Whether you or your teen needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, this rite-of-passage procedure is unlike anything most dental patients have ever experienced in their lifetime. For individuals that have always had healthy, cavity-free smiles, oral surgery could be the first time they’ve ever had any type of dental work. Like thousands of people before you, you’re in great hands…but you still want to know what to expect.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to planning for and recovering from your wisdom tooth extraction.
Get a Consultation Early On
The 3rd molars start developing early, even before adolescence kicks in. For the average person, wisdom teeth are usually fully formed by their mid-20s or no later than 30 years of age. Early screenings and diagnostic x-rays can monitor the positioning and development of these teeth, giving your dentist a good idea of whether or not they may one day need to be removed.
Don’t Put the Treatment Off
Should you already be aware of a particular problem with your wisdom tooth, it’s best to not delay your treatment. Like other types of dental problems, untreated issues tend to get worse rather than stay the same. A small cavity on a 3rd molar can grow larger, leading to pain and consequential infections that impact other teeth. The angle of the tooth alone might lead to crowding throughout the rest of your mouth (destroying all of that work your orthodontist did.) Earlier is usually better.
Have All of the Wisdom Teeth Removed at One Time
If you need to have one or two infected wisdom teeth removed, most dental experts recommend getting all four of them out at the same time. Even if the other ones don’t currently bother you, there’s no guarantee that they won’t follow in line with the ones before them. Scheduling one procedure is more efficient and more affordable than going back for a second surgery later on; you’ll only need to pay or file insurance claims for one sedation session, facility fee, surgical appointment, etc.
Bring a Friend
Having any type of oral surgery usually means that some form of sedative is going to be used — although not always. For wisdom tooth removal, it’s often possible to only use local anesthetic and laughing gas, but most people want something a bit “stronger” so they can tune out everything going on. If that’s the case, you’ll need a friend or family member to accompany you to and from the appointment, because you won’t be able to drive yourself home. Aside from relaxing throughout the procedure, sedation dentistry also makes it easier for your dentist or oral surgeon to work more efficiently.
Keeping a Wisdom Tooth? Oral Hygiene is Important
Some people decide to keep their wisdom teeth because they don’t seem to have any problems (like crowding, pain, or swelling, for instance.) However, these teeth can be especially challenging to keep clean, due to their location. As a result, they’re more prone to problems like gum disease and tooth decay. This may not seem like such a big deal (after all, you can always pull them – right?) but the adjacent teeth can be impacted with the spreading infection. As long as you hope to retain these teeth, floss them regularly and see your dentist for routine checkups.
Recovery After Your Oral Surgery
Follow all post-extraction home care instructions as advised. Try not to eat or drink anything that goes against doctor’s orders, otherwise your extraction site might not heal properly (causing a painful dry socket.) Not everyone needs pain medication; an over the counter drug like ibuprofen may be all that’s necessary.
Give yourself at least a week off of work or school before going back; some people need 10-14 days. Stick to a soft diet for the first several days and see your surgeon for a follow-up as recommended. About two weeks after the dental extraction you should be able to return to normal activities.
If you’re going to need to have your wisdom teeth out but don’t have insurance through your employer, there are still affordable ways to access the care that you need. One option is to enroll in a Cigna discount plan or Cigna dental savings plan through Cigna Dental Plans. Members receive 15-50% off of treatments like exams, dental extractions, and more. You can even see a specialist! Contact our savings experts today to find out how to join.