Ancient Greeks and Disney channel stars may not have a lot in common but from Aristotle to Zendaya, they have all had to deal with “wisdom teeth”, our late arriving third molars which often need removal by surgery.
“The last teeth to come in man are molars called 'wisdom-teeth', which come at the age of twenty years, in the case of both sexes,” wrote Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. in “The History of Animals”.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) would give Aristotle an “A” for accuracy as they estimate that “third molars typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25, once called 'Age of Wisdom.'”
Impacted Wisdom Teeth are Now Common
If one or more of your wisdom teeth are impacted, unable to break through the gum and not fully grow in , then, like actress and singer Zendaya when she was 22, you may have to have a dentist or oral surgeon remove them.
Zendaya’s generation is much more likely to face impacted wisdom teeth than in the era of Aristotle, a fact that can likely be attributed to our modern diet that relies on softer foods.
The Ohio State University says, “third molar impaction became 10 times more common after the Industrial Revolution than it was previously.”
The AAOMS now estimates that “Nine out of 10 people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth, making wisdom tooth extraction a common outpatient surgery.”
Getting Ready for Your Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery
Wisdom teeth removal is a common outpatient surgery, but it is important for the patients, and their parents or guardians if they are under age 18, be prepared to take notes and ask questions during the consultation with the dentist or oral surgeon.
Once surgery has been recommended and a date has been set, these following steps recommended by the AAOMS can help you prepare for wisdom teeth removal surgery:
· Leading up to the surgery day you can continue your normal daily routine.
· If your oral surgeon has suggested recommended post-surgery foods, now is the time to go shopping and have them on hand.
· Patients should make work and school arrangements for “time off” for the day of surgery and possibly for recovery days after.
· A ride home from the surgery needs to be arranged in advance.
· In the hours leading up to the surgery, follow instructions about eating and drinking, especially if undergoing IV sedation or general anesthesia.
· Avoid alcohol or tobacco use for at least eight hours prior to surgery.
· Brush your teeth prior to your surgery appointment.
· Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to the surgery.
Recovering from Your Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery
There is no need for apprehension about your wisdom teeth removal surgery as the IV sedation or general anesthesia will make it a stress-free procedure.
The AAOMS recommends the following steps to help with discomfort and the recovery process after your surgery:
· Avoid eating small, hard foods, and chewing near the extraction site(s).
· Gently rinse with warm salt water if food gets stuck in the area where your wisdom teeth were removed.
· Gently brush teeth with a manual toothbrush while recovering.
· Avoiding the use of drinking straws.
· Take any medication, as prescribed by your surgeon.
· Do not smoke while recovering.
Remember, it is normal to have some pain and bleeding for several days after wisdom teeth removal. In the hours following the surgery gauze applied to the impacted area can help absorb bleeding.
In the first 48 hours of recovery, a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in cloth can be applied to the outside of your jaws to help with swelling and take care of the classic “chipmunk cheeks” that can result from the surgery.
What to Eat (and Not Eat) After Having Your Wisdom Teeth Removed
One of the most common questions oral surgeons get from patients is what type of food and drink they can safely consume after wisdom teeth removal.
It is important to stick with a soft or liquid-based diet in the first few days after the surgery such as yogurt, applesauce, broth soups, and ice cream.
Smoothies or pureed foods can be prepared in blenders that do not require chewing.
Here are some foods to consider as your healing progresses:
· Scrambled eggs
· Mashed potatoes
· Soft pastas
Meat and fish should only be eaten if finely cut up to minimize chewing.
It is also important to avoid some food and drinks while recovering such as:
· Hot beverages
· Spicy foods
· Hard food such as nuts, seeds and popcorn
· Acidic fruits like oranges and tomatoes
· Carbonated beverages such as sodas
Most people will find that they are feeling back to normal within four days and most people return to normal activities within one week.
If, however, you should experience an adverse reaction during recovery, such as difficulty breathing or swallowing, or excessive bleeding or fever then contact your dentist or oral surgeon.
The professionals at Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery are here to help you with any questions you have related to your impacted wisdom teeth.