Wisdom teeth are the set of four large teeth that grow at the back of the mouth. Also known as third molars, they are what most people decide to get extracted out. These teeth grow late, between age 15 and 25. By this time, permanent teeth have already taken up space in the mouth. So when wisdom teeth grow, due to lack of room, they don’t position themselves correctly. Hence, they develop at a horizontal angle, crooked or worse – impacted.
Because of their position, wisdom teeth are likely to cause oral health problems ranging from misalignment of teeth to bacterial accumulation and cavities. Therefore, 95% of Americans choose to remove them beforehand, at a young age surgically. But the operation itself is complex and can lead to many possible complications. In this write-up, we look at it with particular detail to medications.
WISDOM TEETH REMOVAL PROCESS:
Wisdom teeth removal surgery takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. During this, you are first given anesthesia to numb your mouth. In the majority of situations, patients are given local anesthesia. These patients do not feel any pain but a slight pressure due to back and fro rocking of the teeth that doctor does to make space in the socket. The patient is awake throughout, and the numbing effect wears off after a few hours.
In the case of general anesthesia, which is rarely administered, the patient sleeps through the surgery and does not experience any discomfort. Sometimes along with anesthesia, sedatives are also given to counter anxiety and to relax the patient.
After numbing the area, for a fully erupted tooth, the procedure is similar to the extraction of other teeth. However, for teeth that have impaction, that is, they are fully or partially buried inside the gum, the surgery is a bit more involved. The doctor dissects the bone and the surrounding gum tissues, and the teeth are then taken out in pieces.
As with any other surgery, there is some chance of things going south during wisdom teeth extraction, which can land in many complications. A nerve or an artery can get damaged, and the dislodged blood clot can leave you with a dry socket. Apart from that, infections, gum inflammation, sore throat, swollen mouth, bleeding, fever, vomiting; all of these are just some of the many risks associated with wisdom teeth removal.
During the process as a numbing drug or to counter the developing oral problems, complications, and their resultant pain, doctors prescribe a range of different medicines. Let us take a look at them.
MEDICATIONS FOR WISDOM TEETH SURGERY:
Below we mention some of the commonly used medicines for and after the wisdom teeth extraction.
FOR LOCAL ANESTHESIA: Local anesthesia is injected near the surgical site, i.e., into the gums around the wisdom tooth. Procaine, famously known as Novocaine, is a type of local anesthesia. A few decades ago, it was the most widely used drug for anesthesia in dentistry, but nowadays, Lidocaine is the most popular local anesthesia for oral surgeries. A lot of dentists use this because its effect lasts for a comparatively longer time.
FOR GENERAL ANESTHESIA: General anesthesia is administered for more lengthy procedures. In the case of dentistry, it is usually used only in big clinics, either through an IV (intravenous) line or is inhaled through a mask. This is used to induce unconsciousness in the patient, and because teeth surgeries are outpatient operations, a general anesthetic is not commonly used.
Many drugs, such as propofol, ketamine, isoflurane, desulfurane, sevoflurane, diazepam, etc., can be used as a general anesthetic.
SEDATIVES: Sedation is used for patients with anxiety. It could be both intravenous or for the patient to breathe in through the mask. With IV sedation, a catheter is placed through which medicine is titrated. Drugs like Versed, Midazolam, and Diprivan are used for deep and profound sedation.
Since there are many risks associated with IV sedation, laughing gas or nitrogen oxide is used most of the time. It is supplied through a mask, and its effect wears off as soon as the mask is removed. It is one safe option that helps patients remain calm during the surgery.
Sedatives are sometimes given along with anesthesia for a safe and smooth operation. A professional doctor well versed in operation should be consulted to decide which anesthesia method best works for you.
PAINKILLERS: Wisdom teeth extraction is major surgery, and it might cause a lot of pain once the effect of anesthesia decreases. Therefore, almost always, doctors prescribe pain killers after the surgery. The most common ones are Ibuprofen and Paracetamol (acetaminophen). A combination of acetaminophen and Ibuprofen is also used for pain relief. You must be mindful of taking this as per the doctor’s prescription and must not go over the maximum dose of each drug.
