Is wisdom teeth removal painful? It’s a question we’re asked all of the time. We’re here to explain the process in more detail so you know what to expect.
While wisdom tooth removal is commonplace, it’s a treatment associated with pain and something that most people dread.
Fortunately, the process is not as difficult or painful as most people imagine. Since wisdom teeth removal occurs under anaesthesia or sedation, patients feel no pain during the procedure, although they may feel pressure as the teeth are pulled.
That said, patients may experience a certain amount of discomfort following wisdom tooth removal once the effects of the anaesthesia wear off. Typically though, pain peaks several hours after surgery and may last just a few days.
Often this is accompanied by a swollen jaw and cheeks, which can be managed with over the counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen. If the procedure was intensive, the dentist might prescribe stronger pain medication.
So while you know that wisdom teeth removal is not painful, some patients may experience soreness around the surgical site for a few days following wisdom teeth removal. Dentists recommend sticking to a soft food diet for a few days until they feel more comfortable.
What type of anaesthetic is usually given for wisdom tooth removal?
The kind of anaesthetic a dentist gives to patients before wisdom teeth removal depends on their case. Here are some of the different types of anaesthesia:
- Local anaesthesia – Patients stay awake throughout the procedure. They do not feel any pain, but they may sense pressure as it is applied to the operation site.
- Sedation anaesthesia – Patients are not fully conscious during the procedure and will feel no pain. Furthermore, they are unlikely to have any recollection of the process. Patients who receive intravenous sedation experience a longer recovery period and need to be accompanied to and from the clinic by a friend or family member.
- General anaesthesia – Patients are unconscious and unaware of their surroundings during the process. Usually, general anaesthesia is provided in a hospital setting.
- Nitrous and local anaesthesia – This makes patients feel euphoric, and they will be awake during wisdom teeth removal. However, the effects wear off very quickly compared to other forms of anaesthesia.
How to know when wisdom teeth removal is necessary
Some people’s teeth come through with no issues, but others suffer pain, particularly if a wisdom tooth gets stuck (impacted) in the gums. Over time, wisdom teeth can become infected, damage neighbouring teeth, and cause other oral problems. For this reason, wisdom teeth removal gets you out of pain.
Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth include:
- Swollen or red gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Jaw pain and discomfort
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- Constant headaches
- Difficulty opening the mouth or eating
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult with your dentist to see if your wisdom teeth need removing.
Is wisdom teeth removal painful? – How are they removed?
The procedure varies with each individual.
Typically, a dentist will take x-rays of the teeth to get a better picture of the wisdom teeth to determine whether wisdom tooth removal is necessary. The condition and placement of the wisdom teeth will affect the overall procedure. If the wisdom teeth are impacted, the surgery could be more invasive. Here’s what to expect during wisdom teeth removal:
- The dentist will administer local or general anaesthesia or sedation depending on how the wisdom teeth are situated.
- If the wisdom tooth is impacted, the dentist will make an incision into the gums to expose the teeth and bone.
- The tooth may be divided into several pieces to make removal easier.
- In the best-case scenario, the wisdom will be fully exposed and removed easily and quickly
- Once the tooth has been removed, the dentist cleans the site and removes any remaining debris. The gums are then stitched up if necessary.
- The patient will be asked to bite down on a piece of gauze to ease the bleeding and help form a blood clot. Usually, the amount of blood is small and doesn’t last long.
Most patients can get back to work within a couple of days of the wisdom tooth removal procedure. However, if your job is strenuous, your dentist may recommend you take more time off. Returning to a highly physical job too soon after wisdom tooth surgery can lead to painful complications.
Typically, simple wisdom teeth removal comes with a fast recovery. On the other hand, more complex cases can take longer to heal. If your wisdom teeth were impacted, the surgeon or dentist would have had to modify the surrounding bone and tissues, causing the extraction site to take longer to heal.
Also, bear in mind that there is a possibility of infection even with a simple wisdom tooth removal procedure. If that happens, more time off work will be necessary to resolve the problem and recover fully.
So to recap …. is wisdom teeth removal painful?
No! At least not during the procedure, but expect to feel some degree of pain or discomfort a few hours later, which may last for several days.
Are you experiencing problems with your wisdom teeth?
Why not schedule an appointment with the experienced dentists at Complete Dental. We utilise the latest technologies coupled with gentle dentistry to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Webmd.com – Sedation Dentistry: Can you Really Relax in the Dentist’s Chair?
BAOMS – Removal of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Mayo Clinic – Dry Socket