It’s not uncommon for teenagers to have their wisdom teeth removed as they come in, especially if they’re getting impacted or crowding other teeth and causing misalignment issues. However, there are also plenty of adults who elect to have their wisdom teeth removed later on.
For some there’s no need to remove them if they grow in fine and have no impact on other teeth. That said, the fact that they’re in the back of your mouth can make them hard to clean, and this can lead to issues like cavities. At some point, it may be in your best interest to have them removed.
Whether you go under general anesthesia for this process or the extractions are simple enough that your wisdom teeth can be pulled like normal teeth with little more than Novocain, you’re going to experience some down time following the procedure. It generally takes at least two weeks for your mouth to fully heal, and for the first 2-4 days following extraction, you’re going to have some swelling.
How can you reduce swelling and speed the healing process after wisdom tooth removal? There are several steps you can take to facilitate recovery and keep pain and swelling to a minimum.
Rest and Recover
This is very important – you need to plan for at least a couple of days to rest following wisdom tooth extraction. It’s best to avoid any strenuous activity to give yourself adequate time to heal. First and foremost, you need to make sure the bleeding subsides and blood clots form so the sockets can start to heal.
If you’re up and at ‘em the same day or the day after, you could reopen wounds and increase bleeding, healing time, and risk infection. Spending a couple of days on the couch, packing your mouth with gauze and taking other precautions is the best way to ensure proper healing and minimize swelling and potential discomfort.
After any surgery, pain symptoms are to be expected. With proper treatment, you can avoid the onset of pain. Anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen will help to reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort, but depending on your threshold for pain, you may also want to take the painkillers your dentist prescribes.
Often, you can take them simultaneously or trade off to maximize benefits. Some patients find that they don’t need painkillers at all, that ibuprofen does the trick. You’ll just want to make sure you start taking it before the anesthesia completely wears off and continue taking it at regular intervals thereafter. In other words, get ahead of the pain if you want to control it.
Swelling is a normal bodily response to trauma, such as tooth removal, but you can help to control it in a variety of ways. One of the best options is using ice packs, which will not only address the swelling, but also help to numb the area if you’re experiencing some pain.
You never want to put ice directly on your skin, so wrap your ice pack in a thin towel. You can apply it for about 20 minutes at a time if it’s comfortable, and then remove it for about 20 minutes before reapplying. This could help immensely during the first couple of days after surgery.
Stick to Soft Foods
The last thing you want to do is stab your healing sockets with something hard or sticky, so it’s best to eat only soft foods in the days following removal of wisdom teeth. Cold, soft foods like ice cream, Jell-O, pudding, and yogurt can be especially soothing during the first couple of days, after which you can start adding mashed potatoes, pasta, eggs, and other soft foods that are more filling and nourishing.
You might think sipping milkshakes is a good idea, but you need to avoid using straws for at least a few days. The suction of using a straw could actually damage blood clots in the sockets, cause them to come loose, and set off bleeding again.
Cleaning can be tough for several days following oral surgery, so you’ll want to follow your dentist’s instructions to a tee. For the first few days you’ll use saltwater rinses, after which you can probably begin brushing, as long as you’re careful to avoid the sockets. Your dentist may provide you with a small syringe that you can use to gently flush the area around the sockets to remove food and bacteria until they are fully healed.
When someone in good overall health loses a tooth due to gum disease, an acute injury, or an oral infection, dental implants are fantastic and safe long-term solutions. They do not require the upkeep that dentures require and provide a patient with results that are aesthetically pleasing. Because of their high-success rate (98%), and their popularity in the world of dentistry, dental implants are becoming one of the most common procedures that those with tooth loss seek.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is the closest that a person can get to having a natural tooth. Meant to mimic the root of a tooth, a dental implant uses a screw to act as a tooth’s “root.” This screw is inserted into the jawbone (much like a tooth’s root connects to the jawbone). Then, once the bone has fused with the screw, a crown (an artificial and custom-made tooth) is applied to the implant.
Many factors contribute to whether someone is eligible for a dental implant. Overall health, for example, is crucial as smokers, excessive consumers of alcohol, those with periodontal disease, or those with diabetes usually do not respond well to dental implants.
Another cause of concern for many is bone density. In order for the dental implant to fuse with a patient’s jawbone, an adequate level of bone density is needed to ensure a successful outcome. Fortunately, there is an option for those who lack the bone density required for dental implants: bone grafting.
Bone Grafting: What Is It?
Bone grafting is a procedure that is meant for those who do not have enough bone for a dental implant. Usually, deterioration of bone occurs after a traumatic injury or when a tooth has been left to rot and decay. Bone crafts create a solid and secure base for dental implants.
Bone Grafting: The Procedure
Dental implants rarely occur in one procedure; they usually take place over a certain number of stages. First, if you have a damaged tooth that needs to be removed, it will be extracted. Then, your periodontal surgeon will prepare your jawbone for a surgical procedure. This is usually when bone grafting will take place.
