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Post-operative care for Wisdom Teeth Extraction

wisdom teeth removal

The recovery period for wisdom teeth extraction usually lasts a couple of days. You will be given prescriptions for pain and antibiotics to prevent infection after the surgery. Follow the dosage exactly to prevent any problems which could delay healing. Also, try to have something in your stomach before taking the medications to prevent nausea and vomiting.

Following the procedure, you will be given plenty of gauze to take with you. Bite gently on the gauze pad periodically, and change pads as they become soaked with blood. The bleeding should slowly subside. Phone your dentist or oral surgeon if the bleeding persists after 24 hours.

While your mouth is numb, be careful not to bite the inside of your cheek, lip, or tongue. Also, be careful of very hot foods as they can burn your mouth without your knowledge.

You should keep your head elevated to help stop the bleeding. Don’t lie flat. An ice pack is imperative during the first 24 hours following surgery. Place the ice pack on the outside of the cheek for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. You can begin using moist heat the following 2-3 days.

Be prepared to relax after surgery for at least three to four days. Physical activity can increase bleeding. No heavy lifting.

Your diet post surgery should consist of soft foods such as gelatin, pudding, soup, and ice cream. Gradually introduce solid foods as your healing progresses.

It will seem easier to use a straw after surgery. This is a NO-NO. Do not use a straw for the first few days. Sucking on a straw can loosen the blood clot and delay healing.

After the first 24 hours, you will begin gently rinsing with warm salt water three times a day for 7-10 days to reduce pain and swelling. Be very careful with rinsing and don’t swish too hard to prevent dislodging the clot. A salt water rinse consists of 1 teaspoon of table salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water.

Do not smoke for at least 24 hours after your surgery. The sucking motion can loosen the clot and delay healing. Also, smoking decreases the blood supply to the area and can bring germs and contaminants to the surgical site.

Continue to brush your teeth and tongue carefully and avoid touching the extraction sites the day after surgery. You will be given a large curved syringe to help clean the extraction sites with which you will begin using after five days. Fill the syringe with the warm salt water solution and carefully cleanse the site.

Your oral surgeon will remove the stitches after a few days if needed. However, many surgeons use dissolvable sutures which don’t require removal.

The key to a speedy recovery is to be prepared before the surgery. If you’re being sedated, you’ll need someone to drive you and be with you for at least 24 hours after the procedure. Have your prescriptions filled beforehand and obtain the necessary supplies such as food, ice packs, and awesome movies!

OUCH! My Wisdom Teeth Are Killing Me!

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Wisdom teeth or third molars are an issue for most people at some point in their lives. Usually erupting between the ages of 17 and 25,  most adults have four wisdom teeth, one in each of the four quadrants. However, it’s possible to have fewer or more. Wisdom teeth commonly affect other teeth as they develop due to becoming impacted. Most people don’t have adequate room for these teeth to erupt fully in the mouth. Therefore,  they are often extracted when or even before they present a problem.

Impaction of these teeth means that they are enclosed within the soft tissue and/or the bone. Occasionally, they only partially break through or erupt through the gum which allows an opening and optimal habitat for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection. This situation can result in pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and systemic illness. Partially erupted teeth are also more prone to tooth decay, gum disease, and periodontal disease because their location and awkward positioning makes brushing and flossing nearly impossible.

So, how do you know if the pain you’re experiencing is related to wisdom teeth? If the discomfort is coming from any far corner of your mouth, the source may be a third molar. A visit to your dentist will be necessary. A panoramic x-ray will determine if you have wisdom teeth and their position. It’s very common to be referred to an oral surgeon for an evaluation and extraction, if necessary.

Failing to have wisdom teeth removed when it has been recommended can cause ongoing complications such as:

Pain- The most prevalent complaint regarding wisdom teeth is pain which is frequently due to the presence of infection. The pain can be present in your jaw, throat, ear, face, or the site of the tooth.