Doctors strictly advise against using Drugs like aspirin or others which contain acetylsalicylic acid because it increases the risk of bleeding.
FOR INFLAMMATION: Wisdom teeth extraction might result in gum inflammation. The swollen and inflamed gums can cause throbbing pain, and enzyme bromelain is given to counter that. However, one should be careful when using it because there is a lack of research on how beneficial this is.
FOR DRY SOCKET: Dry socket is a severe condition where the blood clot sealing the empty socket dislodges, leaving the extraction site open, exposing the nerves and the wound. This results in throbbing pain and slows down the healing. The empty open socket can trap food and is also more prone to infection. This is a very serious situation with extreme pain and should be dealt with immediately.
For dry sockets, the dentist would probably prescribe a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine such as Bufferin or Ibuprofen.
FOR GUM INFLAMMATION: Wisdom teeth extraction can leave you with inflamed gums. To treat this, doctors mostly suggest numbing gels and home remedies like an ice pack. Apart from that, Ibuprofen might also help.
INFECTION: Wisdom teeth surgery might result in infection due to smoking, dry sockets, etc. If you develop an infection in the gums or the wound, medicines like penicillin, erythromycin, amoxicillin, etc., are usually prescribed.
HOW IMPORTANT IS PRESCRIPTION HISTORY?
What we discussed above are some of the standard medicines most commonly advised. It, however, should be kept in mind that the doctor would ask for your health history and accordingly give you a personalized prescription. And so, you should avoid self-medication and should stick to your doctor’s advice.
Some patients are allergic to certain formulae. And getting those drugs prescribed can have an adverse effect on health. This holds ground not just for the drugs after the surgery but also for the anesthetics. Inform your doctor well about any history of surgeries, diseases, and medicines. This can significantly reduce the risk factor and can save you from any secondary complications.
SOME HOME REMEDIES:
Home remedies play a huge role no matter what the problem. Many organic natural products and ancient medically practiced traditions have been scientifically proven beneficial for recovery from wisdom teeth extraction. Some of them are as follows;
Saltwater mouth wash
Clove for the numbing effect
Green tea and cardamom tea for inflammation
Hot water bags
Parsley and ginger green juice
Make sure you ask your doctor what is safe to use after your surgery.
There are some other habits and things you can adopt to prevent post-operational health issues. These preventive measures are as follows:
It would be best to strictly avoid smoking since it increases the chances of infection and developing a dry socket. For at least ten days after surgery, cigarettes and vape should not be used until the wound does not entirely heal.
Don’t do strenuous exercises, cardio, sauna, energy-consuming sports as they can put a strain on your recovery.
Try to eat mildly cold or cold foods that are soft because hot food can trigger sensitivity. Also, hard morsels can get stuck between your teeth or in the empty socket from which it might get difficult to remove them.
Do not brush too harshly, as it can dislodge the blood clot.
Maintain adequate hygiene, brush, and floss regularly to prevent inflammation, infections, and cavities.
Regularly check with your doctor and get your teeth examined to ensure they are healthy and do not show any health problem symptoms.
HOW LONG DOES PAIN AFTER WISDOM TEETH EXTRACTION SURGERY LAST?
Pain after wisdom teeth surgery lasts on average for about 3-4 days. The recovery time frame differs from person to person, and pain alleviates with healing. However, if you feel the pain emanating from the extraction site days after surgery or if it gets unbearable to contain, get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible.
In this blog, we talked in detail about the various medicines in relation to wisdom teeth extraction. However, note that this was just general information, and if you are a patient, you should take your doctor’s word instead of self-medication. Taking medicine without a doctor’s prescription is dangerous and can land you in serious life-threatening situations. Therefore it is only wise to discuss everything with your doctor before acting on it.