How painful is wisdom tooth removal?

Wisdom tooth extraction is one of the world’s most common dental procedures. We do them all the time here at Swansea Dental Practice. However, the procedure can cause some anxiety among patients — everyone seems to have a story about their wisdom teeth removal surgery from swollen cheeks to funny behaviour after anaesthesia. 

If you’ve been told that you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, we understand your nervousness. Naturally, your first concern is pain — how painful is wisdom tooth removal? 

It’s a common question we get from patients and in this article, we share what to expect from wisdom tooth removal — from pain relief and rest to how long it takes to heal. 

Why do I need my wisdom teeth removed? 


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A lot of patients feel a bit anxious or scared when they find out their wisdom teeth need to be removed — which is why the first question patients ask is  “why do I need them out?”

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that the human jaw often can’t accommodate — they often come in between the ages of 17 and 25. When wisdom teeth start to appear, they can push the other teeth out of position and cause crowding or “crooked” teeth. It can also be quite painful. 

Most people have them removed because: 

  1. They’re impacted — wisdom teeth are so far back in your mouth, they sometimes don’t come in normally. They can get trapped in your jawbone or gums

  2. They’ve come in at the wrong angle — they might be pressing against your other teeth and causing pain

  3. There are cavities in the tooth, or you have gum disease — you might not be able to reach your wisdom teeth with a toothbrush or dental floss.

When this happens, wisdom teeth can cause serious problems like pain and infection. We will recommend booking in for a wisdom tooth extraction. 

How painful is wisdom tooth removal?


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The good news is that wisdom tooth removal doesn’t hurt at all! Your dentist will either numb your mouth with a local anesthetic or sedate you — this is recommended if you are particularly nervous about the procedure. It will seem like the procedure is over in a few short minutes and once the gas is turned off, it is eliminated from the body. 

You will technically be conscious, but totally unaware of what’s going on. This form of sedation is commonly known as “happy gas”. 

If the extraction is more complex (like if the teeth are impacted and require more work), we might recommend general anaesthesia at your local hospital. In this case, you would be completely unconscious and unaware of what’s going on — and you will need someone to drive you home after the procedure!

Our dentists are certified to operate at Hunter Valley Private Hospital where we use the services of the Hunter’s largest Medical Specialist Anaesthetists’ group for optimum safety. 

Talk to our dentists about general anaesthesia for your extraction today.

Will I need stitches?

dentist doing surgery

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After your wisdom tooth (or teeth) have been removed, your dentist might have to stitch the wound shut so they heal quickly. Usually, a dentist will do this if they have had to cut the gum or bone to remove the teeth. 

These stitches are dissolvable and will normally disappear after a few days.

In most cases, your dentist will also put gauze pads in your mouth to soak up the blood. You can take these out after half an hour or once you get home — do not put the gauze back in your mouth if not actively bleeding. This can put stress on the wound and hinder the healing process. 

How long does pain after wisdom tooth extraction last?

woman resting

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After a wisdom tooth extraction, it’s normal to feel a bit of pain and discomfort. An extraction is a surgical procedure — the gum tissue and bone in your jaw will be affected, so at the very least the area is bound to be tender. How much discomfort you experience comes down to how complex the extraction process was. 

In the first 24 hours after the extraction, you will feel some slight discomfort caused by gum tissue and bone damage. The good news is that the pain is superficial, meaning it decreases over time through healing. 

The pain from a wisdom tooth extraction often peaks at six hours after the procedure. You might also see some bruising and/or swelling — this can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication like Ibuprofen and ice packs to bring out the bruising and/or swelling. 

If the extraction was more complex, your dentist or surgeon might prescribe some stronger pain medication to help with the healing process. 

Most people recover from a wisdom tooth extraction within three or four days. If you experience excessive pain from the extraction site or have pain for more than 10 days, we recommend calling your dentist or surgeon immediately. It could be a sign of further complications. 

The dos and don’ts of aftercare 


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After a wisdom tooth extraction, it’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions for a faster recovery. Here are some quick tips for the first three or four days: 

  • Use an ice pack on your face to reduce swelling and bruising

  • If your jaw is very sore, use a warm, moist compress

  • Gently open and close your mouth to exercise your jaw

  • Eat soft foods like soup, pasta, rice, ice cream and jelly

  • Take pain medication like Ibuprofen — or the medication the dentist prescribed

  • Brush your teeth on the second day and avoid brushing blood clots

  • Drink lots of water.

There are a few things you should also avoid: 

  • Don’t rinse your mouth too harshly — if you need to rinse, do it gently with saltwater

  • Don’t drink through a straw — sucking can loosen the blood clots that help with healing

  • Don’t eat hard, crunchy or sticky foods that scratch your wounds

  • Don’t smoke — this can slow down the healing process.

So, is wisdom tooth removal painful? Ask our dentists about the procedure and pain management plans! 

At Swansea Dental Practice, there’s no need to be nervous about wisdom tooth removal — we’ve seen hundreds of patients for the procedure. You’re in good hands with our experienced dental team. 

If you have some reservations about wisdom tooth removal, get in touch with our team on (02) 4971 1432 today — we’ll provide all the information and reassurance you need for a stress-free wisdom tooth removal procedure. 

Feature Image: Pexels

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How painful is wisdom tooth removal?


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