Caring for Yourself: Wisdom Tooth Surgery Recovery
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The most important part of your wisdom tooth surgery recovery is taking good care of yourself once you get back home.
Our post-operative instructions are designed to help you prevent excessive time off work or school, promote faster healing, and make sure you feel as comfortable as possible.
Some of the tips our oral surgeon gives you may not seem significant at first, but they can drastically enhance how quickly you recover from your surgical extraction. It’s vital that you follow all of them as carefully as possible.
What to Expect During the First Two Weeks
Once the local anesthetic (numbing agent) has worn off several hours after surgery, you’ll start to feel some soreness and experience short-term swelling or bruising. However, while you’re still numb, take care not to bite your lips or cheeks, or touch the sutures.
Most surgical stitches will dissolve and fall out on their own. If you feel any small sharp areas, these are usually bone chips that work their way out or are removed when we see you for a follow up.
Swelling and bruising can last up to two weeks in some cases. For bruising, a moist hot compress works best. Swelling responds better to a cold compress (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off for the first 24-hours.) Keeping your head elevated can also help.
What About Bleeding?
Bleeding after oral surgery is very normal. It’s important to apply pressure by biting on sterile gauze for 1.5 hours, and changing the gauze at least every 45-minutes until a clot has formed. Gauze may also be soaked in ice (or you may use a tea bag instead) if bleeding seems heavy. If bleeding doesn’t improve within a few hours or gets worse, call us immediately.
Managing Pain or Discomfort from an Extraction
Making sure you have food in your stomach is the best way to prevent medication-induced nausea. Always take your medication as prescribed, whether it’s prescription strength or over the counter.
Worried about a dry socket? The best way to avoid having your clot dislodged is by preventing negative pressure inside of your mouth. Don’t use any straws, syringes, or smoking (the nicotine/cannabis interferes with healing) for at least one week.
A bit of stiffness in your jaws is quite normal for the first few days but gradually improves on its own. Please start stretching by opening as large as possible for 10 seconds twice an hour starting on the evening of your surgery.
Diet and Exercise After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
You may be wondering what to plan on eating or how long it will take you to start consuming solid foods, especially when you’ve had surgery in your mouth.
Start with clear liquids — Water or fruit juices are ideal for the first day.
Eat cold, soft foods — Ice cream, gelatin, or pudding are ideal.
Progress to other solids — By day 2 or 3, you can advance to a regular diet. Eat what feels comfortable.
Avoid hard, sharp foods — Hard texture foods can damage your surgical site. Wait to eat these until you have fully healed, generally 2 weeks.
If you’re training or working out regularly, it’s important to take it easy for a few days. Avoid any activities that could result in trauma to your jaw (such as basketball, football, soccer, etc.) and start out with lower intensity workouts, listening to your body and stopping if necessary.
Cleaning Your Mouth After Wisdom Tooth Surgery
This is one time when it’s ok to avoid using your toothbrush for a little while. Clean your mouth by gently rinsing with warm salt water after meals (be careful not to rinse too forcefully, as this could dislodge the healing clot at the surgical site). Do not rinse with other mouthwashes. You can brush your teeth starting the day after surgery, as long as you don’t disrupt the surgical site.
Don’t Hesitate to Call Dr. Hayes
If you’re recovering from wisdom tooth extractions or any other oral surgery and have an urgent question or concern that needs to be addressed, contact our office right away. After hours callers can choose the option to have their call transferred to our dental surgeon directly, for immediate assistance.
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