Wisdom teeth, the third set of molars that usually come in between ages 17 and 25, can cause a variety of dental problems.1

If your wisdom teeth need to come out, here’s some information on what to expect before, during and after the surgery.

Before wisdom teeth removal

There are 2 occasions to prepare for before surgery—your consultation and the day before surgery.

Consultation with dentist or oral surgeon2

  • Discuss any health problems you may have
  • List any drugs you take regularly
  • Talk about the types of anesthesia that are available
  • Ask any questions you have about the surgery

Day before surgery3

  • Plan time off from work or school
  • Set up child care, pet care or a ride home (if needed)
  • Follow all instructions provided by your oral surgeon

During wisdom teeth removal

2 important factors during surgery are the type of anesthesia used and the extraction procedure.

Types of anesthesia4

  • Local anesthesia—Injections are administered in the gums near the teeth getting pulled. You’ll be awake during the surgery but should only feel pressure and movement.
  • Sedation anesthesia—An intravenous line (IV) is placed in your arm. Your consciousness will be suppressed, you won’t feel pain and should have limited memory of the surgery.
  • General anesthesia—An IV can be given, or you can inhale medication through your nose, or both. You will lose consciousness, feel no pain and have no memory of the surgery.

Extraction procedure5

  1. An incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the tooth and bone.
  2. Bone that blocks access to the tooth root is removed.
  3. If the tooth is impacted, it may be broken into sections to remove in pieces.
  4. The tooth (or pieces) are removed.
  5. The site of the removed tooth is cleaned of any debris.
  6. If necessary, the wound is stitched closed to promote healing.
  7. Gauze is placed over the wound to control bleeding and to help a blood clot form.

After wisdom teeth removal

People respond differently to anesthesia. You may feel alert and able to drive yourself home or back to work. Or, you could feel drowsy and need someone to drive you home so you can rest.6

As for pain, most people have little to no pain after surgery. Some swelling may occur for a few days, but your mouth can completely heal in a few weeks.7

Here are some DOs and DON’Ts for the first 3 days after wisdom teeth removal:8

Do:

  • Eat soft foods like yogurt, apple sauce, and ice cream for the first 24–48 hours9
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Brush your teeth starting the second day (avoid blood clots)
  • Take the drugs prescribed by your doctor
  • Call your doctor if you have a fever, or if your pain or swelling doesn’t improve

Don’t:

  • Use a straw
  • Rinse your mouth too hard
  • Eat hard or sticky foods
  • Smoke cigarettes

Humana can help with wisdom teeth removal

If you need to get your wisdom teeth pulled, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana Insurance Company dental insurance page.

Sources

  1. “Wisdom Teeth Removal: What Adults Should Expect,” WebMD, last accessed October 1, 2020, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/wisdom-teeth-adult#1, opens new window.
  2. “Wisdom Teeth Removal: What Adults Should Expect.”
  3. “Wisdom Teeth Removal: What Adults Should Expect.”
  4. “Wisdom Teeth Extraction,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed October 1, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/wisdom-tooth-extraction/about/pac-20395268, opens new window.
  5. “Wisdom Teeth Removal: What Adults Should Expect.”
  6. “Wisdom Teeth Removal: What Adults Should Expect.”
  7. “Wisdom Teeth Removal: What Adults Should Expect.”
  8. “Wisdom Teeth Removal: What Adults Should Expect.”
  9. “What to Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal,” Healthline, last accessed October 2, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/what-to-eat-after-wisdom-teeth-removal, opens new window.