What to do after wisdom teeth removal – Cleveland Clinic

It might not be as fun as getting money from the tooth fairy, but getting your wisdom teeth removed doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds.

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Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are four teeth located at the very back of your mouth. As we age, these teeth erupt or cut your gums, usually between the ages of 17 and 21.

But sometimes your wisdom teeth can grow at a painful angle or get stuck under your gumline or jawbone which is known to have impacted wisdom teeth.

Your dentist may recommend that you have your wisdom teeth removed, a common dental surgery. An oral surgeon will cut your gums or bones to access and remove your wisdom teeth.

Thereafter, it is important to take care of your incisions so that they can heal well. Your recovery may take a few weeks.

Oral surgeons Sagar Khanna, DDS, and Craig Mangie, DDS, explain what your recovery timeline might look like and offer tips for speedy recovery.

Recovery schedule

Your path to recovery may seem different from others. Recovery can take anywhere from one to two days to a few weeks. And it may take longer to heal if your wisdom teeth are impacted.

How quickly you heal also depends on other factors like age.

“Young people heal faster than older people,” says Dr. Mangie.

If you are younger, your wisdom teeth are more likely to come out more easily. Your wisdom teeth may not be fully formed and your bone is softer.

“The older you get, the bigger your wisdom teeth get,” says Dr. Khanna. “Your bone is denser. The surgery takes longer and the recovery is also much longer.

On the day of surgery, which should take around 45 minutes, you will likely be given local or general anesthesia.

You may wake up with gauze in your mouth to help absorb the blood. Within the first 24 hours, blood clots will begin to form in the socket of your tooth. These blood clots help prevent bleeding, allow new tissue to grow, and protect the area from infection.

Most people do not feel pain, but you will notice pain and swelling. If your oral surgeon does stitches, they usually dissolve on their own in seven to 10 days.

It may take a few days for the swelling to subside and your pain to go away. Overall, it could take a few weeks for your mouth to fully heal.

You will usually have a follow-up appointment in seven to 10 days as well.

Recovery tips

After your wisdom teeth are removed, it is important to follow the post-operative instructions you receive from your oral surgeon.

Here are some tips to stay on track with your recovery.

take it easy

If you’ve had anesthesia, you’ll want to avoid drinking alcohol, operating machinery, or driving for 24 hours. And if you experience swelling and pain, it may be best to rest the first day.

Eat soft foods

For the first five to seven days, it is recommended to eat soft foods such as pasta, eggs, pudding and yogurt. Avoid foods containing seeds or fine grains which can get stuck in the extraction socket.

“Every time you eat or drink something, you should rinse your mouth with warm salt water to remove all food debris,” says Dr. Khanna. “Having food debris in the socket can cause prolonged pain or even make the pain worse.”

Use hot and cold compresses

To help relieve swelling and any discomfort, first use a cold compress such as an ice pack.

“You can do 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off for the first 24 hours,” says Dr Khanna. “Then you can start doing the same with a warm compress. This helps bring more blood to the area to clean out any inflammatory material.

It’s typical for your swelling to be at its worst on the third day, notes Dr. Khanna, so using a warm compress can help. Also, try to keep your head elevated above your heart, which helps reduce swelling.

Stay on top of pain management

In most cases, you can use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen to help manage the pain.

“It all depends on how long the procedure takes and how difficult the procedure is,” says Dr. Khanna.

If you are experiencing significant pain, your oral surgeon may prescribe opioids to control acute pain.

“We recommend using ibuprofen as your primary source of pain control and using the opioid for any breakthrough pain,” says Dr. Mangie.

keep brushing

You may want to avoid brushing your teeth after removing your wisdom teeth, but stick with the routine, says Dr. Khanna.

“You just have to avoid the area where the surgery was done,” says Dr. Khanna. “Use your routine mouthwash and salt water rinse to keep the area clean. Once the swelling starts to go down and the pain subsides, you can start slowly brushing the back of your mouth .

What not to do after surgery

While you are letting your mouth and any incisions heal, you will want to refrain from certain activities.

  • Don’t drink through a straw.
  • Don’t rinse your mouth too harshly.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise.
  • Avoid foods containing seeds.
  • Avoid hard, crunchy and spicy foods.

In rare cases, you can develop dry socket, when the blood clots forming on your incisions have been disrupted, exposing your bone. In other rare cases, you may develop an infection.

It is important that if you experience pain that does not improve after a few days or have a fever, you follow up with your oral surgeon. They can assess you for next steps. And in some cases, they may prescribe an antibiotic or place medicated dressings over the infected area.

But overall, there is no risk in having wisdom teeth removed.

“Having wisdom teeth removed is a common procedure,” says Dr. Mangie. “In most cases, you will recover within a week or two.”

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