In order to provide a future implant with a solid base, bone will be taken from either another part of the jaw, from another part of the body, from a cadaver, or from an animal source (if you have ethical reasons for preferring one over the other, these preferences should be discussed with your surgeon ahead of time). The latter two options have proven to be just as successful as the former two and help the patient to avoid a second surgical site.
Once the bone has been obtained, this piece of bone will then be placed into the patient’s jawbone. Then, the waiting begins. It will take several months for the new bone to grow enough to support an implant. Once the jawbone has healed and the bone has sufficiently grown, the implant will be placed into the jaw.
Again, this may require several months of healing time. After the area is fully healed, an extension of the implant is placed into the jaw; this extension is what the crown will attach to. Once the extension insertion area heals, a crown is then placed on top of the implant.
Bone Grafting: After
Bone grafts are time consuming. However, they provide those without the bone density required for an implant to receive an implant. Healing is usually accompanied by usual discomfort like gum swelling, bruising, or bleeding and patients are instructed to eat only soft foods while their mouths heal.
Because bone grafting requires an additional surgical step, it is important that you seek out a specialist that is board certified in periodontology and dental implant surgery to ensure that you experience optimal results and no complications.
If you have been told that you are not eligible for a dental implant because you lack the bone required for a successful implant, consider seeking out an oral surgeon that has experience in bone grafting. Because it is a complicated procedure, many dentists may not offer it in-house; however, this does not necessarily mean that your lack of bone density diminishes your candidacy for a dental implant.
When someone thinks of dentures, they usually think of traditional dentures that are relatively unstable. Unfortunately, when someone is told that they need dentures, the news is usually met with despair because they associate dentures with dentures of the past. Fortunately, for those who require dentures, implant-supported dentures are a fantastic denture option.
Dentures With Implant Support
Regular, traditional dentures rest on the patient’s gums; this is why they are generally seen as unstable. They have nothing holding them down. Unlike regular dentures, dentures that are supported by implants are stable because they snap into dental implants. A common misconception is that in order to receive dentures that are supported by implants, one must have some teeth in the mouth. This is not the case. If there are no teeth present, the jaw will be observed. If the jaw has enough bone to support an implant, implant-supported dentures are viable and worthwhile options for patients in need of dentures.
Typically, dentures that are supported by implants are used in the lower jaw. Regular dentures in the lower jaw are usually more unstable than dentures applied to the upper jaw. Patients can opt to also have upper-jaw dentures implant-supported; however, this is not always necessary as traditional upper jaw dentures provide more stability than they do in the lower jaw. Despite the fact that these dentures differ from traditional dentures, they still need to be treated with the same level of care, should be cleaned properly, and still needed to be taken out at night. Patients should not sleep with their dentures in their mouths.
The two kinds of implant-supported dentures available are ball-retained dentures and those that are retained by a bar. Both of these options are made with base using an acrylic material resembling the look of gums. Additionally, the teeth used in the dentures are made using either porcelain or acrylics and are designed to look like the patient’s natural teeth. Ball-retained implant-supported dentures are require two implants that are implanted into the jaw. Each implant is equipped with a ball-shaped metal attachment that fits into another attachment. These attachments are then snapped into the denture itself. Bar-retained implant-supported dentures are slightly different. They follow the natural curve of the jaw using a metal bar that is thin. Bar-retained dentures require up to five implants. Attachments like clips are added to the bar and denture. The denture is then slid over the bar and clipped into place.
The location of a patient’s implant-supported dentures ultimately depends on their location. Because the front of the mouth usually has more bone to work with, implants are usually placed in the front of the mouth. The entire process takes months to complete with 5 months being the shortest amount of time for the implants in the low jaw and 7 months for implants in the upper portion of the jaw. If bone grafting is needed for the implants, the process can take over a year. Usually, the process is broken up into two separate procedures on two separate dates. The first procedure is more surgical and involves the actual implantation inside of the jawbone of the implants. The second procedure exposes the top of the implants by breaking through the gum that has covered and healed over the implants from the first procedure. This is usually done around 5 months after the first procedure. While a patient is waiting for the process to be completed, they will be given temporary dentures in the meantime by their dentist.
Dentures that are supported by implants are more stable than traditional dentures. Those with implant-supported dentures find that they have an easier time talking and eating than they did with traditional dentures. If a patient opts for dentures with implant support in the upper jaw, an added benefit is that the dentures do not take up as much space in the upper jaw, which frees up space in the palate; again, making it easier to speak and eat. While there are benefits, caution should still be taken, and hard or sticky foods should still be avoided.
Dentures that are supported by implants are worth speaking to your dentist about. Speak with your dentist today for an even more detailed explanation of the overall process and to determine whether or not you qualify for dentures with implant support.