Wisdom teeth extractions are one of the most recurrent surgical procedures in dental clinics. In fact, approximately five million individuals get their wisdom teeth extracted every year in the United States, and even though not everyone needs them removed, chances are you will need this oral surgery yourself. It will eventually come down to what’s right for you, your mouth shape and size, and other factors like your teeth’ ability to erupt properly aligned.
However, just like any other surgery in general, it is quite frequent for patients to get worried when they are told by their dentist that they should have their wisdom teeth extracted. As a matter of fact, it can take up to two weeks for complete recovery, and the aftermath may include swollen mouth and cheeks, skin bruises, a stiff, sore jaw, and an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Nevertheless, following the right recommendations will help make this recovery smoother and shorter. Also, on the bright side, you won’t have to worry about a dental implant cost after removing your wisdom teeth because you simply won’t have to replace them – implants are not recommended for this region in your mouth. Tempting, isn’t it? Continue reading this article to find out how to make your wisdom teeth removal a relatively pleasant experience.
1. Get yourself ready before you have the work done
It is very important to be well informed about the procedure and to ask your dentist any questions you have before the surgery because a well-informed patient will not worry as much as an uninformed one!
Also, your dentist could give you preoperative recommendations that would make your procedure and its aftermath smoother, like prescribing antibiotics or anxiolytics, telling you to come accompanied so you won’t have to drive afterwards if you don’t feel comfortable enough, or even advising you to take a day off work following the surgery.
2. Follow your dentist’s pain medication prescription
Depending on the reason behind your need for the extraction and how it actually goes (mainly how conservative it is, if bone-drilling is performed or not, etc..), your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and painkillers.
It is always very important to follow the prescription you receive in order to prevent infections, pain, and a prolonged healing period. Remember its important you finish any course of antibiotics you’ve been given!
3. Bite down gently on a gauze pad
Very often, after you have extracted your tooth, your dentist will give you a gauze pad which they will ask you to bite on for a short period of 15 to 30 minutes.
If the bleeding persists after this period of time, you can replace the gauze pad with another, allowing in particular to stabilize the clot and to start healing gently and as it should.
4. Use ice packs
Additionally, your dentist might ask you to apply ice packs intermittently to the outside of your mouth for a few hours in order to minimize the swelling and bruising, as well as any discomfort you may feel.
5. Less solid, aim for softer foods!
For the 24 hours following your wisdom tooth extraction, it is highly recommended that you refrain from consuming hard foods requiring more chewing and opt for a soft diet without resorting to a straw, the use of which could loosen the blood clot and cause very painful alveolitis.
It would be ideal if these foods were cold for a cooling and relieving sensation around the areas where the removal of the wisdom teeth was done.
6. Rest as much as you can
It’s always advisable to take things slowly following your surgery in order to achieve long-term recovery success. So, try not to exert too much effort the same day and the next day, and avoid strenuous exercises the week after because exercising too soon after the surgery can cause more swelling and bleeding.
Conclusion: get as much rest as you can and use an extra pillow to support your head at night.
7. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
This is especially advised if you are taking medication because alcohol could prevent certain medications from working and enhance your chances of feeling more discomfort and pain. Regarding smoking, this causes vasoconstriction, meaning a narrowing of the blood vessels, resulting in a reduced blood supply to the wound. This will slow, or even preventing good and rapid healing.
Additionally, the sucking motion involved while smoking could lead to what is known as alveolitis, the most frequent complications after tooth extraction, which consists of the disruption of the blood clot being supposed to fill the gap that the extracted tooth occupied and leading to pain of varying intensity. This could mean another urgent visit to your dentist.
8. Start using antiseptic mouthwash or salt water after 24 hours
In order to allow for optimal healing and avoid the occurrence of infections, your dentist will prescribe a commercial antiseptic mouthwash based on chlorhexidine, or a homemade mouth rinse made of salt and lukewarm water.
However, gargling this mouthwash should not be started until 24 hours after surgery to avoid disturbing the blood clot that forms in the empty tooth socket.
You will need to gargle several times a day for a week or so, as recommended by your dentist, but mostly after drinking or eating. Always remember it is very important to ensure your mouth stays clean.
9. Keep that jaw moving!
There’s a chance you might feel some stiffness in your jaw after your wisdom teeth removal surgery. If you do, you need to work through that stiffness by regularly opening and closing your mouth: start slowly but be persistent with this!
This list of recommendations might be a bit long for the less assiduous and compliant, but anything you can do to have smooth and painless recovery is worth it, right? You should always keep in mind that your dentist might give you recommendations that are slightly different from the ones outlined here, and that you should therefore follow them diligently to ensure that you heal as quickly as possible.
About the Author
Author bio: Suzanna Maria Sayegh graduated in Oral Pathology, got a Master’s in Research and a Doctorate in Dental Surgery at the Saint-Joseph University of Beirut. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Aesthetic and Prosthetic Dentistry. It is her top priority to provide high-quality, minimally invasive dental care to each patient, respecting their individual goals and needs.