How to Prepare for Wisdom Teeth Surgery

Alleviate any worries about your upcoming procedure

October 26, 2023
Procedures

If you recently received the news that you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, you might be a little nervous. Just know that you’re not alone -- having your wisdom teeth removed is something almost everyone experiences during their life! This article is designed to help you feel less worried about your upcoming surgery, so here’s a preview of what we’ll cover:

  • Why Do We Even Have Wisdom Teeth?
  • Why Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
  • To Do: Before the Surgery
  • To Do: the Day of the Surgery

Why Do We Even Have Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that develop between the ages of 17 and 25. Back in the prehistoric era, these teeth helped humans chew foods, like raw meat and plants. Also, losing teeth was a common problem, so this set of molars was a way to make sure humans still had enough teeth. However, now that humans have evolved, we don’t have a need for these teeth.

While the majority of the population have (or have had) their wisdom teeth, there are some people -- about 35% -- who do not. Those lucky people will never have to worry about getting their wisdom teeth removed, but the rest of us do.

Why Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Often, people who need their wisdom teeth removed don’t have any symptoms, so you may be wondering why you even need surgery. The short answer is that if they are not removed, they can cause problems, such as:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Infection
  • Damage
  • Crowding

Plus, if your wisdom teeth are impacted, which means they are not able to break through the gums, they can damage other teeth.

This x-ray shows four impacted wisdom teeth, one at each corner of the mouth. They are circled in orange to highlight them.
Circled in orange in this x-ray are someone’s four impacted wisdom teeth. Image courtesy of Westside Orthodontics.

Complications down the road are also a risk of not having your wisdom teeth removed. If you don’t have your wisdom teeth removed before the roots develop fully, it’s much harder to extract them than only the molars. Having your wisdom teeth removed at a later age makes for a longer recovery. Also, if they don’t erupt and are not removed, there is a 25% chance that the lining around the tooth will become cancerous.

To Do: Before the Surgery

Ask Questions

You might have a lot of questions, and don’t hesitate to ask them! Chances are your dentist has already been asked these same questions by previous patients.

Three little figures -- one blue, one yellow, and one red -- each hold a wooden letter, F, A, and Q, respectively.
Asking questions about the surgery can help ease your nerves.

Here are some common questions people like to ask:

  • How many of my wisdom teeth are being removed?
  • How long will the surgery take?
  • Will the surgery hurt?
  • What should I do after my wisdom teeth are removed?

Prepare a Recovery Area

Before you leave for your surgery, do yourself a favor and set up a recovery area.

For example, put a few blankets and pillows on the couch in your living room. Move a table close by that has tissues, water, and anything else you think you may need. Gathering chargers for electronic devices and remotes for the television might also be a good idea. This way, when you come home, you can just sit down and relax.

Make or Buy Food

When you eventually feel hungry after your surgery, you’re not going to have the energy to cook. So, making food in advance is a way that you can combat this.

Foods like soup, ice cream, and applesauce are great options. If you opt for soup, though, know that you have to eat it at a lukewarm temperature.

Two bowls of tomato soup, garnished with parsley, are shown here.
You’ll thank yourself later if you make some soup a day or two before your surgery; that way, you can just heat it up and eat it.

To Do: the Day of the Surgery

When the day of your surgery arrives, there are a couple of things you want to do to ensure your surgery goes as smoothly as possible.

Brush Before You Go

Before you leave your house, give your teeth a good brushing and flossing. Performing those activities are difficult after surgery, so doing them before the procedure is a good idea.

Don’t Go Alone

Make sure a family member or a friend is able to drive you down to the surgical center. You will be given anesthesia before the surgery so you aren’t aware of anything, and once you wake up, the effects of the anesthesia will still be with you. Driving in that condition is unsafe to you and others, so having someone drive you means everyone gets home safe.



By now, you should have a good idea of what to do in order to prepare for wisdom teeth surgery. If you want to know about what happens after the surgery, you can read about it here. If you have any other questions about how you can prepare for wisdom teeth surgery, contact the oral and maxillofacial surgery specialists at Elizabeth Wakim DDS.

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