Are you wondering how to get through an upcoming wisdom tooth surgery? Looking for ways to avoid post-surgery complications? Are you questioning the need for the extraction?
We’ve had several wisdom tooth surgeries in recent years. Now that we follow a more natural approach to healthcare, we have done our best to minimize our use of prescribed pain relievers and avoid post-surgery complications.
One of our daughters even had cavitation surgery* to remove diseased areas that had resulted from wisdom tooth removal a decade ago. (For more on cavitations, see the Weston A. Price article Dental Cavitation Surgery.)
* In hindsight, I might take a more conservative approach with cavitation surgery and try to heal the diseased areas nutritionally and with other gentler approaches. But overall, the cavitation surgery went smoothly.
1. Is this necessary?
Dentists and oral surgeons often advise taking wisdom teeth as a preventative strategy. While it can be difficult to question their advice, I respect the conservative approach offered by nutrition consultant Dr. Lawrence Wilson. According to his article on biological dentistry:
Good teeth should be left alone unless there is an important reason for removing them. Reasons to leave wisdom teeth alone if they are not causing severe problems in the mouth are:
You never know if you will need them later. For example, other molars may decay and the wisdom teeth may be needed for chewing or attaching a bridge, or some other purpose.
Disturbing the body’s energy flows. Anytime a tooth is removed, it upsets and breaks an acupuncture meridian that flows through the area of that tooth.
Creating cavitations or infection pockets. Anytime one has dental surgery, a common complication is the creation of cavitations or pockets of bacteria or other pathogens that are left in the jaw where the tooth was. This is an important cause of disease today.
Affecting the mouth structure. Although usually wisdom teeth are removed to make sure the mouth and jaw work properly, in fact by using chiropractic manipulation and other techniques, one may not really need the teeth removed. In fact, removing them alters the structure of the jaw and mouth and can be harmful in a few cases.
For all these reasons, I do not recommend removing wisdom teeth unless there is a definite reason to do so.
Read Dr. Wilson’s full article on Biological Dentistry here.
Our daughter chose to have two of her wisdom teeth removed after experiencing significant pain for more than a year. She tried natural solutions before making the decision and felt relief within weeks of the extractions.
2. Periodontal ligament removal
The periodontal ligament is a group of specialized connective tissue fibers that connects the tooth to the bone. If the periodontal ligament is left, the immune system can get the wrong message regarding healing. Dr. Louisa Williams, director of Marin Naturopathic Medicine clinic in California, explains the hazards of leaving this tissue behind in her article Dental Cavitation Surgery found on the Weston A. Price website.
These remaining periodontal ligament pieces later act as a barrier to the creation of new blood vessels and, therefore, to the regrowth of new bone. Dr. Hal Huggins likens the severity of this dental omission to the failure of removing the placenta (afterbirth) after delivering a baby: ‘Bone cells will naturally grow to connect with other bone cells after tooth removal—providing they can communicate with each other. If the periodontal ligament is left in the socket, however, bone cells look out and see the ligament, so they do not attempt to “heal” by growing to find other bone cells.’
This can make for an uncomfortable conversation with the oral surgeon. Here’s how I made my request:
“I’m sure you do this, but I wanted to be sure that all the periodontal ligament is removed during the surgery.” The surgeon seemed surprised by my comment, but agreed to honor it.
3. Local vs. general anesthesia
We’ve done it both ways. Most recently my 26-year-old daughter elected to be awake during the removal of both wisdom teeth. She did experience some pain during the procedure but was very glad she stayed awake. I noticed a quicker recovery for those who were awake, but my kids who chose the general anesthesia recovered fine too.
1. First 24–48 hours
These directions come from our oral surgeon. Your surgeon’s directions may be different.
- Don’t suck through a straw for 24–48 hours.
- Don’t disturb the blood clot.
- Don’t rinse vigorously for at least 24 hours.
- Don’t spit for 24 hours.
After each extraction, we went directly to acupuncture. Acupuncture is my go-to for any illness or injury. It helps get the immune system in gear, which fits well with a tooth extraction.
Our acupuncturist marked these points to help with pain. While we still took advantage of prescription pain medication, acupressure helped lessen the pain and possibly reduced the length of time needed for the meds. This was one of our most helpful post-surgery remedies.
Press directly on the point for 30 seconds or longer. The patient should experience some pain from the pressure. Release. Repeat as needed. This can be done on each arm, hand, and foot. Rotate the points.
3. Saltwater rinse
Salt water is recommended for initial rinsing. I made Pink Himalayan Sole (pronounced solay), which is water saturated with pink Himalayan salt. Sole is rich in trace minerals and makes an excellent disinfecting rinse.
How to Make Sole:
- Loosely fill a glass jar with several large Himalayan salt crystals or about an inch of smaller crystals or granulated salt.
- Fill the jar with filtered water. Shake or stir.
- Allow to sit overnight.
- If the crystals have dissolved completely, add more.
- The brine is ready to use when the water is no longer dissolving the crystals and some salt remains at the bottom of the jar.
There should always be undissolved salt crystals at the bottom. It is your visual proof that the water is saturated with the salt.
To use as a mouth rinse, combine one part sole with one part filtered water and rinse. (There is no set recipe for this. From what I understand, you can rinse with the sole undiluted. We chose to dilute.)
Arnica montana is a plant that grows in mountainous areas and is traditionally used as a topical treatment for swelling, joint pain, soreness, and much more. We found it especially beneficial in the first few days following surgery. Arnica comes in the form of a salve, balm, or tincture. (We used the salve I make with added chamomile and calendula found at Just So Products.)
Arnica should not be used on open sores, or taken internally unless it is a highly diluted homeopathic remedy.
My daughter Shannon had two wisdom teeth removed in November 2015 and raved about the salve.
I used the Arnica Salve on my cheeks and neck when they were puffy and sore. It was light enough that it didn’t clog my pores but rich enough to sink in and really soothe the muscles and surrounding tissue.
Even with the best of post-surgery care, complications can arise following a tooth extraction. But with these tips and plenty of rest, your experience may go quite smoothly!
Wondering about root canals? See my post Hazards of Root Canals.