Sooner or later, most of us have to endure the uncomfortable rite of passage known as wisdom teeth removal. Whether you're only having one wisdom tooth or all four extracted, you can make the experience better for yourself by exercising as little forethought. Here are four things you'll want to take care of before you settle down in the dentist's chair for your extraction.
1. Suspend Your Drinking or Smoking Habit
If you regularly smoke or consume alcoholic beverages, you should know that you'll need to avoid these substances after you have your wisdom teeth out. To prevent the clot from dissolving (thus forming an agonizing condition known as a dry socket), your dentist will tell you to avoid alcohol for at 24 hours, and not to smoke for at least 5 days following your procedure. These habits can be tough to break, so get a head start on altering your behavior beforehand if at all possible.
2. Stop Taking Blood-Thinning Medications (With Your Doctor's Approval)
There's no getting around the fact that wisdom teeth removal causes bleeding; in fact, the formation of a blood clot at the extraction site is a critical part of the healing process. Unfortunately, a number of blood-thinning agents can make clotting difficult or cause uncontrolled bleeding during oral surgery. If you're taking prescription blood-thinners for a medical condition, ask your doctor whether you can safely skip a few doses while you're having your wisdom teeth removed. (If it's not possible, your dentist may still be able to proceed by employing special techniques and precautions.) As for non-prescription drugs, skip the aspirin or ibuprofen if you're suffering from mild aches and pains. You'll receive different painkillers for your wisdom tooth extraction recovery.
3. Stock Your Cabinets With Soft Foods
What will you have for dinner after you come home from your extraction? If you haven't thought about this in advance, you may find yourself wandering the supermarket aisles with a mouthful of gauze that evening. Go ahead and make up a shopping list that features soft, safe, healthy food choices. You should have trouble enjoying soups, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, applesauce, bananas, cottage cheese or instant oatmeal, just to name a few menu items. Just resist the urge to spice those foods up, since spices can irritate damaged gum tissue.
4. Get an Infected Wisdom Tooth Treated
Sometimes a wisdom tooth isn't just erupted or impacted -- it's also surrounded by infection. If you're suffering from an infected or abscessed wisdom tooth, you need to make sure that the problem is firmly under control before you go ahead with oral surgery. Your dentist can prescribe antibiotics to kill off the bacteria and restore the surrounding gums to health.
The right preparations can make all the difference in the speed, comfort, and success of your recovery from wisdom teeth removal surgery. You still may not enjoy the procedure, but at least you'll know you're doing it right!