Wisdom teeth are the backmost molars that emerge last in a person’s lifetime. Each adult will get a total of four of these molars, each of which will appear along the top and bottom of both the left and right sides of the mouth.
Typically, wisdom teeth emerge when a person reaches 17 to 21 years old. However, there are instances when there isn’t enough room in the mouth for these late-growing molars, causing them to push the other teeth closer together once they start to break out. In many cases, this leads to a variety of issues, including impacted teeth.
If this is the case for you, your dentist will likely recommend a wisdom tooth extraction. This minor surgery is quite common and has a recovery time ranging from two days up to a week, depending on the situation.
In this article, you will learn about what you should expect and the seven most important care tips you should heed after your wisdom tooth removal.
5 Things to Expect After a Wisdom Tooth Extraction
The extraction of wisdom teeth is a surgery that can be done without the need for hospitalization. This means that you can arrive and leave during the same day of the procedure.
In most cases, you’ll wake up in a dental chair post-surgery. But if it takes you longer to wake up from the sedation, you might be taken to a recovery room until you come to.
To help you prepare, here are five things you should expect after you leave the clinic:
1. Recovery Time
Usually, patients who had their wisdom teeth removed can fully recover within a span of three or four days. However, people with impacted teeth or those with molars that grow at an odd angle may need an entire week to recuperate.
It is also worth noting that the wound from the surgery may not completely heal until after a couple of months. This means you are still susceptible to infection several weeks after the procedure, so you need to take care of yourself and pay attention to any signs of a problem.
2. Activities to Avoid
Since wisdom tooth extraction is considered a surgical procedure, there are certain activities that you should avoid to prevent the stitches or blood clot from getting dislodged. Some examples of these include:
- Strenuous exercise
- Sucking (i.e., drinking from a straw)
3. Pain or Discomfort
It is normal for people who have undergone wisdom tooth extraction to experience pain, bleeding, and a bit of swelling following the procedure. However, you should remember to call your dentist should the bleeding or pain become unbearable or if the symptoms don’t go away a week after the surgery.
4. Numbness and Lockjaw
Since you’ll be receiving anesthetics during the tooth extraction, there is a good chance that you’ll experience numbness in your chin, lip, or tongue immediately following the procedure. This is only temporary.
Stiffness of the jaw – also called trismus or lockjaw – is also normal, as long as it doesn’t exceed a week after the tooth extraction.
5. Blood Clot and Stitches
After the surgery, you’ll have to be careful not to dislodge the blood clot that formed on the site of the tooth extraction for an entire week. The same goes for any stitches that were made.
Just like scabs on other types of wounds, the blood clot that formed over the hole where your wisdom tooth used to be helps keep it free of bacteria, thus preventing infection. If it becomes dislodged, the pain you’re experiencing may worsen, and you’ll be at a higher risk of infection.
7 Post-Extraction Care Tips
The speed of recovery and chances of infection and complications depend on how well you care for your mouth after getting your wisdom tooth removed. Make sure that you heed your dentist’s recommendations and follow these seven post-extraction care tips:
1. Keep the gauze in place as instructed
After the extraction, your dentist would place gauze in the area where the tooth used to be. This is to help mitigate the bleeding.
Make sure to keep that gauze in place for at least 30 minutes. After that, remove and discard it properly.
2. Avoid vigorous rinsing
While it may be tempting, you must absolutely avoid rinsing your mouth vigorously or touching the surgery area. Doing so can lead to the blood clot getting dislodged and causing the wound to bleed again.
3. Take medications as prescribed
After the procedure, your dentist will give you instructions about home medications. This will most likely include pain relievers to ease the discomfort post-surgery.
In case you’re prescribed narcotic pain meds, you should avoid driving, operating machinery, and consuming alcoholic drinks. You might also be prescribed antibiotics for infections, so remember to take them as instructed.
4. Deal with nausea according to the dentist’s recommendation
Nausea or vomiting is also normal after wisdom tooth extraction. If you experience this, do not take anything by mouth within 60 minutes after the surgery.
When the hour is up, gradually drink ginger ale, tea, or coke until your nausea subsides. Once it does, you can take the prescribed medications as instructed.
5. Keep track of your diet
The best dentist should also be able to give you advice on what to eat or drink after a wisdom tooth extraction.
Basically, you should stick to lukewarm or cold drinks to stay hydrated. Drink at least five to six glasses every day, but ditch the straw.
You should also stick to soft foods with high calorie and protein content. Never miss a meal as your body needs a steady supply of nutrients to help ease discomfort and expedite the healing process.
6. Work around the surgery site when performing oral hygiene
It is possible to brush your teeth on the evening of the surgery, but you must be careful not to touch the surgery site.
Rinse your mouth as gently as possible and do it five to six times a day, especially after meals. If there is excess blood, apply a piece of gauze to the wound to absorb it.
7. Know when to call your dentist
The symptoms should subside as the days pass, but in case they don’t, you should know when to call your dentist. Some situations that merit a consultation are:
- Worsening swelling
- Excessive bleeding even when pressure is applied
- Severe, throbbing pain that lasts three to four days after the surgery
- Persistent elevated fever
For Optimum Results
Wisdom tooth extraction is a procedure that is meant to maintain your dental health. However, the procedure will only bear optimum results with proper post-procedure care. Use this article as a guide to expedite your recovery and prevent infection of the surgery site.