Getting wisdom teeth taken out

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Having your wisdom teeth out won't affect your face or your mouth long term, but you might have swelling for a few days. After you've recovered from the surgery your mouth will feel more comfortable and less crowded.

There are several options for how to have your wisdom teeth taken out, and your dentist will advise which is the best for you.

Although you might think you'd rather not have them taken out because it's not very pleasant, try to remember that having them out will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

You will be in excellent hands and your dentist or surgeon will make the surgery as comfortable as possible.

Here Dr Brian Franks, clinical director of dentistry at Bupa, has given us a rundown of the different ways to have your wisdom teeth taken out and tips on how you can help your mouth to recover.

Your dentist or surgeon will always explain what's going to happen.

How they're taken out

Wisdom teeth that have grown normally into the mouth will usually be taken out by straightforward removal.

If the wisdom tooth is impacted, ie has not grown fully into the mouth or is completely encased in the jaw bone, the gum will be pushed back and a bit of the jaw bone will need to be removed too.

You might need a few stitches. Sometimes they dissolve naturally or you might need to come back to have them taken out.

After the surgery you'll be given information on how to look after your mouth.

Local anaesthetic

A local anaesthetic is when the area around your tooth is numbed. You'll have an injection into your gum which will be near enough painless. The tooth will then be taken out without you being able to feel it.

Side effects
A local anaesthetic lasts for 2-4 hours (your dentist will make it last for as long as they need it to). While the anaesthetic is working you'll have numbness of your mouth and lip. This will have no long-term effect on your face.

Your mouth will begin to heal after about a week. The gum will usually heal completely after a month, although it can take 3-6 months for the bone to remodel.

The more complicated the surgery the longer it'll take to heal. So if you have had some bone removed it's likely to be a bit more sore. This isn't anything to worry about but you should rest for the night after you've had the surgery and take care over the next few days. You're fine to go to work the next day.

Conscious sedation

Conscious sedation is where you're given a drug that doesn't make you sleep but makes you feel more relaxed and light-headed. You'll be given a local anaesthetic as well. You will still respond to commands but you won't remember much of the surgery afterwards.

The sedation will either be given through the a needle in the back of the hand, or a milder one will be given as a tablet or by breathing in gas through a mask.

This is sometimes given to nervous patients to avoid them having a general anaesthetic (which takes longer to recover from). You can request this if you're having your wisdom teeth out, but not all dentists will have the facilities to do it. They can refer you to somewhere that does.

Side effects
Sedation makes you feel drowsy afterwards, so you'll need someone to help you get home. Having this treatment won't affect how long it takes your mouth to recover.

It's the same as if you have them taken out with just a local anaesthetic, it will depend on how difficult the extraction was.

General anaesthetic

A general anaesthetic is often used if taking the teeth out is going to take longer than normal. This could be because it's a more difficult extraction or sometimes because it's for more than one tooth.

You'll need to go to a hospital to have wisdom teeth out this way. Sometimes you'll be given a pre-med before the surgery which will make you feel relaxed.

You'll then have a scratch into your hand and a needle will be put in - it'll only feel like a tiny pinprick - the surgeons are very skilled. Then they'll put a sedative in and before you know it you'll be awake and the surgery will be over.

Side effects
You'll be drowsy for 24-48 hours and might need to take a day or two off work. You'll need someone to take you home. Other side effects include feeling confused and having a headache and a sore throat for a few days.

Continued below...

The general anaesthetic doesn't affect the healing time of the mouth - but if it was a more difficult extraction (which it could be - that's one of the reasons the dentist might have suggested you had a general anaesthetic anyway) then it will take longer to heal then a straightforward extraction would.

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