Dental News |4 min read

What To Do (and What Not To Do) After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Avatar for Fidler on the Tooth by Fidler on the Tooth

Woman holding an ice pack agains her left cheek

Having a tooth extracted can be a stressful experience. But, the recovery doesn’t have to be! There are some practical steps you can take (and a few things to avoid) to make your recovery faster and more comfortable.

Just follow these dentist-approved tips, and you’ll be up and smiling again in no time.

What to expect after surgery

Knowing what to expect can remove a lot of the anxiety that can come with after-surgery care. Typically, a day after surgery, you may experience some pain and some swelling around your eyes and cheeks. This swelling can worsen for up to 72 hours after surgery.

To minimize any discomfort and swelling, apply an ice pack to your jaw for 15 minutes; then remove it for 15 minutes.  Be mindful of getting frostbite so if it starts to feel too cold, then ease off a bit. You can repeat this a few times for the first 24-48 hours. (Tip: you can use a zipped plastic bag with crushed ice if you don’t have an ice pack.) After 48 hours, therapy with ice is no longer effective, so switch to using a heat pack to ease pain or swelling.

After wisdom teeth removal, you can also expect some bleeding for the first few hours. You may keep gauze on the surgery site(s) for about a maximum of an hour.  Slight bleeding is normal until the blood clots.  The blood clot will help prevent the areas from getting alveolar osteitis, more commonly known as a dry socket, which can be very painful and will need to be addressed by the dentist or the Oral Surgeon.


What to do to speed up recovery from wisdom tooth extractions

What to do to help the healing process

Normally, it will take from two to four weeks for the socket (surgical site) to heal. To help this process along, here are some important things you can do:

  • Keep your mouth clean – It’s okay to carefully brush your teeth the night of your surgery, but wait until the next day to rinse your mouth. From then on, use a cup (8oz) of warm water mixed with a teaspoon of salt to gently rinse your mouth at least 5 to 6 times a day and especially after meals.
  • Take medications – Use any pain relievers prescribed by your doctor to control pain and keep you comfortable. Also, if your dentist prescribed antibiotics, make sure to complete the dosages as outlined.
  • Use a tea bag – No, not to brew you a soothing “cuppa.” Tea has tannic acid, which helps to contract blood vessels and reduce bleeding. Put a moist tea bag on the surgical site and bite down tightly for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Get lots of rest – It’s important to refrain from any physical activity for the first 24 hours after wisdom teeth removal. Elevate your head with some comfy pillows while resting and avoid sleeping on the same side as your extraction.
  • Resume your usual hygiene routine – After the first 24 hours, you can return to your normal brushing and flossing routine. Just remember to avoid the surgical area. At this time you can also resume wearing any orthodontic retainer you are using. If it causes discomfort, you can safely wait up to a week to begin your orthodontic treatment again. Be aware that your appliance may cause some discomfort if it hasn’t been worn in a few days but should go back to normal after wearing it for a day or two.
  • Watch your diet – At first, eat soft and somewhat cold foods like smoothies, ice cream, yogurt, and pudding. You can gradually change to semi-solids like warm soup and then to solids after the first few days.Here are some great tasting and healthy recipes that will make your downtime more enjoyable!

what not to do after wisdom tooth extraction surgery

What not to do after wisdom teeth removal

Now that you are relaxing comfortably and healing nicely by means of our tips above, there are a few things that you need to do to avoid derailing the recovery process.

  • Do not use straws – Do not rinse your mouth too vigorously, suck on a straw, or drink carbonated beverages for the first 24 hours. This will dislodge the blood clot and can cause a dry socket.
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol – Do not smoke or drink alcoholic beverages for at least 48 hours after surgery and preferably not for the first week.
  • Do not blow your nose – This can be a hard one if you’re experiencing any nasal drainage or stuffiness. For the first 14 days, just gently wipe your nose without actually blowing.
  • Do not eat hard-to-chew foods – Foods such as cereals, nuts, chips, or popcorn can be very difficult to eat after an extraction and may wound sensitive tissues. Wait for a week or so before you add them back into your menu.

By following these easy do’s and don’ts after wisdom teeth removal, you should be well on the way to recovery in just a few days after your procedure.

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