Systemic Infection- Bacteria present at the site of the wisdom teeth can enter the bloodstream and cause a systemic infection. This can be very dangerous for patients with a weakened immune system.

Proper Cleaning- It’s difficult to clean partially erupted wisdom teeth properly because of their position in the mouth, and as a result, food and plaque buildup can cause a gum infection around the tooth. This type of infection is usually reoccurring until the source of the infection is removed. Infected wisdom teeth can also promote decay of surrounding teeth.

Shifting Teeth-  Impacted wisdom teeth can create pressure by trying unsuccessfully to erupt. This type of pressure can cause teeth to shift. That’s why it’s recommended to have them extracted after orthodontics.

Cysts-  Although not too common, cysts in the bone can occur around the impacted wisdom tooth. This type of cyst can cause the destruction of bone.

If it has been recommended that you have your third molars taken out, give it some serious consideration. The younger you are, the easier it is overall to recover from the surgery, and the recurring complications aren’t likely to resolve without treatment.

I'm Waiting... The Hygienist's Schedule

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Dental practices are busy. Running and running and running is what we do all day long. However, how long are your patient’s waiting for you?  I’m not referring to running behind schedule from time to time. I’m talking about chronically keeping your patients waiting for unacceptable periods of time.

What’s making it impossible to stay on schedule? Today we are going to focus on the Hygienists schedule. The good news is that hygienists rarely have emergencies placed on their schedule making it easier to manage the day. However, it’s still very easy to get behind.

Perhaps the biggest reason hygienists run behind is waiting for the doctor to perform the exam. Notice I didn’t say perform the exam at the end of the appointment. One of the biggest improvements in my schedule as a hygienist regarding staying on time is having the doctor examine the patient when they have a break in their schedule.

Here’s how it works. Seat your patient, go over their medical history, do the initial exam including X-rays and intraoral pictures, and note any concerns or problems. You’re then ready to have the doctor perform the exam at any time during the appointment.

This system will need compromise from the hygienist and doctor. The hygienist must be ready when the doctor presents for the exam, and the doctor may have to examine a mouth that isn’t perfectly clean.

Making these simple adjustments improves the schedules of the Doctor and Hygienist immensely. Futhermore, having the Doctor examine all the hygienist’s at the same time will make a huge difference in keeping all of the team on time resulting in happy patients.

I'm Waiting... The Doctor's Schedule

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Dental practices are busy. Running and running and running is what we do all day long. However, how long are your patient’s waiting for you?  I’m not referring to running behind schedule from time to time. I’m talking about chronically keeping your patients waiting for unacceptable periods of time.

What’s making it impossible to stay on schedule? Today we are going to focus on the Doctor’s schedule which can be very complicated due to having regular scheduled appointments and emergencies. It’s imperative that your appointment coordinator fully understands how to schedule appointments and handle emergencies while respecting the allotted time.

With regards to emergencies, you have to establish the meaning of a true emergency. Many times, the patient will call in a panic when the situation isn’t a true emergency. Also, it’s not mandatory to provide full treatment to a patient with an emergency. Triage is certainly acceptable, and the patient can be reappointed for further treatment.

Many Dentists have an all or nothing mentality. They feel that they have to provide full treatment during an emergency appointment which can prove to be detrimental. It’s absolutely prudent to get the patient stabilized and reappointed. When you treat an emergency as a scheduled appointment, you risk putting yourself and the rest of the team behind.

Sit down with your front desk and iron out appointment times and what constitutes an emergency. Much of the stress can be avoided by not scheduling a patient in an emergency slot who isn’t truly experiencing an emergency.

Another strategy to consider is performing hygiene exams whenever you have a break. Meet with the hygienists and form a protocol, so that patient information is collected at the beginning of the appointment allowing you to pop in whenever. Furthermore, check all hygienists at one time, so you’re not jumping up and down more than once per hour.

By incorporating these simple strategies, you can rest assured that everyone’s time is respected and your days will run much smoother.

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