If you're having your wisdom teeth removed soon, you're certainly not alone. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, about ninety-percent of all people have a wisdom tooth that's impacted. Thinking about your upcoming wisdom teeth extraction can be stressful and intimidating, but you can make the recovery process much smoother by thoroughly preparing yourself for your oral surgery and recovery ahead of time.
Preparing for Your Surgical Appointment
- Get the facts. Ask an oral surgeon, like Oral & Maxillofacial Surgical Associates, about any special instructions you need to follow before your surgery. He or she may advise you to stop taking certain medications prior to your surgery. Ask how long the entire procedure and subsequent monitoring time is expected to take. You might be required to stay in the clinic for several hours after the extraction.
- Line up transportation. Make arrangements to have someone drive you to and from your appointment. You may be groggy and quite sore after surgery, and it won't be safe for you to drive.
- Schedule time off to heal. You'll need a few days, or even weeks depending on your job responsibilities, off work to heal after your surgery. Collect any necessary paperwork for your work leave so you'll have it ready for your surgeon's office before your appointment. If you're the primary caregiver for a young child, arrange for backup childcare so you can rest.
Preparing for Your Recovery
- Know the risks. Ask your surgeon what symptoms to look for that could indicate a problem after your surgery and which symptoms are considered a normal part of the healing process. Keep a list of these symptoms handy so you'll know when to call if you're having difficulties with bleeding, numbness, or pain.
- Stage a restful area. Gather pillows, blankets, books, movies or anything you like to do and arrange them in a clean, quiet area in your home so you have a comfortable place to rest when you get home. Physical activity can increase bleeding, so you'll want to stay sedentary for at least a couple of days after surgery.
- Prepare for pain management. Applying ice packs to the outside of your cheeks for 15 to 20 minutes at a time can help reduce swelling and pain. After the swelling subsides in a few days, you may find applying a warm compress helps more than ice. Rinsing your mouth out gently with salt water can also help with pain and inflammation. Have acetaminophen or ibuprofen available, and arrange to have someone pick up any prescription pain medications you're given after your appointment. Make sure that you or your caregiver avoids picking up aspirin, since it can thin your blood, and your wounds won't be able to clot and heal properly.
- Go grocery shopping. You'll be eating soft foods, such as pudding, gelatin and soup, for at least a few days after surgery. Don't buy straws – sucking can lead to a painful complication called dry socket – but keep plenty of cold, non-alcoholic beverages on hand to keep yourself hydrated.