Your Guide to Do’s and Don’ts After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third molars in the mouth that erupt (grow and come out) anytime from the ages of 14 to 21. They are called “wisdom teeth” because they are the last teeth to come in, and usually erupt after the adolescent mouth has matured.
Since these teeth come in after the mouth has already matured, they tend to complicate the mouth and cause any number of dental problems.
In rare cases, wisdom teeth have plenty of space to come in and stick around. But most of the time, these wisdom teeth are impacted, which can lead to many problems.
Impacted teeth lead to pressure (and crowding of) nearby teeth, which is a very painful experience that can only be remedied by having the wisdom teeth removed.
What Do I Need to Know About Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
While wisdom tooth removal is very common for people in their teens and early twenties, it can come with a painful recovery.
Most people opt to have all of their wisdom teeth removed in one procedure. When recovering from a wisdom teeth extraction, a blood clot formation will take place at the extraction site. This clot eventually fills in the space of the extracted tooth and your mouth goes back to normal once this process is complete.
The full recovery time for wisdom tooth extraction is about three to four weeks. While your mouth is doing most of the work to bring you to full recovery, there are several things you need to know about recovery.
Your mouth care routine will look a little different for a few weeks, and it is very important to follow the right care recommendations after this oral surgery. Following the recommendations can help you to prevent dry socket and other complications.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of taking care of yourself after having your wisdom teeth removal procedure.
After the surgery, the anesthetic will wear off and pain will come in over time. Ice packs are your friend!
After the first few days the pain should dull but, until then, pain management will be important for the first part of recovery.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Elevate your head to reduce swelling.
- Use an ice pack on the cheek by the extraction site for the first one to two days. Using ice packs often will reduce swelling and pain.
- Take any pain medication as directed by your oral care team.
- Jaw exercises. Move the jaw up and down slightly and slowly after the first day and increase frequency of the exercise over time.
- Talk or move your mouth much for the first day of recovery.
Bleeding in the extraction area is typical for the first 24 hours after wisdom tooth removal. If bleeding continues after 24 hours and hasn’t slowed, contact your oral care team.
As you reintroduce activities throughout recovery past 24 hours, such as exercising or eating, cease immediately if more bleeding occurs.
Oral surgeons recommend this method of managing blood in the mouth for the first 24 hours in order to reduce the risk of dry sockets:
- Bite gauze for the first 30 minutes after surgery. It will alleviate pain and help with the formation of a blood clot. If bleeding continues after 30 minutes, apply bite down pressure with gauze for 15-20 minutes. If you are not bleeding you should avoid using gauze.
- Allow blood and saliva to drain from your mouth over a sink when needed, avoiding forceful spitting.
- Spit. Spitting can cause more pain, more bleeding, and can put extraction sites at risk for dry sockets. Spitting creates suction and pressure, which can increase risk of pain, or can dislodge the blood clot and create a dry socket. Avoid forceful spitting for at least a week after your procedure.
Cleaning Your Mouth
After having your wisdom teeth removed, it is important to keep a clean mouth. It is also important that you interfere with the wisdom teeth extraction site as little as possible to promote healing.
After 24 hours, the blood clot protecting you from dry socket should be intact and will have much less risk of falling out. However, there is a certain level of care you should adhere to after a tooth extraction.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of brushing your teeth and how to rinse your mouth properly:
- Begin brushing teeth the day of your wisdom tooth extraction.
- Brush gently.
- Avoid wisdom teeth extraction sites and be extra careful when brushing near the extraction area.
- Poke or touch the extraction site.
- Brush the extraction site.
- Rinse your mouth strenuously.
- Spit. After rinsing, allow it to fall into the sink rather than spitting it out. Again, avoid spitting for at least a week.
Our bodies do most of their healing while we sleep. Sleeping can be uncomfortable after any type of surgery, and a wisdom tooth removal is no different.
Pain management is going to be a large factor in how well you can get to sleep at night. Healthline has an in-depth guide to sleep after wisdom tooth removal.
Here’s the gist of it:
- Elevate your head with an extra pillow.
- Take any prescribed pain relievers. If you are not prescribed any, Ibuprofen is a safe choice for most (this study from InformedHealth.org details why Ibuprofen is the better choice compared to Tylenol).
- Use an ice pack while you are trying to sleep. Using an ice pack some time before sleep is generally a good idea, too.
- Sleep in a dark, cool room, and do as much of what you normally do so you can relax and get to sleep.
- Stay up late. You must get enough sleep after wisdom teeth extraction so your body can recuperate.
- Sleep flat on your back. Keeping your head elevated is important for blood flow during the healing process.
Eating and Drinking
You may have guessed this already, but eating and drinking will feel (and be) much different after an oral surgery. Soft foods will be your best bet during your recovery from a wisdom tooth removal.
- Eat liquid or soft foods (jello, applesauce, soups and broths) for the first five to six hours after this major oral surgery. Remember—no straws!
- Eat liquid or soft food like mashed potatoes, yogurts, ice cream, etc. for the first two days.
- Incorporate solid foods slowly and chew away from the side of the wisdom teeth extraction site.
- Continue to eat liquid or soft food if pain occurs, while reintroducing tougher foods during recovery.
- Use a straw
- Drink hot or carbonated drinks for the first 24 hours or if you are bleeding.
- Eat hard or crunchy foods (like pretzels or chips) for at least a week.
- Eat solid foods too early.
- Chew on the side of your wisdom tooth extraction site.
- Continue eating something if it causes you more pain.
Exercise is normally a very healthy thing. Immediately after surgery, though, it is most certainly not recommended.
Of course, you probably won’t feel like exercising right after an oral surgery, anyway, but it’s important to know your timeline.
- Exercise your jaw by moving it up and down slowly.
- Reintroduce low impact exercise when you no longer require pain medication and are no longer bleeding.
- Reintroduce exercise to your body slowly.
- Exercise during the first 24 hours of recovery. This can dislodge the blood clot in the extraction site. It will also raise your blood pressure, which may increase bleeding.
Alcohol and Smoking
It is best to stay away from drinking alcohol and smoking in order to heal properly.
Smoking, in particular, can cause a number of complications after an oral surgery. Remember that there is a wound in your mouth and it must be taken care of.
Smoking’s sucking action carries the same risk as spitting or using a straw. Nicotine, itself, also has risks to your mouth, along with the chemicals in both cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, which can increase the risk of harmful bacteria reaching the extraction site. Nicotine gum is also a bad idea.
Do not drink alcohol or use any oral form of nicotine for at least 72 hours after your procedure.
Do not drink alcohol while taking narcotic pain medication.
About Your Dental Care
For the best teeth extraction recovery process, it is important to follow these wisdom teeth extraction do’s and don’ts and follow up with an oral surgeon during and after recovery.
Contact us at Buck and Phillips Oral Surgery to schedule your wisdom teeth extraction today