My Not-so-fun Wisdom Teeth Extraction
"Why are wisdom teeth called wisdom teeth?" A question I constantly asked my parents growing up and my parents would jokingly say that people grow more wisdom when the teeth start to grow. Overtime, I grew afraid of taking them out because I thought that it would mean losing the wisdom. But that's 100% not the case. Wisdom teeth are called that because they grow during our maturing ages of 17 - 21.
Disclaimer: this blog post is solely based on my experience of the wisdom teeth extraction so it may and will differ from other people's experience, however I will do my best to make this as helpful and useful for those who are wondering what it feels like and the aftercare for the surgery is like.
As my wisdom teeth were growing throughout the years, I noticed that the teeth on the left side were more impacted causing inflammation leading to a lot more pain when I ate food. It also led to more swelling of the face and gums - it was quite noticeable, even contour couldn't even out my face. I would have gotten them out sooner but I was always either working or studying abroad, or had school in Toronto throughout the years, which made it difficult to schedule an appointment in Vancouver during the short week that I did return to visit my family when I fully calculated the recovery time.
My Surgery Experience:
To be honest, I wasn't afraid of getting my wisdom teeth out, I was more afraid of not waking up. Is that weird? This was my first surgery as an adult or even as far as I remember the only surgery I've had (knock on wood because I don't want to jinx myself). The dentist gave me the option to have local or general anesthesia when I scheduled my appointment and I opted for general anesthesia, which means I would be fully sedated, because I didn't want to hear the surgery. When I asked friends about their experience, it was an even split on local or general anesthesia, so this really depends on your preference.
This is how my surgery went: I went into the clinic, signed some forms, sat in the dentist chair, got an IV needle stuck in my right arm, the dental assistant put the nose mask on my face and BAM I was knocked the f**k out. I'm not even sure which step knocked me out, the mask or the needle? The next thing I knew, I woke up and fell back asleep for god knows how long and then I woke up again and the nurse asked if I wanted to sleep some more and I didn't even answer her and passed out again.
I woke up and made my baby steps to my dad while I was trying to figure out where my tongue was. I don't really remember the duration of how I got home either but all I can remember from the first 4 hours was that I asked everyone in my family where my tongue was and I felt like I drank so much alcohol and would black out any minute.
I guess the difference between local and general anesthesia is that with local, you're fully awake so you aren't drowsy and with general you wake up like a total drunk...
Not everyone talks about what actually happens and how it actually feels when the anesthetics wear off because it is different for everyone. However, there is one thing that we all have in common - pain. I thought I would be able to handle the pain well after the anesthetics wore off because I grew up with a high pain tolerance but wow, when you're drugged up and hungry, the pain hurts differently.
My left face was swollen triple the size of my right side because I think the inflammation from the pre-surgery impact has caused an infection, which is why I have to take antibiotics to take away the infection and swelling of the lymph nodes and nerves. During Day 1 and 2, the painkillers didn't work on me because the pain was too severe, so I was just in this groggy and grumpy state. I have been living in my hoodie blanket since Day 1 (it's Day 4 now) and it honestly makes you feel so warm and cuddled.
I know that a lot of other people have two swollen cheeks instead of one and many didn't have to take antibiotics either so I think it all depends on how your teeth were situated, how the surgery process went and what your mouth orientation was like before the surgery. As of right now, I have tingly and numbness on my lower lips and jaws and this is less common than dry socket but it usually happens because your triansient nerve was injured during the surgery or from post surgery inflammation causing your lips, lower jaw, chin and teeth to be numb and it should be temporary. This has nothing to do with the surgery procedure going wrong, there are a lot of variables to why I have this numbing sensation and to be quite frank, it was probably because I delayed taking the tooth out and it became awkwardly impacted. All I've been doing these past few days was drink chicken broth, yogurt and squash soup as well as eat mashed potatoes. Whoever said this liquid diet helps you lose weight, lies. You don't lose weight, you just sleep a lot.
[Feb 10, 2021 Update]: So I texted my dentist about the persistent numbness and tingling sensation on my lower lip and chin and he said it was a transient nerve impairment and prescribed me with steroids (YAY MORE DRUGS...). Hopefully this numbness will subside and I can go back to normal sized face Janie.
I made a little care package list of tips and tricks that you can do after your surgery to help yourself to a speedy recover!
TIPS & TRICKS:
Salt water mouth rinse and gargle - salt water kills bacteria that is in your mouth. Whenever I have a sore throat or pain in my mouth, a salt water rinse and gargle does wonders! Additionally, since it is hard for us to fully brush our teeth properly during this time, using salt water can kill the bacteria from the food you've eaten.
Gauze to stop the bleeding - the dentist usually gives you gauze for you to change every 30 minutes during the first 24 hours after surgery.
Drink a lot of yogurt if you are taking antibiotics - antibiotics kill your stomach acid and yogurt is a wonderful probiotic that helps rebuild and care for your stomach (PLUS, it tastes good and is a liquid).
Liquids ONLY for the first 3 days - I don't know how my friends ate sushi or other solid foods during Day 2 or 3, but I've been consuming liquids for several days straight now and my mouth is still so sore from just opening up to eat.
Use a small spoon to eat and take baby bites - I am literally using a baby-size spoon because I can barely open my mouth to fit regular-sized spoons. This has honestly saved me from so much pain and I 100% recommend it. Do not use straws to drink your liquids! The suction can easily rupture the wound in the back where the teeth were extracted. You literally have to swallow everything.
Ice pack for the first 24 hours - this helps you to ease the swelling and stop the bleeding from the teeth wounds. It feels SO good.
Hand warmers are your best friend - I found it so useful to use the hand warmers for the swollen areas rather than microwaving the gel packs or putting hot water in the water bags because the hand warmers are dry and convenient for when you go to sleep as well.
DRINK A LOT OF WATER - the best was to rinse out bad germs and bacteria is to release it! So drink a lot of water to replenish from the medication you take.
Lip masks and lip balm are life savers - my lips and mouth were so dry these past few days from the surgery and during my sleep. Using lip masks before I go to bed and lip balm during the day has been so helpful!
Find alternative methods to intake nutrients - since we can chew meat and hard protein, make sure you are finding other sources of protein and nutrients either through supplements or blending it into your food. I drank bubble tea style protein shakes - they literally were Heytea x Wonderlab bubble tea protein shakes that my sister purchased from T&T. I'm not sure if they still have it but do check it out, it tastes really good!
Here are some things to keep in mind. Stay positive! Yeah you may look like crap now with two chubby cheeks and in excruciating pain, but it's better to get it out of your way sooner before the impact of the teeth causes further complications down the road.
Accept that you are not going to be able to do anything for the first two to three days if you are taking antibiotics and painkillers. You can't exercise, you can't jump or shake your head and you are going to be in a drowsy state. Don't put pressure on yourself and force yourself to be productive because as much as you want to be and think that you can handle the pain well, chances are you won't be and it is completely okay because you literally just had surgery! Don't force yourself to be productive because it might slow down your healing process. Moreover, liquid diets are not fun and you don't lose weight (I don't know why people keep saying that you do). I'm pretty sure I gained weight from doing nothing and drinking liquids during these past few days. Lastly, you just have to deal with the pain yourself because other people can't share that pain with you. But stay strong, stay hydrated and once you lay off the painkillers you can be productive again!
Hope my advice helps! Like I said, this is just my experience and unfortunately I had a lot more complications than majority of my friends and that is entirely due to my facial orientation and the impact of my teeth so do not let this blog scare you. There is an ultimate upside to all of this and that is ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream. With that said, happy recovery if you're getting your wisdom teeth extraction soon!