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What is it like to have your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

As we approach the summer season we move into the time where people can finally get reprieve from the brutal Texas “winter”.  Kids get to run free and families get to take vacation.  With kids, teens and college student’s out of school and everyone’s schedules suddenly lightened, people often take advantage of that time to schedule surgery.   As a result, for oral & maxillofacial surgeons the summertime is wisdom tooth season.  I wanted to spend a little time explaining the process and describe what can be expected in a typical case, at least in our practice.

Usually, we will see you for a quick initial consultation.  This visit is to review the health history, evaluate the patient and radiographs and then to discuss the surgery.  Any of the questions you have can be addressed at this visit.  Since at this visit, no surgery is performed, the appointment is usually relaxed and hopefully calming.  We will review all of you preoperative instructions and go over any instructions regarding medications as well.   Most wisdom tooth surgeries are performed under IV sedation, but can be done under nitrous oxide or with local anesthesia alone in select cases.

On the day of surgery, we ask you to abstain from eating or drinking anything for 8 hours prior to the surgery, unless otherwise instructed.  Any appropriate medications can usually be taken with a sip of clear water.   You will need to arrive at a little before surgery to take care of any paperwork.   At this point, many people are nervous as the surgery is approaching, but our staff are wonderful and they are quite skilled at being informative, assuring and calming.  We understand that while we do this surgery nearly everyday, for the patient this is often their 1st surgery.  The surgery is typically very quick, lasting less than 30 minutes.   Since most patients are sedated, this will seem like 5 seconds has passed, and often we will have to reassure you that we have started.  When you wake up, you should not be in any pain.  After an appropriate time, we will move you to a recovery area where your escort may sit with you.  It is here that we will review all of the postoperative instructions, or the “do’s and don’ts”.    Once you have become more awake and cognizant we will answer any last minute questions and once you’re ready will escort you to your vehicle for you to go home.  This is typically around 90 minutes from the time you arrived at our office.

On the day of surgery, we will ask you to be on a very soft diet.  Your mouth will be numb for several hours and a liquid or “mushy” diet will be better tolerated.  Your escort will have instructed on how and when to take any medications we may have prescribed.  We will usually have you ice your face for 24-48 hours to minimize any swelling.  Swelling can increase for up to 72 hours, but at some point in the first 3 days, your swelling will peak and you will begin to see daily improvement.  Diet after day one is usually described as a soft, comfortable diet, and can be increased in consistency as tolerated.  We will see you for a follow up examination usually between the 5th and 7th day post op.  At that time you should be well on your way to returning to normal and we will review additional oral hygiene instructions.  Most patients require only 1 follow up visit but we are available anytime should additional visits or advice be needed.