What's it like: To have your wisdom teeth removed

Wisdom teeth are your third molars, the last teeth to come in, usually appearing between age 17 and 25.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: December 30, 2012

Does it hurt?

During the procedure, you will most likely be asleep and should not feel any pain. Generally, you're sent home with a prescription for pain medication. Many patients switch to over-the-counter pain medicine after about two days. After about six days, you will most likely be off all pain medications.

What are the risk factors?

As with any surgery, there's a risk of bleeding and infection. After the procedure, you will take home an irrigation syringe to help you keep food out of the wound area. You will have to use the syringe to clean the area for one week to two weeks following the surgery.

Dry sockets can also occur when the blood clot that forms in the socket where the tooth was extracted either breaks down or doesn't form properly. Your doctor's office usually has medicine that can ease the aching pain dry sockets cause.

There's a slight risk that your surgeon can damage nerves beneath your teeth and cause a numb sensation in your lower lip, tongue or chin. This occurs in less than 1 percent of patients.

What's the recovery time?

You'll need to take it easy for about two days, and your doctor will likely recommend you not exercise or participate in strenuous activity for at least four days. Also, you'll be on a soft food diet for four or five days after the procedure.

What's the follow-up?

About a week after your surgery, your surgeon might want to see you briefly to ensure your extraction sites are healing well. This is a good time to ask any additional questions you might have.

Sources: Dr. Scott Searcey, Oral and Maxillofacial Associates; American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons; Medline Plus; The Mayo Clinic

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, medicine and fitness, among other things. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a news-editorial and broadcast production degree. Outside of work, she enjoys riding her bike, taking pictures of...
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