Is wisdom teeth removal painful? It’s a frequently asked question about this common procedure. Fortunately, with modern techniques and anaesthesia, you won’t feel a thing during the surgery. You may experience some discomfort and swelling after a wisdom tooth removal procedure, but there are ways to manage this to a minimum.
When Is wisdom tooth removal necessary?
Typically emerging in your late teens to early twenties, there are two schools of thought about wisdom tooth removal. Some argue that wisdom teeth should be left alone and simply monitored. If they do start to cause problems at some point in the future, only then should wisdom teeth removal be considered.
However, others maintain that there is always a chance they will cause oral health problems in later years and recommend removing them in childhood before they emerge. This is because the teeth are generally easier to remove before the root fully develops and becomes firmly anchored in the jaw. Circumstances where wisdom teeth removal may be considered, include:
- Wisdom teeth that are impacted (have failed to emerge and are embedded in the gum or bone)
- Partially emerged wisdom teeth
- Emerged wisdom teeth that have caused crowding or damage to other teeth
- Extensive tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Repeated infections
- Pain or discomfort
What to expect during wisdom teeth removal surgery?
A general dentist typically performs most wisdom teeth extractions under a local anaesthetic so that you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. X-rays are taken to show the position of the tooth and its roots. If the extraction is likely to be complex, it may need to be carried out by an oral surgeon.
For an uncomplicated case, the area around the tooth is numbed with a local anaesthetic, and the tooth is removed by simply rocking the tooth back and forth to loosen it until it is easy enough to slip out using a pair of forceps.
Sometimes stitches may be required once the wisdom tooth has been removed, but this isn’t always necessary.
Is wisdom teeth removal painful after surgery?
Fortunately, pain medication can be taken to ease any pain after wisdom tooth removal. You can take actions to ensure minimal discomfort that won’t interfere with your usual routines for too long.
Immediately after a wisdom tooth removal procedure, there will likely be bleeding from the extraction sides. Gauze pads may be placed over the wounds, and you will be asked to bite down gently on them, which will encourage blood clots to form. This will stop the bleeding and is an essential part of the recovery process as the clots help form a protective barrier from infection.
Bleeding may persist for a couple of days, but after 12 hours, you can replace the gauze with a cold, damp tea bag. Tea leaves contain tannic acid, which is helpful for blood clotting, and the coolness of the tea bag can help reduce swelling.
Facial swelling may be a problem after wisdom teeth removal, but applying ice packs to the side of the face over the extraction sites can reduce swelling and bruising. The packs should be applied 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for the first 1-2 days. This may be easier said than done—and if you have four extraction sites, holding the packs in place can mean your hands get very cold.
A gel facial ice pack mask may be a good alternative—so at least your hands will still be free while you are wearing it.
3. Prevent Infection
You must maintain oral hygiene after wisdom tooth removal to prevent infection. You will be given full instructions on brushing and flossing by the dentist, but you must be careful not to dislodge any blood clots.
You should avoid commercial mouthwashes after wisdom teeth removal as they generally contain alcohol and can cause irritation around the extraction sites. Antibacterial mouthwashes, such as Corsodyl, are a better option as they promote tissue healing and actively fight infection.
You can also make up a saline (salt) water solution with warm water and table salt that you can use to rinse your mouth throughout the day. Salt is a natural antiseptic and contains anti-inflammatory properties that will not irritate the soft tissues in your mouth.
When using any mouthwash, be gentle and don’t swish it around too vigorously so as not to disturb any blood clots.
Conclusion: Is wisdom teeth removal painful?
The wisdom tooth removal procedure itself is unlikely to be painful due to the anaesthesia used. However, after the procedure, you will need to be proactive in taking appropriate pain medication and looking after yourself properly and as instructed by the dentist. The answer to “Is wisdom teeth removal painful?” is likely to be a resounding “no” in these circumstances.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Australian Dental Association -Wisdom Teeth: To Remove or Not to Remove
Colgate: Using Tea Bags After Wisdom Teeth Removal