Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom Teeth Removal: What Should I Expect?

Dr. Mark Reichman  is the division head of oral and maxillofacial surgery at both BC Children’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital in addition to managing the Oral and Facial Surgery Centre. He has treated both adults and children in a variety of cases. One of these conditions is those patients requiring wisdom teeth removal.

Many people don’t know what to expect from this type of procedure. It’s definitely not as scary as some people say it is! Let’s take a look at some of the basics.

Wisdom teeth usually arrive somewhere between the ages of 17 and 25, although there have been cases for those younger and older. You may feel pain when they grow in. Your dentist can X-ray your teeth and advise you if their growth might contribute to health concerns.

Wisdom teeth are removed for a few reasons, some being:

  • Your mouth doesn’t have room for more teeth: Sometimes your mouth just isn’t big enough for more molars.
  • They’re growing at a risky angle: If the wisdom teeth are protruding into your teeth, this can cause pain and damage.
  • Pre-existing cavities or gum disease: If you can’t reach these molars with a brush or floss, you’re at risk for serious oral health problems down the road.
  • They’re impacted: This is a big issue for wisdom teeth. Impacted means they grow in abnormally and have gotten caught in your jawbone or gums.

So what will surgery be like?

Surgery takes place in order to remove the teeth and protect your mouth against future health problems. The removal of the teeth takes under an hour, and most people take anesthesia in order not to feel pain.

There are generally three anesthesia options:

  • Local: Your doctor numbs your mouth with a shot of Novocaine.You may be given nitrous oxide to relax or “laugh” during surgery.
  • General: Your doctor will either administer a shot or give you a breathing mask until you’re completely asleep. You don’t feel a thing and you’ll be fully alert in a couple of hours.
  • IV Sedation: Your mouth will be numb and you’ll be kept on drugs through IV sedation, sleeping through most the procedure.

So your wisdom teeth are out. Now what?

It’s time to rest and recover. Typical wisdom teeth recovery time takes three to four days. However, recovery can be as long as one week. The length of recovery depends on how badly the wisdom teeth were impacted and the manner in which they were erupting. You’ll need a plan to stay home from work or school for a couple of days. If you feel pain, use an ice pack on your cheeks.  Eat soft foods like yogurt that don’t require aggressive crunching. Rinse your mouth with salt water to rinse away any bacteria that could infect the removal sites.

That’s just about it for wisdom teeth. If you’re between the ages of 16-25, I highly recommend coming in to check on your molars!


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