If you are planning to have your wisdom teeth removed for any reason, please read the following information carefully. If you have any further questions or you do not understand any part of this form, please do not hesitate to ask.
What to expect after extractions
1. Pain and Discomfort
This unfortunately follows any extraction or surgical procedure but can generally be well managed with appropriate analgesics (pain killers). The discomfort is usually worse over the first few days. There may still be some pain up to 2 weeks after the teeth have been removed.
The amount of swelling depends on each person and the difficulty of the extraction. The swelling is usually worse two to three days after the surgery and can last for up to a week. Some bruising of the cheek and the area under the jaw may also be seen. Ice packs used in the first 24 hours (20min on – 20min off) may lessen the amount of swelling.
3. Jaw Stiffness
This is due to the swelling and the fact that the muscles that open and close the jaw become tight after the surgery. You may find it difficult to open your mouth wide due to this stiffness. It can take two weeks for this stiffness to resolve and for jaw opening to return to normal.
Important risks associated with extractions
All surgical procedures have some risks associated with them. The following complications, although uncommon, may occur during extractions.
1. Numbness or change in sensation (feeling) of the lower lip or tongue.
Two nerves lie close to the lower wisdom teeth. One nerve gives feeling to the lower lip and chin on one side of the face. The other nerve gives feeling and taste to one side of the tongue. During the extraction of lower wisdom teeth, either or both of these nerves can be damaged.
If the nerve to the lip is damaged, then there can be a change in the way the lip/chin feels. There can be complete or partial loss of feeling as well as ‘pins and needles’ tingling feelings or more rarely, burning or painful sensations. If there is loss of feeling to the lower lip/chin you may not be able to feel saliva or foods stuck on the lip, or feel the temperature of foods and drinks. Men may find shaving difficult.
If the nerve to the tongue is damaged, similar changes to one side of the tongue may occur. Taste on one side of the tongue can also be partly or completely lost. If there was any loss of feeling of the tongue it may lead to accidental biting of the tongue. There may also be a change in speech.
In most cases any loss of feeling or change in feeling will resolve within six months. In a small number of cases (less than 1%) the loss or change in feeling can remain permanently (forever). There are some surgical treatments available if this does occur but they are not always effective and are not suitable for every patient.
Occasionally, an infection can develop in the socket from which the tooth is removed. This may require further treatment including antibiotics and drainage of any abscess that may form. Very rarely it may be necessary to have this infection treated in hospital.
Sometimes there can be extended periods of bleeding from the extraction socket after the tooth is removed. Biting firmly on a piece of gauze for 20 minutes can usually control this. Further instructions will be given to you following the surgery. Please be sure to inform the dentist if you have had any previous problems with bleeding or there has been a history of bleeding problems in your family.
4. Dry Socket
This is a painful condition that sometimes develops after extractions (5-8%). It is easily treated and is often due to smoking in the first 48 hours after the extraction. Following the instructions that you will be given after the surgery will greatly reduce your chances of developing a dry socket.
5. Sinus Problems
Infrequently during the extraction of upper back teeth, a small hole may form in the socket which can allow air or fluids to flow between the sinus (an air space in the top jaw) and the mouth. If this occurs you will be given extra instructions after the surgery. This may require further treatment later. If you have had upper back teeth removed, try not to blow your nose or use a straw for the first few days after surgery.
6. Other risks
Other risks include: damage to adjacent teeth or fillings, damage to adjacent soft tissues (eg lip or tongue), fracture of the jaw and tenderness of the TMJ (jaw joint).
The purpose of this form is to provide you with details of the risks involved in wisdom teeth removal. Please remember that there are many good reasons for having your wisdom teeth removed and some risks in keeping your wisdom teeth such as: ongoing pain and infection, formation of cysts, decay in the wisdom teeth and adjacent teeth.
Please ensure that you carefully clean your teeth and gums around you wisdom teeth for one week prior to the surgery. This will help healing of the area.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact the dental surgery.