Getting your wisdom teeth removed has become something of a right of passage for adolescents and young adults, and it’s one of the most common dental surgeries performed. Most patients’ wisdom teeth erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, while some patients’ never erupt (or never form in the first place).
If you’re preparing yourself mentally and physically for wisdom tooth surgery, be sure to add these healing hacks to your list of must-do’s for a speedy recovery.
What To Expect Immediately After Surgery
Your dentist or surgeon will give you clear information on any medications you should be taking and how you can encourage healing for your specific situation. Help in aiding your recovery by following these general guidelines for immediately after wisdom tooth extraction:
The Wizard of Gauze
The gauze pad placed over the surgical area should be kept in place for a half hour. After 30 minutes, the gauze pad should be removed and discarded. The gauze pad is initially placed to encourage the blood clot to form, so do not keep placing gauze in your mouth if you are not actively bleeding as doing so can cause the clot to become dislodged and delay healing.
Ice, Ice Baby
Use an ice pack for the first few hours after surgery to help reduce swelling. Hold the ice pack to the outside of the face over the area of the extraction site for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off to help in reducing discomfort and further swelling.
The Cure For Pain
Take any prescribed pain medications after you have had something to eat to help prevent nausea which could lead to the blood clots becoming dislodged.
Sitting Doing Nothing
Activities after surgery should be couch or bed rest for the first day. Bending, lifting or any strenuous activity will result in increased bleeding, swelling and pain. Be cautious when going from the lying down position to standing as it’s likely you will get light headed when you stand up suddenly. If you exercise regularly, the postoperative period may result in increased bleeding, swelling and discomfort so it’s best to avoid exercise for 3-4 days following surgery.
How To Speed Up Healing
Soon after surgery, blood clots will form in the place where the tooth was removed. These blood clots that form are an essential part of the healing process because they help your body by preventing too much bleeding, protect the wound from infection and allow new tissue to grow.
The best ways you can speed up healing of wisdom teeth removal is to protect these blood clots from becoming dislodged – especially within the first 24 hours. Keep the blood clots in place by avoiding things like:
- Brushing your teeth next to the extraction site
- Rinsing the mouth prior to the 24 hour mark
- Drinking hot liquids or eating hot foods
- Eating foods that require you to chew
- Sucking on straws
- Smoking tobacco products
- Drinking alcohol
What Will Your Healing Timeline Look Like?
Recovery time will be different for everyone depending on the length of time it takes to remove the wisdom teeth and the difficulty of the surgery. But there is one positive thing you can count on – recovery from wisdom tooth surgery will be gradual and you should see some improvement every day throughout your recovery process.
For a typical tooth extraction, your healing timeline should look similar to this:
The first 24 hours after wisdom tooth extraction is vital in ensuring the blood clots form properly and stay in place to jump start your healing process. Stick to your dentist or surgeons recommendations on what to do in the first 24 hours after surgery and follow the guidelines listed above.
The first two days after surgery are generally the most uncomfortable and there is usually some swelling that happens. Keep your mouth as clean as possible after surgery by using directed rinses and following specific diet restrictions.
On the third day post-surgery, you should be feeling more comfortable and, although still swollen, patients can typically begin a more substantial diet at this point. The remainder of the post-operative course should be gradual, with steady improvement felt daily.
With proper care, recovery usually takes around 2 weeks.
When You Should Call Your Dentist
The pain and swelling should subside more and more each day following surgery. If our post-operative pain or swelling worsens or unusual symptoms occur, contact our office right away. Symptoms of an infection include pain, swelling, yellow or white pus around the wound, and a high temperature. Dr. Phillippi is here to answer any questions you may have either prior to surgery, or post-operative, so give us a call with any specific questions!