What are the steps involved in wisdom teeth removal surgery?
Wisdom teeth procedure is a simple surgery performed either by an experienced dentist or an oral surgeon. Most dentists generally prefer to remove all of your wisdom teeth at once. If you remove them all at once then you will only have to go through surgery once. Of course it’s your choice and you can always choose to have the teeth removed one or two at a time over several appointments. This is a matter of preference so discuss with your dentist to decide what works best for you.
Wisdom teeth procedure consultation appointment
The first step before any wisdom teeth procedure is to obtain a consultation with your dentist or oral surgeon. Keep in mind that if you are in severe pain then chances are your dentist will strictly focus on removing the tooth which is causing you pain. However, if you’re planning things in advance then they should be able to discuss whether or not you need your additional wisdom teeth removed as well. This way you can prevent experiencing pain episodes which are associated your wisdom teeth. Your dentist or oral surgeon will take a panoramic X-rays to capture the image of your whole skill to help them decide whether you need to remove all of your wisdom teeth or not.
If you plan to be placed under sedation then this is the time to discuss it with your dentist or oral surgeon. Your dentist or oral surgeon can instruct you on which route makes more sense for your particular case. Keep in mind that not all dentists offer every single sedation option so you might have to be referred out to an appropriate specialist if needed. If you have any other questions or concerns regarding wisdom teeth procedure then you should ask the during your consultation appointment.
Sedation for wisdom teeth procedure
You have the option of having your wisdom teeth procedure performed while you are awake or asleep. For simpler wisdom removal cases being awake works just fine. However, sedation works better when there are certain conditions:
- Difficult teeth
- Anxious patient
- Multiple teeth involved in surgery (4 or more)
If you have any concerns regarding being awake during wisdom surgery then consider getting sedated prior to your surgery. There are different levels of sedation which are used for wisdom teeth surgery:
- Mild sedation is where you are relaxed but still awake. This can be achieved either by taking anti-anxiety medications beforehand or inhaling nitrous oxide gas during surgery.
- Deep sedation will completely knock you out and you won’t remember anything about the surgery. Deep sedation can be achieved via either IV sedation or general anesthesia. These type of sedation options are offered through a dentist or oral surgeon who carries a valid conscious sedation permit or general anesthesia permit.
So one more time, here is a summary of various options you have when it comes to sedation and wisdom teeth procedure:
- Deep sedation with general anesthesia
- Deep sedation with IV sedation
- Anti-anxiety medications such as Valium
- Nitrous oxide gas
- Nothing, aside from of course your regular Novocaine shots!
Obtaining informed consent
Your dentist or oral surgeon will require an informed consent prior to starting the surgery. Informed consent is a long list of risks and complications which can occur during or after your surgery. Read this form very carefully and make sure that you understand everything before you sign.
Administering sedation and anesthesia
If you elected to undergo some sort of sedation, then your dentist or oral surgeon will begin administering the sedative technique prior to numbing your teeth. Once you start to feel the sedative effects, whatever they may be, then you are ready to get started.
Your dentist proceeds to numb the region where your wisdom teeth are located. Each wisdom tooth typically requires about 2 to 3 shots to get numb. So you need to receive around a dozen shots or so in order to remove all four of your wisdom teeth.
If you’re awake during surgery then expect to feel weird around this time. Breathing can become quite labored, swallowing becomes challenging and you may even feel as if your face has disappeared! Don’t panic, as these are all normal effects of anesthesia kicking in. Instead focus on your breathing and take deep, powerful breaths through your nose. If you need, count your breaths in your head as this seem to help calm people down a bit. Feel free to talk to your dentist to see what suggestions they have if you run into any other problems or difficulties at this stage.
Removing your wisdom teeth
To gain access to wisdom teeth which are trapped, your dentist first needs to remove any gum tissue or bone covering the tooth. So you may hear a little drilling and cutting noises. Don’t worry, it you’re numb you shouldn’t feel anything.
Once your dentist has gained access to the tooth, he or she will gradually loosen and remove the wisdom tooth from your jaw. If you are awake and sufficiently numb, you will feel lots of pressure but shouldn’t feel any actual pain. If you do feel any pain, then you are not fully numb. You will require either more shots or more time for the numbness to take effect. Let your dentist know right away so they can address this issue.
Removing each wisdom tooth takes anywhere from 5 minutes all the way up to well over an hour. If you’re awake, don’t try to rush your dentist and be patient. Occasionally your dentist may not be able to remove a very challenging wisdom tooth. Should this happen, you must be referred out to an appropriate specialist to complete the procedure. Lets hope this doesn’t happen, but if it does occur then your best bet is to go directly to the specialist while you are still numb.
Wrapping up you wisdom teeth procedure
Once your wisdom teeth are removed, it usually requires a few sutures to close your extraction sites. While suturing is not mandatory in all cases, suturing does usually help you heal much faster. Easier extractions tend to do just fine without placing a suture. On the other hand difficult wisdom teeth removals almost always require several sutures in order to achieve proper closure of the removal socket (hole).
Keep in mind that there are two types sutures. Once is a dissolvable suture which goes away on its own within a few days. The other is permanent suture which needs to be removed by your dentist or oral surgeon on a subsequent visit. Most of the times dentists and oral surgeons prefer using permanent sutures due to their better stability.
In addition to suturing, there might be a need for other material to close up the surgery site. For instance, if there is excessive bleeding then your dentist needs to pack the hole with coagulating material to stop the bleeding. Other times there is extensive bone damage to your jaws and your dentist must place bone graft into the hole in order to allow for better healing. This is all up to your dentist or oral surgeon and they will let you know should such a need arise.
Finally, patient dismissal
You are just about done now so hang in there… Occasionally your dentist may keep you around for a while after surgery to allow for your sedation to wear off or to monitor your bleeding levels. You will also be given post-operative instructions, gauze packs to bite on and antibiotics and pain-killers to help with your recovery. Make sure to follow these instructions very carefully if you want to experience a speedy and pleasant recovery.