If you’ve been told that your wisdom teeth need to be removed, your dental professional has likely already explained that wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical procedure and referred you to an oral surgeon. While the thought of having oral surgery may be a bit intimidating, wisdom teeth removal is a very common procedure, since these teeth are problematic for most people and a fairly routine one for most patients. However, patients who have been told that they need oral surgery often have questions, and among the most common are questions about pain after wisdom tooth extraction and what type of pain medication they will need to relieve it.
The amount of pain after wisdom teeth removal depends on a variety of factors, such as how many wisdom teeth will be extracted, whether or not they are impacted and your personal level of pain tolerance. That said, there are some general guidelines on what the average patient can expect in terms of pain and discomfort after wisdom tooth extraction and the type of pain medication that is typically used in controlling that pain.
Since your Indianapolis oral surgeon will use a local anesthetic and, in most cases, IV sedation to ensure your comfort during your procedure, chance are that you will experience little, if any, pain during surgery. Typically, pain isn’t an issue until the effects of anesthesia have begun to wear off, generally within two or three hours. Patients are generally advised to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), usually ibuprofen (Motrin) or Naprosyn (Aleve), to control swelling and pain after surgery, which are available in both prescription and over-the-counter forms. In most cases, stronger pain medication is prescribed as well, such as Vicodin, Percocet or codeine. Many patients do not feel the need to use those stronger medications, finding that pain is well-controlled with NSAIDS, and among patients who do use prescription painkillers, most only find them necessary during the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery.
Pain and swelling generally begin to subside within 48 to 72 hours. Patients who do not see an improvement in levels of pain and/or swelling during the first few days after surgery should call their oral surgeon’s office since persistent pain can be a sign of infection or other complications. Patients who experience worsening pain a few days after surgery may be suffering from dry socket – a complication in which the blood clot meant to protect the socket during healing has become dislodged. While dry socket is a painful condition, it is easily remedied with treatment, so be sure to report any increases in pain to your oral surgeon.
For the average patient, wisdom tooth extraction is a very routine procedure. Pain following the procedure, in most case, ranges from mild to moderate and improves within 3 to 5 days. Most people who have the procedure – especially younger patients, who may be concerned about sports and wisdom teeth removal – are back to normal within a week or two. Fact is, as long as you follow your oral surgeon’s after care instructions carefully, wisdom teeth removal isn’t likely to be a particularly painful or traumatic experience, so don’t let the term “oral surgery” intimidate you.