A friend recently had her wisdom teeth removed. The day after the wisdom tooth extraction procedure, I paid a visit with some soup for her to enjoy as she healed. Before she opened the door, she said very clearly “prepare yourself”, and then swung the door open. I was surprised by the amount of swelling in her jaw and face, and she told me her dentist had made sure she was aware wisdom teeth swelling could happen.
This patient wondered if wisdom teeth removal swelling of this kind was common, and asked about it as we began talking about her upcoming wisdom teeth extraction. I indicated that it was not unusual for the face, jaw, and mouth to swell because the removal process is a form of trauma.
“Trauma?” she asked with a bit of a shaky voice. I couldn’t help smiling and took the time to explain the underlying causes for wisdom teeth removal swelling. It was clear that this gave her a huge sense of relief.
This is what she learned about the issue:
Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars buried way at the back of the jaw. When they emerge, they can cause some problems if they do not pop through the gums straight, or even pop through the gums at all. There is tremendous pressure on the teeth as wisdom teeth emerge, and if one is crooked it can often rub against other teeth and force them to move. This process can also cause breakage, decay, and damage.
Clearly, there is a lot going on in the tiny spaces allotted to wisdom teeth, and this means that anything done in those small areas is likely to be a bit traumatic. So, it should be understood that wisdom teeth removal swelling was highly likely and not something that indicated a problem of any kind.
I went on a bit further and explained that the gum tissue may need to be opened, that small areas of bone might need to be altered, and that a lot of wisdom teeth are removed in pieces rather than intact, it made it even clearer that all patients should anticipate some wisdom teeth removal swelling.
She asked how this should all be dealt with if it occurred, and was not surprised to hear that ice packs, a liquid diet, and pain relievers known as NSAIDs were the most common tactics. She was also glad to hear that most people had their wisdom tooth swelling disappear in a week or less. Now she is ready for her wisdom teeth removal.