A slightly less glamorous post than I usually aspire to write, but a useful one I hope. I recently had two wisdom teeth removed and did endless googling to try and see what was in store for me, so I thought I’d write a little about what I experienced. Hopefully there’ll be some tips and tricks in here to put your mind at ease (the whole thing is nowhere near as bad as you think).
I was referred by my dentist in July 2015 to have my two lower wisdom teeth removed, both of which were partially erupted and causing me issue after issue. The referral process took a very long time, so much so that I was sure the letter had been lost in the post, but I eventually went for my first consultation at hospital at the beginning of October and had the surgery on 12th November. During the first consultation I was advised that due to the positioning of the teeth, it would be better to have general anaesthetic rather than local.
I was due to arrive at the Day Surgery Unit at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford at 12.30. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything after 7.30am and couldn’t drink anything after 11am. Everything was explained in detail in the paperwork I received after I booked the surgery date.
I arrived just after 12 and took a seat in the waiting area. At around 12.45 I was called through to the ward with 4 or 5 other people. There I had my own bed with a little table/wardrobe unit and a chair.
After around half an hour the nurse came over to run through my details, take my blood pressure, give me a wristband with my name and date of birth on it, and collect my signature. This was the first of many visits from the nurse and other doctors/surgeons who introduced themselves so that I would recognise them post-op. Many times I was asked to confirm my name, birthday and asked to confirm that I was fully aware of exactly what would be happening during surgery.
It was a long old afternoon! I was 5th on the surgery list, which only had 6 people on it. At around 3pm I was given some pain killers and a tiny bit of water with them, which is apparently normal procedure pre surgery, and I was really grateful for even the tiniest bit of water after many hours without it. The nurse also said I should change into the very attractive gown at this point as I would be going soon.
It was over an hour, after 4pm, until I was taken through to have the general anaesthetic administered. The cannula was put into my hand, an oxygen mask was put over my face, and that is all I remember.
I hadn’t ever had general anaesthetic before, and I woke up in recovery before 5.30 with a big jolt and a gasp, which I wasn’t expecting! The two nurses said I was fine and told me I was in recovery. I felt ok in general, although the side of my mouth was sore from having been cut slightly by having had tubes inserted into my mouth during surgery. My throat was also really sore from the tubes. My lower face and lips were completely numb from having also had local anaesthetic administered there, too.
After a little while I was taken back to the ward where I was given a jug of water (finally!) and rested until my mum arrived to take me home. I had to stay on the ward for at least an hour, as all patients do, to make sure I didn’t have any adverse reactions to anything. During this time one of the surgeons came to see me to tell me that everything had gone well during the procedure, but that one of my teeth had been very tricky to extract, which explains why that side of my mouth has been much more painful and slower to heal than the other.
We eventually arrived back home at around 8pm. After a few hours I felt a very strange mixture of hungry, thirsty and incredibly sick. This nausea continued for around 24 hours, as it often does after general anaesthetic.
The swelling of my face didn’t really get all that bad until the second day after surgery. It was pretty sore but thankfully there was no bruising. The best thing for me to do was to take the pain medication I was given, lie down and have an ice pack on each cheek.
The worst of the pain was probably my throat. It felt like the beginning of tonsillitis, and I was really hoping that it was nothing more serious than just an irritated throat. Thankfully it went away within a few days, but it was pretty grim, especially first thing in the morning, and it was something I wasn’t expecting to be quite that bad.
(These are all things I was told before or discovered during the day)
- Have a shower on the morning of the procedure. The last thing you’ll want to do when you get home afterwards is have a shower, so feeling as fresh as possible before is ideal.
- Do not wear any makeup (they’ll just tell you to remove it if you do).
- Don’t wear any nail polish (same thing again, you’ll just have to remove it).
- If you’re a contact lens wearer, wear glasses on surgery day instead. You won’t be allowed to wear lenses during the surgery, so it’s easiest just to arrive at hospital wearing your glasses. One of the nurses looking after me took my glasses from me as I was having the anaesthetic administered and gave them to me when I woke up in recovery.
- Wear comfy clothes. It’s all about feeling at ease.
- Take a good book or something to distract you. I waited for the best part of 4 hours before surgery and would have been incredibly bored without my book. I was really hungry and thirsty as well so it helped to have something to take my mind off it.
- If you’re not much of a reader, make sure to take an iPad/tablet if you have one, and some headphones.
- Bring your charger.
- If the hospital offers you a sick note for work, take it. My recovery took longer than anticipated so it was great that I had the official sick note. You don’t have to use it, but recovery is unpredictable so it’s a good thing to have just in case.
- Double check the side effects of the pain relief they give you. I was given Codeine but found that it made me really dizzy and nauseous, which I only found out was due to the Codeine after I checked its effects.
- Ice packs are amazing. Make sure you have a few so you can have them on rotation.
- Some little bits of gauze or a cotton handkerchief are useful for stopping excess bleeding after surgery.
- If the side of your mouth tears from the tubes, just as mine did, then I would recommend something like Vaseline just to keep the area hydrated and to stop it from drying and cracking, as it’s very painful.
- Make sure you have someone around who can drive you home from hospital. You cannot drive for at least 24 hours after the operation.
Other medical tips (it goes without saying that I’m not a healthcare professional, but these were some bits of advice which I was given)
- Don’t swallow anything through a straw as it puts too much pressure on the back teeth.
- Don’t eat or drink anything too hot or too cold for the first few days. Say hello to lukewarm tea!
- No spitting or swilling.
- I wasn’t allowed to brush my teeth for 24 hours after surgery. Resist the urge.
- After 24 hours rinse your mouth with a mixture of warm water and salt.
- Buy an anti-bacterial mouthwash to use. I bought a Colgate one which seems to have done the trick.
Now all you need to do is snuggle up and take it easy 🙂
Good luck and get well soon!
This is, of course, a subjective account of a surgical procedure which is unique to every individual patient. All information here is designed to be helpful rather than medically imperative. Any questions or worries should be taken to your dentist or surgeon.