Getting your wisdom teeth pulled is a sort of rite of passage into adulthood, but many people put the surgery off out of fear. An estimated 75-80% of adults who grow wisdom teeth will need to have them removed, so unless you’re one of the lucky few who can avoid it, you’ll probably need to get yours taken out at some point.
Today, the Amherst Village Dental team is here to offer information and advice for patients recovering from wisdom tooth surgery in order to keep the pain down and the recovery smooth.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are the third and last molars that grow in on each side of your upper and lower jaws. They usually poke through your gums in your late teens or early 20s. Some patients get fewer than 4, and some lucky patients don’t get their wisdom teeth at all!
Most people only have room in their jaws for 28 teeth, so when those extra 4 come in, overcrowding and disease can occur. They can grow in crooked and mess up your alignment, potentially undoing years of expensive and painful orthodontic work.
Impacted wisdom teeth are wisdom teeth that cannot erupt or grow in because of blockage from your other teeth. This can result in pain, inflammation, and damage to the surrounding teeth.
For these reasons, our team recommends getting a wisdom teeth examination in your late teens to prevent damage, disease, or further pain.
Wisdom Tooth Surgery Recovery Tips
After you’ve undergone wisdom tooth surgery, there are a number of things that you can do to ensure that your recovery is as quick and painless as possible. Unfortunately, most patients do experience differing degrees of discomfort and inconvenience after surgery. However, if you follow these post-operative guidelines, you can hope to keep your recovery time short.
Immediately following surgery:
- Keep the gauze pads in your mouth for 30 minutes. After that, remove and discard them. If bleeding persists, replace the gauze every 30 minutes.
- Avoid vigorous rinsing or touching the surgical site. This may dislodge the blood clot and further delay healing.
- Take your prescribed pain medication as soon as you start feeling discomfort. Usually, this happens when your local anesthetic wears off.
- Restrict activities for the rest of the day and only resume them when you feel comfortable doing so.
Expect a certain amount of bleeding during and after surgery. Slight bleeding, oozing and redness in your saliva is not uncommon in the first 24 hours or so after the procedure. If you have excessive bleeding, wipe away any old clots and then place gauze in your mouth for 30 minutes to soak up the blood. Repeat if necessary.
If you continue to bleed, bite softly on a moistened tea bag for 30 minutes. The tannic acid from the tea bag will help form a clot by contracting blood vessels. To avoid further bleeding, don’t become excited, sit upright and steer clear of exercise.
Swelling of the face, cheeks, eyes and lips should be expected after surgery. This is the body’s normal reaction to the procedure and eventual repair. Usually, the swelling won’t become apparent until the day after surgery and will peak within 2-3 days.
You can minimize swelling by applying ice packs or ice bags on the sides of the face where the surgery was performed. Leave the ice packs on continuously while you’re awake, because after 36 hours, ice has no effect. If swelling continues, don’t be alarmed—this is your body’s natural response. Moist heat after 36 hours can usually help reduce the size of the swelling.
For moderate pain, take 1-2 tablets of Tylenol or Extra Strength Tylenol may be taken every three to four hours. Or if you cannot take Tylenol, you make take 2-4 200mg tablets of Ibuprofen every 3-4 hours. Your doctor may prescribe a stronger painkiller to take as directed.
Most prescription painkillers will make you tired, groggy and slow, so make sure that you do not drive or operate machinery while taking your medication and avoid alcohol. The pain should subside little by little each day, but if it does not, call your doctor as this may signify a larger problem.
Some pain medications can cause patients to feel nauseous and vomit. Taking the medication with food like yogurt or softened crackers can usually solve this problem.
Immediately after the procedure, drink plenty of fluids but don’t drink them through a straw. The vacuum effect that sucking can cause in your mouth can dislodge the blood clot and delay healing. For the first 24 hours, stick to soft foods like yogurt, ice cream, and applesauce. Swallowing may be difficult, so you may need to eat several smaller meals.
You may slowly reintroduce more solids back into your diet after 1 day. Pancakes, eggs, mashed potatoes, and pasta are soft and can be cut with your fork, which is good for your sensitive surgical sites.
For at least 1 week, avoid hard and crunchy foods like popcorn, chips, hard candies, and apples. Don’t miss meals! Proper nutrition is essential to quick healing.
The day after surgery, avoid rinsing, brushing, and spitting, as this may dislodge the blood clot and delay healing.
You may resume brushing your teeth the day after surgery, but make sure to do so gently and not to irritate the surgical site. Begin rinsing every four to six hours, especially after meals, with a warm saltwater solution (dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 1/2 cup of warm water). Continue warm salt rinses for one week.
- Sore Throat: A sore throat and pain while swallowing are not uncommon, as your muscles will be swollen. This should subside within 2-3 days.
- Stiff Jaw: Trimus or stiffness of the jaw is normal and may make opening your mouth feel difficult or painful. After several days, this should go away.
- Dry Mouth: If the corners of your mouth are stretched, dryness and cracks may occur. Vaseline usually solves this problem.
- Discoloration: In some cases, discoloration of the skin follows swelling. The development of black, blue, green, or yellow discoloration is due to blood spreading beneath the tissues. This is a normal postoperative occurrence, usually appearing 2-3 days after surgery.
- Bony Edges: Occasionally, patients feel hard projections in their mouth with their tongue. Don’t worry, these aren’t roots, they’re just the bony structures that used to support your tooth. Over time, these should go away on their own.
- Fever: Right after surgery, a slight elevation in temperature is normal and should subside fairly quickly. If the fever persists, call your surgeon for further instruction.
Call Our Office For An Exam
It’s no secret that wisdom tooth extraction surgery is not the most pleasant process. But getting your wisdom teeth out at the right time is crucial for your long term oral health. Schedule your examination with our office at Amherst Village Dental now to get started!