Many individual's 3rd largest fear—only being topped by public speaking and death—is going to the dentist. Whether this phobia stems from fear of painful procedures, finding out the consequences of years of neglect, or that dreaded dentist bill; the result is the same: avoiding the dentist at all costs. It is not until excruciating mouth pain overrides these unreasonable fears that many finally give in and go to the dentist. The most common of these complaints includes needing to have unruly wisdom teeth extracted. Wisdom teeth are the back molars that typically start to come in around the age of 18. However, many people's mouths are too small to accommodate them correctly. This overcrowding can cause wisdom teeth to come in at strange angles or not be able to completely erupt. This can lead to not being able to chew properly, an inability to close your mouth correctly, or excessive pain that can no longer be ignored. So what can you do to alleviate your fears and make your experience a good one when it becomes absolutely necessary to visit the dentist?
Reducing Your Pre-Operative Anxiety
The first--and usually the hardest--step is actually dragging yourself to the dentist. Most people spend a great deal of time worrying about what is going to happen, and when they finally go to the dentist they are relieved to find that they have been worrying for no reason. The best thing you can do is discuss your concerns with your dentist; most fears come from lack of knowledge. Your dentist can explain the procedure and any possible side effects you may expect. He may also have suggestions to help relieve your specific concerns. If you are still feeling anxious, many dentists can give you medication before the procedure to help you relax.
Tips to Minimize Side Effects
During the removal of your wisdom teeth, you will need some type of anesthesia. Most oral surgeons prefer to use a general anesthetic. It is important to let your surgeon know if you have had any allergic reactions to anesthesia in the past. If you are sensitive to medication, you may want to ask your dentist to prescribe anti-nausea medication in advance so you will have it in case the mixture of anesthetics and pain medication upsets your stomach.
The two most common post-operative complaints include swelling and minor pain. Some bruising and swelling is completely normal and may be more profound in difficult cases. Each case is unique, and some teeth may be more impacted or more difficult to remove. In order to decrease the amount of swelling, it is important to use an ice pack for the first few days until the swelling starts to subside. Taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen will also help diminish inflammation, swelling, and pain. Reducing the amount of swelling will also help with pain management. It is important to take your pain medication as prescribed for the first few days without skipping a dose. The best way to combat pain is by taking your pain medication on time; it is easier to control pain before it becomes too intense. You can always reduce the amount of pain medication you take as the pain diminishes in a few days.
A small amount of bleeding is completely normal. However, if it becomes excessive you will want to call the dentist. You can control bleeding by placing a tea bag at the surgical site. It sounds odd, but works very well. The tannic acid found in black tea assists with blood clotting, helping to stop the bleeding. Taking anti-nausea medication to reduce the chance of anesthetic-induced vomiting will also help minimize the risk of bleeding.
While wisdom tooth extraction is a very minor surgery, the most important thing is to be properly prepared. Make sure that you have lots of soft food at home. Some great things to keep stocked include soups, jello, yogurt, pudding, and nutritional supplement drinks. It is also a good idea to have someone stay with you for the first night after your surgery. Taking a few steps to be ready prior to your procedure will help minimize your anxiety and help speed along your recovery, making your visit to the dentist like Dr. Peter L Drob a painless one.