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"I’ve had problems with my wisdom teeth for the last two years. They were one of those things that I kept putting off, but eventually, I realized they had to be dealt with – I was getting frequent headaches and sinus problems as a result of the teeth moving around and also noticed that they were beginning to push my visible front teeth out of their normal positions, causing them to overlap.
**Warning: some graphic images of the procedure below**
So What Are Wisdom Teeth Anyway?
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that appear later in a person’s development, usually during the late teens or early twenties. Although they can be properly aligned and perfectly healthy, more often they pose a risk to the overall health of one’s mouth. Your dentist will be watching them with periodic x-rays in order to evaluate their development and alignment and decide if further action needs to be taken. They may need to be removed for a number of reasons. If your wisdom teeth are misaligned they may crowd or damage the adjacent teeth, jawbones, or nerves (which is what was happening to me). This misalignment may be present in the form of horizontal positioning, angling toward or away from the second molars, or be angled inward or outward.
Your wisdom teeth may also be impacted, which means that they’re enclosed within the soft tissue/jawbone and may only partially break through the gum because they can’t fully emerge due to lack of room. This means that an opening is present that isn’t healed and allows for bacteria to enter and cause an infection, leading to further problems like swelling, jaw stiffness, pain, and general illness as the infection can travel throughout the body. The partial erupted teeth are also more prone to decay and gum disease because the positioning makes brushing and flossing difficult.
My wisdom teeth removal started with a consultation with my CDA Angie and Dr. Legault. Angie walked me through what to expect, what prescriptions would be required and when to take them, the optional treatments (like Nitrous Oxide, or laughing gas), and what would be covered by my dental insurance. Although I’m not a very nervous patient and wasn’t feeling much anxiety about the surgery, it was very comforting having Angie talk me through the steps of the procedure beforehand. She was very clear that if I had any concerns leading up to or during the surgery to let them know so they could take the appropriate steps to alleviate those concerns. We also took a full 3D X-Ray (pictured below, wisdom teeth are the most exterior teeth on the top and bottom right and left) to allow Angie and Dr. Legault to accurately assess the positioning of the wisdom teeth and the difficulty of the procedure. Dr. Legault felt confident that it would be a fairly straightforward procedure, so I was sent on my way!
The Day Of
My prescription included Triazolam (a sedative), and I took 2 tablets 90 minutes before my appointment. I had a ride to the appointment (you shouldn’t drive yourself with sedatives in your system!), and when I arrived I was already feeling a little wobbly so Rebecca (my CDA for the procedure) walked me back to the operating room.
Once back there, Rebecca got me settled in with a blanket and Netflix on the TV mounted on the ceiling. I was still feeling very awake and aware, so we opted for one more tablet of Triazolam. A pulse oximeter was placed on my finger to monitor my oxygen levels, and since I had opted for Nitrous, the face mask was put on and the gas turned on.
By this point, I was feeling nice and relaxed and very dazed. Esther, a hygienist, came in to administer the local anesthetic. I felt the normal pinches when the needle went in, but it wasn’t anything overly uncomfortable. My lips, tongue, and roof of my mouth were all frozen which, as is normal and as they warned me would happen, made it a bit more difficult to swallow and talk. I was also told that I could still expect to feel pressure and vibrations during the procedure but shouldn’t feel anything painful, which proved to be true.
Once I was frozen, Rebecca placed a bite block to help me stay open without straining my jaw, which was a HUGE relief. Throughout the entire procedure, the team kept reminding me to wave my hand if I was uncomfortable or needed to stop for any reason and to stay still and calm to ensure the procedure went quickly with good results.
Dr. Legault began with my lower right wisdom tooth. He started by making a small incision and removed some bone from around the tooth. The tooth was then removed with forceps. To me, the pressure and vibration felt like what I imagine a wall would feel like when someone’s screwing a screw into it with a screwdriver and it’s being turned a little harder and more slowly, with more resistance, for the last couple of turns. It wasn’t painful at all, but I could definitely feel the pressure as Dr. Legault worked the tooth out. The same was true for the other 3 teeth – there were pressure and vibration but no pain, and they repeatedly topped up my local anesthetic to ensure I was comfortable.
Both upper teeth came out quickly and didn’t require any sutures (stitches that dissolve or fall out without needing to be removed). Both of my bottom teeth did require sutures and required a little more pressure to remove. I was given gauze to bite down on for 20 minutes to help with the bleeding while I waited for my ride to arrive. I was fully aware the entire time but was entirely comfortable and relaxed. When my ride arrived to pick me up I was supported out to the car, as I was definitely dizzy and needed help standing and walking. I was given post-op instructions to change my gauze every 15-20 minutes until the bleeding stopped, avoid sucking on straws, avoid strenuous activity, and avoid any mouth rinsing or spitting for 72 hours. I was also told to stick with liquids and soft foods that wouldn’t get embedded in any of the extraction sites or irritate any parts of my mouth.
I didn’t experience much bruising (although I definitely went part chipmunk for a couple of days) and the pain was absolutely manageable with the medication I was prescribed. I was back to regular food about 5 days after the procedure and went out for dinner for a friend’s birthday 3 days after (3rd picture below, was definitely still swollen but was able to eat pasta). I was feeling pretty much completely back to normal 7 days after.
The only complication that arose came to my attention about 2 weeks after the surgery: my upper left socket seemed to be leaking something and there was pain shooting up through my nasal cavity toward my left eye. The team at Accent got me in right away to check things out – turns out the problem was caused by a little tear in my nasal wall which was resulting in a lot of pressure problems and my sinuses draining into my mouth. This can happen because the wall is extremely thin and the added stress of the wisdom tooth extraction could have caused the tear. It also could’ve been the result of the tooth’s root being embedded in the wall, so when it was removed a hole was left. I was advised to avoid sneezing and blowing my nose to give it time to heal up on its own and not blow it back open again. I was also put on another round of antibiotics to ensure there wasn’t an infection. If it didn’t feel better in a few weeks we would have to do another surgery to seal it back up with artificial material, but luckily it healed over by itself and didn’t come to that.
The team at Accent was absolutely phenomenal leading up to and during my surgery and in the follow up with the complications after the fact. They focused on ensuring I was comfortable and informed the entire time and minimized any nerves or anxiety I was feeling about the procedure. The entire process was quick, efficient, and easy – if you have any dental work that needs to be done, whether it be routine, surgical, or cosmetic, I highly recommend Dr. Legault and the team at Accent Dental."
- Carlie Whitwham