Wisdom Teeth Removal: What to Expect

wisdom teeth removal - dentist showing x ray to patient

Wisdom Teeth Removal: What to Expect

Extracting impacted wisdom teeth is necessary to prevent painful complications. Most people need a wisdom tooth extraction at some point—it’s a very common procedure, and nothing to worry about. Becoming familiar with the process can help you feel more comfortable with an upcoming procedure. The team at Prescott Dentistry put together this guide on what to expect from wisdom teeth removal, so you can feel more at ease. 

What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

The third molars, or “wisdom teeth” start to appear in early adulthood. They typically begin to emerge between the ages of 17 and 21. However, wisdom teeth don’t always erupt normally like other teeth. If there’s not enough room in your mouth, they can become impacted and grow sideways or get stuck in your jaw without fully breaking through your gums. 

Impacted wisdom teeth can damage and crowd your other teeth, making them shift. Wisdom teeth are also highly vulnerable to tooth decay, because it’s difficult to reach them and clean them. Extracting wisdom teeth protects the rest of your mouth from the painful consequences of impacted teeth. 

How Do You Know When Wisdom Teeth Removal Is Necessary?

One reason regular dental checkups are so important is that your dental x-rays show the position of your wisdom teeth. From your x-rays, your dentist can determine whether your wisdom teeth are already impacted, or if they appear to be growing in a way that will cause them to become impacted. In these cases, your dentist will likely recommend a wisdom tooth extraction.

There are plenty of other ways your body will tell you that there’s a problem with your wisdom teeth. Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth include:

  • Pain in your jaw bone
  • Overcrowding, or shifts in tooth placement
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing food
  • Frequent sinus pain, pressure, or congestion

If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist to find out whether they indicate impacted wisdom teeth or another dental issue. 

What to Expect from the Wisdom Teeth Removal Process


Your oral surgeon will let you know ahead of time the steps you need to take before the day of your extraction surgery. For instance, if your surgery requires general anesthesia, you will need to avoid eating or drinking anything for 12 hours before your appointment time. 

Other ways you can prepare for your surgery include:

  • Asking someone to drive you home from the appointment
  • Stocking your fridge with plenty of soft foods to eat after your wisdom teeth removal
  • Picking up any prescription pain medications ahead of time
  • Setting up a comfortable place to rest at home


A wisdom teeth removal surgery typically only takes about an hour and a half. However, if you need general anesthesia, it could take you a little longer because you’ll need extra time to wake up after the surgery. 

Make sure to ask your oral surgeon whether you will be receiving local or general anesthesia, and how long they think the procedure will take, so you know what to expect. With local anesthesia, you will be awake but feel no pain during the procedure. With general anesthesia, you won’t feel any pain either, but you will not be awake during the process. 

During surgery, your oral surgeon will make a small incision in your gums to extract each wisdom tooth. One common method for removing an impacted wisdom tooth is breaking it up and removing it piece by piece. If you have any questions about the surgery, don’t be afraid to ask before the procedure begins. 


Although you won’t feel pain during the surgery, you can expect your mouth to feel sore for about a week afterward. There are a few important rules to follow during recovery to ensure speedy healing and to prevent dry socket and infections. 

Dry socket is a painful condition where the blood clot formed in the empty tooth socket falls out or fails to develop. The blood clot is necessary to protect the bone and nerves that would be otherwise exposed. 

To prevent dry socket and other complications during recovery, you must:

  • Avoid strenuous exercise
  • Stick to soft, room temperature foods for the first couple of days
  • Avoid drinking through a straw—sucking actions could dislodge the blood clot
  • Rinse with salt water to keep your wound clean, but do not spit or rinse; to avoid dislodging the blood clot, lean over the sink and let the water fall out of your mouth
  • Avoid smoking, which slows recovery and can also cause dry socket

Wisdom Teeth Removal in Prescott, Arizona

Never ignore a toothache! Tooth pain can be a sign of serious dental problems like impacted wisdom teeth. The team at Prescott Dentistry can examine your mouth and check your dental x-rays for signs of impacted wisdom teeth and other dental issues. If an extraction is necessary, our doctors can remove wisdom teeth with a minimally invasive procedure. Call us at 928-445-1660 to schedule an appointment today. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (9/2/2022). Photo by Cedric Fauntleroy on Pexels