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Can You Wear Retainers After Wisdom Teeth Removal

by Annabel Caldwell
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Can You Wear Retainers After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Can You Wear Retainers After Wisdom Teeth Removal

If you wear retainers, they may be worn after surgery when it is comfortable for you. We recommend leaving them out at least the first few days after surgery.

Wisdom teeth are often called “third molars,” but these teeth aren’t really a third of your mouth — in fact, wisdom teeth make up just 1 percent of the total number of teeth in most people’s mouths. They’re also the last set of permanent teeth to come in and usually don’t appear until late teens or early 20s. These teeth need room to grow, so their roots can push through the gums and into the jaw bone (called “impacted” or “fused”). This means that before removing all four wisdom teeth, removal of two wisdom teeth will sometimes be necessary to free enough space for the remaining two to emerge fully from the gum line.
Removal of impacted wisdom teeth can be done with general anesthesia or as an outpatient procedure using local anesthesia only. An oral surgeon makes an incision inside the mouth along the side of the upper front tooth right next to the lower left second molar. The surgeon then cuts away the part of the bone above the wisdom teeth to expose the root tips of the wisdom teeth. He then uses small surgical tools to cut away parts of the tissue around the roots of the wisdom teeth. Next, he drills holes in the bone under the wisdom teeth to allow the roots to drop down below the gumline and remove the teeth themselves. Once the teeth have been removed, the surgeon cleans the area thoroughly and stitches it back together. During recovery, patients should avoid anything crunchy, hot or spicy; this includes things like chips, nuts, popcorn kernels, etc., as well as alcohol-containing beverages such as beer and wine.
After all the blood has been cleaned away by the body, the socket where the wisdom teeth once were becomes soft and fragile. That’s why dentists recommend wearing retainers during that time to keep the newly exposed hole open. It’s important not to bite down on anything hard while wearing a retainer, because the retainer could break and cause damage to the wound site. If possible, you’ll want to leave your retainer in place for several days following wisdom teeth extraction. Most experts agree that if you want to wear your retainer longer than three days, it shouldn’t hurt your healing process. However, some people choose to get rid of their retainer sooner than others do. For those who would rather not put any foreign object inside their mouth, there’s no problem staying retainer-free. But if you decide to go without one, here’s how to take care of yourself post wisdom teeth extractions:
The day after surgery, you’ll probably notice that your lip appears redder than usual. Lipstick might look too obvious, so instead try applying a balm with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) underneath your lipstick. Remember, you shouldn’t eat anything solid for six hours after surgery. There’s nothing worse than having food spill over the lips when you’re eating! Also, avoid taking any pain medication prescribed by your dentist for 24 hours after the procedure, because these medications can thin the blood and increase bleeding.
For the first week, refrain from brushing your teeth for at least 48 hours. Brushing can irritate the socket, causing more swelling and discomfort. On top of that, bacteria from your mouth can actually enter the wound and cause infection. To prevent this, rinse your mouth with salt water (or swish with it) after every meal for at least 12 hours. Rinse again with warm salty water before going to bed.
You’ll also want to use cotton floss to clean between your teeth and around the area where your wisdom teeth used to be, especially if you didn’t wear a retainer. You may even consider asking someone else to help you with this since it’s difficult work. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to combat infection. And finally, you’ll need to remember to ask your doctor about any pain you experience in the coming weeks.
If you’d prefer not to wear a retainer, here are some other options:
A splint: A splint made of gauze or tape can be placed over the socket to hold everything in place. Some people find that placing something cold against the socket helps reduce swelling.

Denture plate: A dental plate may be used to fill in the gap caused by missing wisdom teeth. It’s held in place by wires that attach to the adjacent natural teeth.

Temporary crowns: Temporary crowns can cover the empty sockets created by the removal of wisdom teeth. These temporary crowns are meant to protect the wounds and provide support until the implants can be inserted.

Implants: Implants can later be permanently attached to the jawbone to act as artificial wisdom teeth. However, this option is expensive and takes months to complete.

It’s not uncommon for your gums to bleed heavily after wisdom teeth extraction. Don’t worry, though — this is normal and doesn’t mean you did a poor job. Bleeding can happen due to a combination of factors including:
Poor blood clotting

Thin layers of gum tissue surrounding the socket

Excess pressure being applied to the socket

Your gums naturally bleed to clear away debris and start new healthy cells. The amount of bleeding depends on the individual and the type of extraction technique used. In addition, any bleeding you see within the first 24 hours post-surgery should be considered serious and requires medical attention. So if you’ve got any concerns about excessive bleeding, call your health provider immediately.
While it’s true that wearing a retainer can lead to dry socket, the risk isn’t very high. Dry socket happens when the blood supply to the bone doesn’t properly heal. About 2 percent of patients develop dry socket, which causes severe pain and eventually leads to loss of the affected tooth. Since dry socket can be painful, it’s important to seek treatment immediately if you think you might have had it. Treatment involves cleaning the damaged area thoroughly and replacing it with a graft, which is essentially a piece of skin, fat or muscle taken from another part of your body. Because the healing process can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months, it’s best to consult a dentist as soon as possible if you’ve had a dry socket.
Tooth decay is the leading chronic disease of children worldwide. While cavities are treatable, many people wait years before seeking professional care. Why? Lack of access to affordable care and ineffective communication among families contribute significantly to the spread of untreated childhood caries. Learn what you can do to fight tooth decay now.

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