Surgery Day for Your Wisdom Teeth – What to Expect
So here you are for your appointment for oral surgery—you are here for the removal of at least one wisdom tooth, possibly four (or more!), by an oral surgeon. Having to come in has either been because you're having a problem with one or more teeth, or has been recommended to help prevent a problem, and you'll have already been by once to see us for a consultation to arrange this surgery. Orthodontists are quick to request that wisdom teeth be removed to prevent unwanted movement in your finished orthodontic (braces) result, and if you've had the discomfort of pressure, or even pain with swelling in your face, you are seeing—and feeling—signs that you don't have enough room for your wisdom teeth. So you've entered the room where our kind team is ready to help you!
First of all, you'll have remembered to not eat or drink anything since eight hours before your oral surgery, a very important preventive measure if you are going under anesthesia. In almost all cases, an I.V. (intravenous) will be placed before you go to sleep. Placing the I.V. first is also for your safety. If you're fearful of the thought of the I.V., I will offer you nitrous oxide ("laughing gas"). This is not intended to put you to sleep, but will relax most patients significantly. It's mostly the thought of the I.V. that bothers people, but the pinch isn't bad—especially with the nitrous. So please try to remain calm and still, and you'll be off to sleep in no time!
Within one or two minutes of placing the I.V. you will be asleep—or heavily sedated, depending on the method chosen by you and the oral surgeon (I.V. sedation or I.V. general anesthesia). With the sedation, there is minimal chance in our office that you will remember anything about your surgery; under general anesthesia, you will definitely remember nothing about the actual surgery.
So now that you're asleep, the typical wisdom tooth surgery takes 30-45 minutes, and then you'll be awakened. During any oral surgery, you'll be monitored no differently than in the hospital; there will be no fewer than three people in the room with you at all times while you're asleep. We do our best to keep waiting family posted on the progress of your surgery. Finally, your wisdom tooth (or wisdom teeth!) is removed. You'll have no pain when you awaken because "novocaine," or local anesthesia, is used after you are asleep. Swelling is variable, and most of our patients have minimal swelling because the wisdom teeth are removed via very small openings. You'll leave with ice on your face, which will help prevent swelling. If you're an easy bruiser, you could see more swelling. Altogether, between going to sleep and waking up enough to be driven home by your ride, you'll be in the office about 1.5 hours.
We faxed your prescriptions to the pharmacy before the oral surgery even started, so they hopefully will be ready for you to pick up on the way home. We do start an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen for you before leaving, so most people are fairly comfortable to begin with when the local anesthesia wears off. I tell patients that their face will feel like it's "somewhere else" when they awaken, because of the local anesthesia. No driving for the rest of the day, and take it easy for at least 48 hours. You'll leave with all instructions discussed with both you and your ride, and everything will be written down also. You'll have my personal cellphone to call after hours if you have any questions, and I will call you the evening of the oral surgery to make sure you're feeling well and answer any questions you may have. Don't forget the one week postoperative visit (very quick) if one has been scheduled for you. Our office will follow you along and help in any and every way we can during your recovery!
Now see? That wasn't so hard!