more healing time.
As a top-rated oral and maxillofacial surgery practice serving patients in Oakland and the Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, California, Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center is committed to providing custom treatment plans and state-of-the-art care for every patient. If wisdom teeth extractions are in your future, our team is ready to help. To learn more about wisdom teeth extractions or to schedule a consultation, call the office most convenient to you.