For most people, wisdom teeth tend to develop in the late teens or early twenties. In some cases, a well-aligned wisdom tooth might not need extraction. However, nowadays, aside from those experiencing pain, most dentists recommend wisdom tooth extraction to all patients, even if it’s not causing discomfort. This is to serve as a preventive measure.
The procedure to remove a wisdom tooth is a serious oral surgical procedure. Like any other surgery, the recovery process of a wisdom tooth extraction can be uncomfortable, painful, and complicated. However, following the proper aftercare procedures can make your recovery process faster and less painful.
Your dentist will offer instructions and advice based on your procedure and medication response. In addition to professional advice, you might need more information about wisdom tooth extraction and tips for a successful recovery. Therefore, discussed below are the dos and don’ts after wisdom tooth extraction. Read on!
Do: Bite Your Cotton Gauze
After your wisdom tooth extraction, you might experience some minor bleeding. Even though this bleeding doesn’t last long, it still needs to be controlled to allow blood clotting to happen.
You can control the bleeding using damp cotton gauze. Roll up a clean damp gauze and place it on the surgical area, then bite with the pressure for thirty to sixty minutes. If the bleeding persists after removing the gauze, replace it with a new piece and ensure it’s well-positioned. Note that the gauze has to be large enough to cover the extraction area. If the bleeding persists, consider consulting with your dentist.
Do: Take Time And Rest
The recovery process of wisdom tooth extraction can vary for different people but is normally brief. During the extraction, the dentist numbs the surgical area to prevent pain. As a result, it might take time for your mouth to regain its natural feel.
Most dentists recommend resting for 48-72 hours to ensure the blood clot forms effectively. Some people might feel normal after a few days, especially if their cases aren’t complex. However, you might take more time to heal, usually several weeks.
When resting, you’ll need to keep the surgical area elevated to avoid having the blood clot move. So, when sleeping, consider using pillows that give you elevation. Use as much pillow as possible to get you sufficient height.
Do: Keep The Surgical Area Clean
Performing oral hygiene for the first twenty-four hours is not advisable. However, using a warm saline solution, you still need to keep the surgical area clean afterward. The saltwater solution, a natural tissue fluid, makes it less irritating.
After twenty-four hours and with a stable blood clot in the socket, you can use a syringe to irrigate the surgical area to keep it clean. You can begin to brush your teeth after clotting is formed gently. But avoid brushing the teeth extraction sites as it might irritate them further.
Do: Practice Jaw Exercises
After your extraction, the muscles of the jaws might become tense and restricted, making it hard to open and move the jaws around. This feeling becomes very annoying as it limits your eating ability and might sometimes be painful.
To ease the pain, you can perform some jaw exercises. Begin by opening and closing your mouth. If it’s hard, stretch your teeth by placing your fingers between the front teeth. Begin this jaw exercise after at least forty-eight hours.
Slow stretching several times daily might limit stiffness, pain, and swelling. And to increase jaw mobility, push your top teeth and lightly pull down on the bottom teeth for thirty seconds.
Do: Elevate Your Head
The tooth extraction procedure is done while you are sleeping on your back. So, when resting, you’ll need to elevate your head for the first week after the procedure. This time will be enough for the surgical site to recover and stay healthy.
The elevation will allow the fluids to drain from the surgical area. And with the surgical area remaining dry, you’ll experience less swelling. Elevating your head might also reduce the chances of experiencing new bleeding. So, consider using pillows to keep your head elevated while you sleep.
In addition to elevating your head, you might also benefit from sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your back ensures that the bleeding in the surgical area won’t shift. As a result, consider sleeping on your back for a week.
Do: Use An Ice Pack
To minimize swelling, use an ice pack right after the extraction. Apply it for 15 minutes every hour. Avoid placing it directly on your face. Wrap a towel around the ice pack and place it against your skin.
Furthermore, remember that the timing should be precise. So, set a timer if necessary. If the pain and swelling persist, continue icing your face throughout the first twenty-four hours after the surgery.
Do: Use The Other Side To Eat
Although you may not be allowed to eat hard, crunchy food after an extraction, you still get to use your other side. You can only use the opposite side of the surgical area to chew and eat a few days post extraction.
Try and eat softer foods to make chewing easy. Afterward, clean your teeth and rinse them well to avoid transferring bacteria that might affect the extraction site.
Do: Use Soft Or Liquid Foods
Suppose you experience some numbness after the procedure; it’s always best to remember that what you eat afterward is vital. Your dentist might give you a list of foods you can eat, and it’s best to stick to them.
For the first 24 hours, consider eating soups, mashed potatoes, milkshakes, smoothies, etc. Soft and liquid foods don’t need chewing, which saves you some pain. So, these foods are perfect for quicker healing as they won’t irritate the procedure area.
Softer and liquid food won’t be trapped in the surgical area; thus, it won’t cause any damage or lead to an infection. Listed below are foods you should avoid for a week, depending on your recovery process.
- Grains, such as rice or any type of seeds, can easily be trapped in the surgical area, thus leading to an infection.
- Hard-to-chew foods might reopen the wound and delay the healing process.
In addition to soft or liquid foods, choose cold foods as they might help ease the discomfort. As you heal, consider incorporating more solid foods. However, if you experience any pain with solid foods, go back to soft or semisoft foods.
Don’t: Skip A Dose
Every wisdom tooth extraction comes with a prescription for appropriate medications from a dentist. These medications should be taken regularly to control pain and prevent infection. Most dentists require patients to take pain medications and antibiotics before the local anesthetic wears off.
You must complete your dosage to avoid experiencing pain later on or developing an infection. If you experience more severe pain, the doctor might prescribe a stronger pain reliever.
Avoid self-medicating as you might take painkillers that are blood thinners. And since you want your blood to clot around the surgical area and quicken the healing process, it’s crucial to take your prescribed medication.
Don’t: Use Straws, Smoke, Or Consume Alcohol
Since the primary part of healing involves maintaining the clot in the surgical area, you may need to avoid using straws, smoking, or consuming alcohol. The suction activity from a straw might move or completely remove the formed clot, leaving it bare for infection.
Read Also: What to Do If You Have a Toothache at Home
If you drink liquids, avoid taking caffeinated drinks. This is because caffeine might slow the clotting process and leave you with a dry socket. Moreover, caffeine, alcoholic or carbonated beverages may also slow down the healing process.
Lastly, if you are a smoker, you might need to avoid tobacco products such as cigarettes, gum, etc. Nicotine products delay the healing process and significantly increase the risk of complications.
Don’t: Sneeze Or Cough
If you have allergies causing you to sneeze and cough, let your dentist know beforehand. This is because sneezing or coughing tends to be violent motions that might dislodge a healing blood clot.
Letting your doctor know about your allergies will enable him to prescribe therapy that helps to prevent your allergies from flaring up. However, if you need to cough or sneeze, do it with your mouth open to allow the pressure to go out through your mouth.
Wisdom tooth extraction recovery may be uncomfortable and challenging. Therefore, follow the aftercare instructions your dentist gives you. By sticking to the instructions, you won’t fear having complications or dealing with a long recovery journey.
Remember that your procedure will affect your life activities for five to seven days, and you must prepare accordingly. Avoid having a dry socket by not pocking into the gap or rinsing your mouth vigorously. Additionally, avoid taking medications that are blood thinners, including aspirin. Finally, ask your dentist any follow-up questions you have to ensure you understand everything.