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Wisdom Teeth Removal: What Adults Should Expect

Your dentist says it’s time to remove your wisdom teeth. He may refer you to an oral surgeon, who will do the procedure in his office. It should only take a few days for you to heal and feel back to normal.

Why Take Them Out?

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars in the back of your mouth. They usually come in between the ages of 17 and 25, and they're spotted on X-rays. Most people have them removed for one of these reasons:

  • They’re impacted. Because they're so far back in your mouth, wisdom teeth may not come in normally. They can be trapped in your jawbone or gums, which can be painful.
  • They come in at the wrong angle. They may press against your other teeth.
  • Your mouth isn’t big enough. Your jaw has no room for an extra set of molars.

Before Surgery

You’ll meet with the oral surgeon to talk about the process. At this appointment, make sure you:

  • Talk about any health problems you have.
  • List any drugs you take on a regular basis.
  • Ask any questions you have about the surgery.
  • Discuss what type of anesthesia you’ll have. You can either be numb or asleep during your surgery.
  • Plan time off from work or school to have your surgery and rest afterward at home. Set up child care, pet care, or a ride home if needed.

During Surgery

Your surgery should take 45 minutes or less.

You’ll get one of these types of anesthesia so you don’t feel pain during the removal:

  • Local: Your doctor will numb your mouth with a shot of Novocaine in your gums.You may also breathe nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, to relax or even doze during surgery. You should feel alert again shortly afterward.
  • IV sedation: The surgeon will numb your mouth and also give you drugs through a vein in your arm to make you drowsy. You might sleep during the whole procedure.
  • General: You’ll either get drugs through a vein or breathe gas in through a mask. You’ll be asleep the whole time and might not wake up for an hour or so after the surgery.

Your doctor may have to cut your gums or bone to get the teeth out. If so, he'll stitch the wounds shut so they heal quickly. These stitches usually dissolve after a few days. He may also stuff gauze pads in your mouth to soak up some of the blood.

After Surgery

Everyone responds differently to anesthesia. If you had a local anesthetic and feel alert, you might be able to drive home to begin your recovery. You might even be able to go back to work or do your normal activities. If you had general anesthesia or still feel drowsy, you’ll need someone to drive you home.

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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