There aren’t many people who look forward to a wisdom tooth extraction. Most of us have it stuck in our head that it will be painful and the recovery will be long and inconvenient. Fortunately, the reality paints a different picture. In many cases, there is hardly any pain at all – at most mild discomfort – and the recovery time can be as little as two days. So, if you have your wisdom teeth removed on a Friday, you could be back at work or uni on Monday.
Let’s take a closer look at wisdom teeth and what you can expect after they’ve been removed.
Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?
Wisdom teeth are your back molars and the last set of teeth to come through. Because they erupt later than your other teeth, generally around your early twenties, they can cause issues. If there’s not enough room for them, they can press up against other teeth and push them out of alignment and even become traps for bacteria. If these issues aren’t addressed in a timely fashion, it may not only be your wisdom in need of removal.
The wisdom tooth removal procedure
First there’s the initial consult, which involves your dentist inspecting the problem tooth and taking x-rays. From this, we can usually determine how long the removal procedure will take and how long the recovery period will roughly be.
For instance, if the wisdom tooth has erupted and isn’t impacting on another tooth or come through at an angle, the extraction may only take a couple of minutes. The procedure can take longer, however, if the tooth has become infected, it’s sitting at an angle, it’s impacted or gum tissue needs to be cut away.
Once the tooth is removed, we usually like you to stay sitting in the chair for 5 to 10 minutes to make sure clotting has taken effect, the bleeding has stopped and you’re feeling okay.
90 minutes is the longest we would expect anyone to be in the chair for if we’re removing all four wisdom teeth, and that includes consent, numbing, the procedure and then the initial recovery time. Simple extractions would be quicker, as would the removal of fewer teeth.
Simpler wisdom tooth cases, which should only take a short time in the chair, often include the following:
- The wisdom tooth has erupted
- The wisdom tooth isn’t effecting other teeth
- The wisdom tooth has come through at a standard angle
The procedure can take longer if:
- Teeth have become infected
- The wisdom tooth is positioned at an angle
- The wisdom tooth is impacted
- Gum tissue needs to be cut away
How long does pain after wisdom tooth extraction last and how long is recovery?
The answer can be frustrating, but it depends. Let’s take a look at some factors and potential recovery times.
- The tooth has erupted, it’s not sitting at an angle and there is no impaction. The extraction for this scenario is very quick and there is often little to no pain afterwards. In fact, some patients don’t even require pain killers, and can be back at work the next day.
- A slightly more complex case, perhaps involving cutting into gum tissue, could lead to more swelling and mild discomfort. You’ll probably need a couple of days off work and mild painkillers.
- A crooked wisdom tooth will require a longer extraction and a longer healing time. There will probably be some mild discomfort in the following days but nothing that regular painkillers can’t handle. You may have to take several days off work, but if you can avoid meetings and too much talking then you can potentially return earlier.
- In some cases, the wisdom tooth will need to be removed under general anaesthetic. For these procedures, we refer you to a surgeon who’ll do the procedure at a hospital. Typically, these extractions take longer to heal from and produce quite a bit more swelling. Your surgeon will be able to give you an accurate picture of your recovery time.
Most people want to know how long it takes to heal from wisdom tooth recovery because they have to fit it in around work or university commitments. If this is you, we strongly recommend that you don’t wait until the tooth hurts. Once you reach this stage, it becomes an emergency extraction, and you have no chance of scheduling it around your other commitments.
Post procedure care
What to avoid after wisdom teeth removal
- Drinking alcohol
- Strenuous exercise
How to aid the healing process
- Drink plenty of water
- Use ice packs to help with swelling
- Gently rinse your mouth with warm, salty water
Chat to the friendly team at Dental on Beams
We can only give you an accurate picture of how long it will take you to heal from wisdom tooth removal once we examine you and take some x-rays. After we get a good idea of the state of your teeth, we can plan the extraction around whatever commitments you have. So don’t wait till the pain sets in – give our friendly team a call now.