Most Americans will have their wisdom teeth removed at some point in their life. If it’s time to have yours removed, knowing what you’ll need to be comfortable can help you plan for a smooth recovery. Your oral surgeon will send you home with plenty of instructions after your wisdom tooth extraction, but these tips will help you get ready ahead of time.
Discomfort and Bleeding
Discomfort and bleeding are normal part of wisdom tooth extraction, but there are a few things you can do to help. You’ll likely be prescribed pain management medication, anti-inflammatories and an antibiotic. It’s important to take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed. If you stop early, you risk infection even if you feel like you’re healing well.
Ice is often the most helpful way to dull swelling, bruising and discomfort for the first two days after surgery. Apply an ice pack to your jaw for 10 to 20 minutes, once an hour. Don’t apply ice for longer periods. Over-icing slows healing and can damage the skin.
Immediately after surgery, your surgeon will tell you to bite down on a gauze pad for 30 to 60 minutes to stop the bleeding. Maintain continuous, firm pressure like you would on a cut. You may need to replace the gauze a few times before the bleeding slows.
Some people have trouble stemming the bleeding. If this is the case, switch out the gauze pad for a cold, wet black tea bag. Black tea is an astringent that encourages blood vessels to constrict. If considerable bleeding persists for several hours, contact our office.
It’s normal for the sockets ooze blood for 24 to 48 hours after extraction. You can bite on gauze to help control it. If you experience significant bleeding at any point, contact our office.
Avoiding Dry Socket
After your wisdom tooth extraction, the socket where your tooth used to be will need time to fill in. Your body will form blood clots that protect the exposed bone and nerve tissue in the socket while you heal. In a small percentage of patients, about 5% or fewer, the blood clots can dislodge or dissolve. This called dry socket, a condition that causes considerable pain and risks infection.
Monitoring your habits can help you avoid dry socket:
- Avoid all sucking motions, including using straws, smoking or vaping and eating hard candies
- Do not swish when you brush your teeth, tilting your head back and forth instead
- Do not spit, instead tilting forward to allow liquid to run out of your mouth
- Avoid tobacco products, including cigarettes and dip, for as long as possible
- Avoid alcohol, including beverages and alcohol-based mouthwashes
- Maintain proper oral hygiene
If you suspect you have dry socket, contact us immediately.
Maintaining a Healthy Mouth
It’s important to continue brushing your teeth after your extraction. The rest of your teeth still need proper care, and good oral hygiene staves off infection and dry socket. Your surgeon will likely recommend you skip brushing your teeth for the first 24 hours after extraction. Afterwards, avoid brushing near the extraction site for at least three days.
It’s critical to avoid typical “swish and spit” rinsing methods while your mouth heals. Instead, tilt your head back and forth to wash toothpaste foam from your mouth. Tilt forward over the sink and allow the liquid to run out of your mouth.
Keeping food out of the sockets will also help prevent discomfort and infection. Rinse your mouth out after every meal or snack.
Eating and Drinking
For the first day after surgery, choose cold foods and drinks and avoid fizzy drinks. Heat and fizz can irritate the healing area. Your surgeon may also recommend that you avoid caffeine. Drink plenty of water throughout your recovery period. Hydration is important for wound healing.
You’ll want to avoid crunchy, chewy, spicy and acidic foods for at least a week after surgery. These foods will irritate your surgical sites. You’ll also want to avoid foods like popcorn, sesame seeds, rice and ice cream mix-ins that can easily get stuck in your open sockets.
Instead, stick with soft foods that are easy to eat and gentle on your surgical sites. Your surgeon will likely recommend you stay on a soft foods diet for seven to fourteen days.
Some of our favorite post-extraction foods are:
- Ice cream
- Scrambled eggs
- Mashed potatoes
Wisdom tooth extraction is a minor surgery, and proper care can help recovery go by in a timely manner. If you have questions about your procedure, feel free to contact Desert Valley Oral Surgery today.