Wisdom Teeth

wisdomteethDr. Cowan specializes in the extraction of wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth usually appear during a person’s late teens or early twenties. Wisdom teeth need to be removed if they are being prevented from  properly erupting within the mouth. Oftentimes, wisdom teeth grow sideways, emerge partially from the gum or even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Problems can arise in all of these cases, which is why removal is indicated in many cases. If you have x-rays from your dentist’s office, please bring them to your appointment. Most insurance companies do not pay for another set of x-rays, so if Dr. Cowan needs to take another set of x-rays, you will be financially responsible for them at the time of your visit.

Here is some general information that may answer your questions:

  • The surgery usually lasts for about an hour, although it varies by case.
  • You do not have to wait until your wisdom teeth are bothering you before you have them removed. Early removal is indicated to avoid future problems such as infection due to impacted teeth or the disruption of the natural alignment of the teeth.
  • Dress comfortably.
  • If you are having IV sedation, you will be unable to drive yourself home. You need to bring someone with you, and they must stay in our office during the entire surgery.
  • Dr. Cowan recommends that a responsible adult stay with you for 12-24 hours after your surgery.
  • Make sure you take all of your prescribed medications unless otherwise notified by Dr. Cowan.
  • After your surgery, you will be given “post-op” instructions.
  • You may have to place gauze in your mouth immediately after surgery to stop some light bleeding. If you continue to bleed, your gauze pack needs to be changed every 15-20 minutes.
  • To reduce swelling, you may use ice for the first 48-72 hours.
  • You should normally be able to resume your activities 3-5 days after surgery.
  • If you have any questions or concerns after surgery, just call our office at (317) 536-0748 and we will connect you with one of our surgical assistants.
  • For the first few days after surgery, only eat soft foods and drink liquids. Do not use a straw, as the suction can hinder clotting. No hard or sticky food. Remember that adequate nutrition after surgery is optimal for proper healing.
  • You can gently rinse with salt water to promote healing. You should rinse after each meal for at least a week.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Sutures or stitches are often used in the area of surgery. These stitches will normally dissolve within 5-10 days after your surgery.
  • Do not vigorously exercise for 3-5 days after your surgery.

Risks/Complication from Surgery

  • There is always a chance of infection after a surgery. If you experience fever, abnormal swelling, pain, a prolonged bad taste or any drainage, you need to call our office, and Dr. Cowan will do whatever is appropriate to treat the problem.
  • Dry Socket is a condition that develops in the empty tooth socket when blood clotting is disturbed. It can be quite painful because it has left your bone exposed to air. Contact Dr. Cowan for treatment.

Dry Sockets

Typically when a tooth is removed, the empty socket fills with blood. Three to five days after your tooth is removed, a clot begins to form. It can dislodge or dissolve, leaving your bone exposed. If this happens, call our office and we will see you immediately.

There is no proven method to prevent a dry socket, but there are things you can do that will make getting one less likely. You should avoid smoking and sucking liquid through a straw. Following your post-op instructions is the best way to reduce your risk for developing a dry socket.

A dry socket is not an infection that can be cured with medication. You will need to be seen in our office and we will rinse the area of all debris, then we will place medicated gauze dressing in the socket. This will numb, cover and protect the exposed bone. You may need to be seen two or three times to replace the dressing.

Indianapolis Office
Cherry Tree Professional Building
9602 E. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46229
Phone: 317.536.0748

Greenfield Office
Parkway Medical Center
300 E. Boyd St.
Greenfield, IN 46140
Phone: 317.462.5343


Mon. & Thurs.: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tues.*: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Wed. & Fri.: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
*Greenfield Office only