What is Recovery Like After Your Wisdom Teeth are Removed?
Your oral surgeon performs wisdom teeth extraction as an outpatient procedure, so you’ll be able to do the bulk of your recovery at home. While you are recovering, there will be certain restrictions you should keep in mind to speed the healing process and minimize any pain.
The Day of Surgery
Depending on the type of anesthesia or sedation Dr. Valiente uses, you will wake up in the dental chair or in recovery. It takes longer to wake up from general anesthesia. However, you will still recover in time to go home the day of surgery. You will need to have a responsible party available to drive you home after your surgery.
When the anesthesia begins to wear off, feeling in and around your mouth will slowly return. You will have some blood in your mouth, along with pain and swelling. This is normal. Placing an ice pack on your jawline helps reduce swelling and discomfort. You’ll be given specific instructions for at-home care as well as a prescription for pain. When you are awake and able to follow instructions, you will be able to go home, although you should not drive until the next day. It’s important to have someone with you who can drive you home after surgery.
The First Two Days After Wisdom Tooth Surgery
For the first few days, avoid caffeine and alcohol. Do not smoke, as this can slow the healing process. Don’t drink from a straw, chew gum, or spit, which can cause complications. A soft food diet will be essential for the first two days.
You will continue to experience swelling and pain in the first few days after surgery. The second and third days are the most uncomfortable for most people, with pain ranging from mild to severe. Make sure you put an ice pack on the area on and off for 20 minutes at a time to keep the swelling under control. Ice packs reduce the swelling and minimize pain.
Sleeping with your head elevated will minimize swelling and discomfort. Try sleeping on your side using an extra pillow for support. Rest at home and don’t participate in any strenuous activities the first three days. This is a great time for “Netflix and Chill.”
Days Three to Five After Wisdom Tooth Surgery
Your jaw will tighten up and feel stiff on day three. You may find it difficult to open your mouth fully, but applying moist heat will help relax the muscles. Over the next few days, your jaw will relax, and you’ll be able to move it easily. Bleeding will be minimal, but you may have some minor spotting for up to a week. If bleeding is heavy, please contact our office.
Most people recover within three to five days following wisdom teeth extraction, but this varies. If the teeth were impacted or the roots of the teeth were particularly long, it may take as long as a week to feel recovered.
Long Term Wisdom Tooth Surgery Recovery
Although you will feel normal, and there should not be any lingering pain after the first week, complete recovery will take longer. It takes several weeks for the surgical incision to heal completely. It is possible to develop an infection if you do not practice good oral hygiene.
How Do I Care for My Mouth After Surgery?
Do not brush or floss your teeth for 24 hours during your first day at home. Instead, rinse your mouth with salt water and let it drain from your mouth (no spitting!). During the first week, try not to disturb your stitches or the blood clot over the hole where your wisdom teeth were removed. The blood clot acts as a protective shield against infection and reduces your pain. If the blood clot or scab is dislodged, you may develop a dry socket. This is rare, but if it does happen, call Dr. Valiente’s office immediately so this can be addressed.
How Much Pain Will I Have After Wisdom Teeth Surgery?
Pain levels vary from patient to patient and depend on the degree of difficulty of the surgery. Most patients feel pain for the first three days to a week. They can usually manage their pain by periodically applying ice packs and taking non narcotic pain medication. Dr. Valiente may prescribe a stronger medication if needed.
In some cases, you may be prescribed antibiotics to take before and during recovery from surgery. These minimize the risk of infection while your mouth heals. Always take the entire course of antibiotics.
What Can I Eat After Wisdom Teeth Surgery?
You may not feel like eating or drinking much in the first two days after surgery, but it’s important to stay nourished and hydrated. Take sips of water throughout the day and focus on eating foods that don’t need a lot of chewing.
A soft diet may include:
- Mashed potatoes
- Cottage cheese
- Apple sauce
- Smoothies or milkshakes (use a spoon, not a straw!)
- Baby food
- Scrambled eggs
Avoid foods that could dislodge the scab over the wisdom tooth socket or irritate the area during the first week or two after surgery. This includes any hot foods that could burn the surgery area and nuts, seeds, popcorn, or other crunchy snacks. Chewing gum and taffy should also be avoided. Contact Dr. Valiente’s office immediately if you get something stuck in the empty socket.
As you recover, you can start adding everyday foods into your diet.
What Are Signs of Potential Problems Following Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
Most people recover from wisdom tooth surgery with no complications and return to normal activities within a week. There are symptoms you should look for that indicate a potential problem:
- Pain that continues to worsen
- Difficult breathing or swallowing
- Increased swelling past the first 48 hours
- Excess blood in the nose or mouth
- Pus or discharge
- Uncontrolled bleeding
Please contact our office if you experience any of these symptoms during the weeks after your wisdom tooth surgery.
To learn more about what to expect while recovering from wisdom tooth removal, contact our office at (813) 968-5400.
And keep in mind – the best time to have your wisdom teeth removed is before they become a problem!