Wisdom Tooth Extraction: Before Your Procedure

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What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the upper and lower third molars. These teeth are at the very back of your mouth. They are the last teeth to surface in the mouth. They are called wisdom teeth because they usually come in when a person is between 17 and 21 years old-old enough to have gained some "wisdom."

Some people have their wisdom teeth for their entire life. Other people choose to have their wisdom teeth removed. Some people have these teeth taken out before they break through the gums.

An oral surgeon or dentist can remove wisdom teeth. The procedure can be done in the dentist's or surgeon's office. You may have the procedure in the hospital, if you are having all your wisdom teeth pulled at one time.

Your dentist will open up the gum tissue over the tooth and take out any bone that is covering the tooth. He or she will separate the tissue that connects the tooth to the bone. Then the dentist will remove the tooth. The tooth may be cut into smaller pieces to make it easier to remove.

After the tooth is removed, you may need stitches. Some stitches dissolve over time. Some stitches have to be removed after a few days. Your dentist will tell you if your stitches need to be removed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your dentist if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your procedure. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before the procedure. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The doctor will numb (freeze) the area being worked on.
  • How long the procedure will take depends on how many teeth are removed.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your procedure. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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