Last Updated on April 3, 2023 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS
What are wisdom teeth and how long is wisdom teeth removal?
The wisdom teeth third molars come out after all permanent dentition; at the ages of 16 and 26. Compared to other teeth, wisdom teeth can erupt totally or partially, although in many cases, they may be retained, causing inflammation and significant pain. However, they may never cause discomfort.
Why are wisdom teeth extracted?
Wisdom teeth are generally extracted due to pain and infection, and after consideration by an orthodontist if it is necessary for the patient to undergo re-alignment treatment. In most cases, patients mainly consult their dentist for pain or inflammation relief. The decision to extract the teeth will depend upon the recommendation of the treating dentist, although the person performing the procedure is an oral surgeon.
The most common symptoms of wisdom teeth are:
- Red or inflamed gums
- Pain in the eruption area
- Pain and difficulty opening the mouth
- Bad taste in the mouth
The oral surgeon assesses the patient, and with the support of x-rays, decides what type of procedure to perform.
How wisdom teeth are extracted
Before the procedure, no preparation is required since it is minor ambulatory surgery.
- The surgeon first cleans the area where the tooth is to be extracted. He then applies local anesthesia, general anesthesia, or light sedation depending upon the health condition of the patient.
- General anesthesia requires intravenous medication, often in the form of a gas administered through a mask. The person will not wake up during the surgery and the effect may last up to one hour after the procedure. This technique is not highly recommended since it requires specialized personnel in a hospital setting.
- Light sedation entails the administration of medications that allow the person to completely relax, a choice recommended for people who are afraid or stressed.
- The most widely used technique is local anesthesia applied to the peripheral area, that is, around the tooth to be extracted.
- Once the area or patient is anesthetized, a small incision is made in the gum to expose the tooth fully. Then it is extracted with specialized instruments to avoid damage to the tissue and neighboring teeth.
- At the end of the extraction, the surgeon reviews the place where the tooth was housed to verify that it is completely clean. Some bleeding is possible; it will form a clot to help the gum heal. The wound can be cleaned and closed with stitches, only after the clot has formed.
It is normal after the extraction procedure to feel discomfort or even pain, for which the dentist will prescribe analgesics and antibiotics to prevent any infection.
The time of the surgery is relative, approximately between 20 to 40 minutes, depending upon how many teeth are extracted. Most people prefer to perform several extractions in a single procedure to avoid the stress of another surgery.
Recovery after the extraction of wisdom teeth
After surgery, the patient returns home. Apart from the medications recommended by the oral surgeon, rest and a soft diet provide post-surgical care(5)
- The first step to promote healing is to keep the tissues at rest. Do not disturb the intervention site with your finger. Avoid excessive chewing, spitting, or rinsing.
- Physical activity should be limited. Instead, rest for the first 48 hours after the operation.
- When lying down, keep the head elevated with a pillow.
- Eventually, slight bleeding could occur, which is easily controlled by exerting pressure with a sterile gauze on the site for 45 minutes. If the bleeding persists or is excessive, consult your dentist as soon as possible.
- You may feel some discomfort or pain. In this case, follow the instructions given for any prescribed pain relievers and antibiotics.
- It is normal for there to be inflammation in the operated area. To minimize it, apply ice packs for 20 minutes every hour on the day of the operation only.
- Bruises (ecchymosis) may appear after the first few days; this will diminish with warm compresses.
- Maintain a liquid and soft diet on the day of surgery. You can drink whatever liquids you want, but preferably cold. The next day, you can continue with your normal diet.
- Do not smoke for at least 48 hours after surgery.
- Maintain your normal oral hygiene; just be careful when performing it.
- Do not worry about the sutures; they will be removed 8 days after the intervention.
- If any medication causes any discomfort, please inform the specialist or dentist.
The extraction of wisdom teeth is a minor, outpatient procedure. If the professional’s recommendations are followed to the letter, the recovery time will be short – between 1 or two days – after absolute rest. It takes a week for total recovery.
If you have any questions about this or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Islands Family Dental as well as our page on Facebook. We look forward to your visit and we will make a timely diagnosis. Our dentists in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, Newbury Park, and Port Hueneme will be able to guide you toward the best treatment to take care of your health and give you back your best smile.
- Ghaeminia, H., Nienhuijs, ME, Toedtling, V., Perry, J., Tummers, M., Hoppenreijs, TJ, Van der Sanden, WJ, & Mettes, TG (2020). Surgical removal versus retention for the management of asymptomatic disease-free impacted wisdom teeth. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 5(5), CD003879. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003879
- Alfadil, L., & Almajed, E. (2020). Prevalence of impacted third molars and the reason for extraction in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi dental journal, 32(5), 262–268. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sdentj.2020.01.002. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32647474/
- Kautto, A., Vehkalahti, MM, & Ventä, I. (2018). Age of patient at the extraction of the third molar. International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 47(7), 947-951. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijom.2018.03.020 https://researchportal.helsinki.fi/en/publications/age-of-patient-at-the-extraction-of-the-third-molar
- Richards, D. (2020, March 16). Third molars: Factors associated with surgical difficulty. National Elf Service. https://www.nationalelfservice.net/dentistry/oral-and-maxillofacial-surgery/third-molars-factors-associated-surgical-difficulty/
- Sukegawa S, Yokota K, Kanno T, Manabe Y, Sukegawa-Takahashi Y , Masui M, Furuki Y (2019 Jan 1). What are the risk factors for postoperative infections of third molar extraction surgery: A retrospective clinical study? (electronic version), Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal (24(1):e123-9). http://www.medicinaoral.com/medoralfree01/v24i1/medoralv24i1p123.pdf
- Duarte-Rodrigues, L., Miranda, EFP, Souza, TO et al (2018). Third molar removal and its impact on quality of life: systematic review and meta-analysis. Qual Life Res 27, 2477–2489 1.https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11136-018-1889-1
- Hernandez A., et. to (2021). Conscious sedation for surgical procedures. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007409.htm