All surgery carries with it a certain amount of risk.
Removal of your impacted wisdom teeth is considered a minor surgical procedure, and is very safe when performed properly. The most common risks associated with removal of impacted wisdom teeth are:
- Bleeding – after surgery you can expect a small amount of bleeding. Gentle pressure with gauze packing for 1 to 2 hours after the surgery is usually adequate to stop bleeding.
- Swelling – a certain amount of swelling should be expected after any kind of surgery. Usually, a small amount of swelling of the cheeks should be expected. The swelling is usually most significant at 24 to 36 hours after the surgery, then slowly resolves. Medication can be given at the time of surgery and after surgery to reduce swelling. Also, post operative instructions such as ice to your face and keeping your head elevated help reduce swelling.
- Infection – a small risk of infection should be considered a risk. An antibiotic is commonly prescribed for you post operatively if you have had impacted teeth removed. Also, maintaining a soft diet and adequate oral hygiene, including frequent salt water rinses, is important to reduce the risk of infection.
- Pain – following your surgery, a moderate amount of pain is expected. Patients are provided with a prescription for pain medication at their surgery or consultation appointment. Other non-prescription medications can be taken if desired. Dr. Pitts usually recommends ibuprofen (Advil) as a supplement to, or substitute for, prescription medications.
- Sinus Involvement – the roots of your upper wisdom teeth can sometimes extend into the floor of the sinus. During surgery, this can provide some risk for bleeding into the sinus, or a small perforation in the floor of the sinus. Only in rare instances, would this lead to any need for additional treatment, such as surgical repair of the floor of the sinus.
- Nerve Damage – the roots of the lower wisdom teeth are sometimes very close to a large nerve in the lower jaw. This nerve supplies sensation (feeling) to the gums, teeth, lower lip, and chin. If this nerve is pinched or bruised during removal of the lower wisdom teeth, it can result in sensory changes in the lower lip, chin, gums, or teeth, such as numbness or tingling sensations. It may also cause some increased pain, or referred pain (a pain that radiates from the area of surgery to adjacent areas of the face or jaw). These are uncommon complications of surgery, and usually any sensory changes completely resolve within a few weeks. Sensory changes can be permanent, however, and should be considered only a rare complication of surgery.
- Bone Damage/Soft Tissue Damage/Damage to Adjacent Teeth – removal of impacted wisdom teeth almost always involves some bone removal and soft tissue surgery. Normal healing processes most frequently repair the surgical area within a few weeks. Damage to teeth adjacent to the surgical site should be considered, but is a very unusual occurrence with modern surgical techniques and equipment.
- Dry Socket – is an uncommon complication following wisdom tooth surgery, especially if medications are taken properly and instructions are followed. However, a dry socket can occur, and would lead to slower healing and persistent pain. Sometimes palliative treatment is necessary to encourage healing.