If you’re like most people, you’ll have at least one wisdom tooth extracted at some point in your life. Some dentists recommend wisdom tooth removal even if they’re not causing any problems. The prospect is pretty unappealing, but they still may need to be removed for health reasons.
Wisdom tooth removal is a pretty common procedure. However, it’s still important to take care of your teeth after the surgery to recover quickly and minimize the chances of any complications.
If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that you or someone you know has recently had their wisdom teeth removed. Congratulations on making it through surgery! Now comes the hard part – taking care of your teeth and mouth while they heal. This post will give you some tips to help you get through the recovery process. Keep reading to learn more.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, develop in the back corners of the mouth during late adolescence or early adulthood. They serve an important function in chewing and biting and provide additional support for the alignment of your jaw and face as you age, helping you maintain a healthy, strong appearance.
Despite the benefits of wisdom teeth, many people experience problems with them due to factors such as overcrowding of other teeth or a receding jawbone. In many cases, wisdom teeth must be removed to prevent chronic pain, cavities, or infections. However, wisdom teeth removal can be a reasonably straightforward procedure when carried out by a skilled dentist.
Wisdom Teeth Removal: Why Is It Done?
Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure that is carried out for a variety of reasons.
- Wisdom Tooth Impaction
When your third molars are trapped in your gum tissue or jawbone, they become impacted. This can result in a number of oral health issues, including infection, tooth decay, and gum disease. A surgical extraction is frequently the treatment of choice for impacted wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth often grow at an angle or are too large to fit comfortably within the mouth. They can crowd the other teeth in the mouth, leading to pain, discomfort, and decreased chewing function.
- Prevent Complications
Wisdom teeth removal has been shown to reduce the risk of other dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay. As such, the procedure is often recommended by dentists to prevent possible complications associated with wisdom teeth growth.
Whether done as a routine surgery or to address painful symptoms, wisdom teeth removal is an essential part of dental care that can benefit many people.
- Reduce Infection
When a wisdom tooth becomes infected, it causes pain and swelling. Your gums will often feel sore, which prevents proper flossing and brushing. This eventually leads to tooth decay and cavities.
What to Expect After Wisdom Teeth Removal
After wisdom tooth extraction, rest is critical. For a few days to weeks, you may feel discomfort. While you should be able to resume typical activities in a day or two, avoid strenuous daily activities for at least a week.
The side effects associated with wisdom tooth removal include:
Post-operative bleeding is considered normal because of the nature of the procedure. Cover the extraction site with clean gauze to prevent bleeding.
Some discomfort or pain at the extraction site is expected once the anaesthetic has worn off. Of course, how little or how much pain there is depends on how simple or difficult the wisdom tooth removal surgery was. The dentist may also offer prescription medicines for additional pain alleviation if necessary.
- Risk of Infection
The wound left after surgery won’t be totally healed for months, so you could still get an infection weeks after the procedure. Take good care of yourself and keep an eye on any warning signs. Your dentist will prescribe antibiotics for infection.
You may be prescribed anti-inflammatories by your doctor after wisdom tooth surgery if there is swelling. These medications may also help prevent bruising.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Most people fully recover from wisdom teeth surgery in three to four days. Recovery could take longer if your teeth were impacted or came in at an awkward angle. Typically, it can take up to 2 weeks to recover after having your wisdom tooth or teeth removed.
Here is what happens during recovery time:
- First 24 hours post-surgery, a blood clot forms over the wound to prevent excessive bleeding.
- Swelling of the mouth and cheeks should improve in 2-3 days after.
- By the 7th day after surgery, your dentist will remove the stitches.
- During days 7 to 10, jaw stiffness and soreness should wear off.
- Two weeks after surgery, mild bruising should fade.
Keep in mind that the rate of healing is different for everyone. It depends on several factors, such as the patient’s overall health status, age, and complexity of the procedure, among many others.
What Is A Dry Socket?
Dry socket, or alveolar osteitis, is a post-surgical dental condition affecting patients who just had their wisdom teeth removed. The main symptoms of dry socket are severe pain, bad taste in the mouth, and foul odour, caused by an exposed and inflamed wisdom tooth root.
As the name suggests, a dry socket occurs when the blood clot in the empty wisdom tooth socket dries out before healing can occur. This can occur for various reasons, including poor oral hygiene, smoking, or excess movement of the mouth and jaw.
While a dry socket can often be treated with over-the-counter painkillers, it is important to seek treatment from a medical professional if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Left untreated, a dry socket could lead to further complications, such as infection or even nerve damage.
How to Avoid A Dry Socket
Understanding the risk factors for dry sockets and taking steps to reduce these risks can help you avoid this unpleasant and potentially painful condition after wisdom teeth removal.
Here are some ways how to avoid dry sockets:
- Avoid using straws
Straws can cause your blood clot to be dislodged by the suction movement of air and cheek muscles. It is recommended that you don’t use straws for a week following your extraction.
- Don’t Brush The Extraction Site Directly
Rinse your mouth out with a saline solution or an antiseptic mouth rinse instead of brushing the extraction site directly. Brushing your other teeth is fine, but you shouldn’t brush the extraction site, as brushing might disturb the blood clot. Generally, you can start brushing around the area again after about four or five days.
- Don’t Smoke
It is recommended that you refrain from smoking and using any tobacco products. When you smoke or use tobacco, it may interfere with blood flow and healing around the extraction site, which leads to dry sockets.
- Eat the Right Food
Healthy eating is the first step in preventing dry sockets. For those who have had teeth extracted, soft foods that don’t require chewing are ideal.
For the first week following your surgery, you should avoid hard or crunchy foods that require much chewing. These foods can dislodge the blood clot and may get lodged in the area, making eating painful.
Tips on Aftercare of Wisdom Tooth Removal
Ensure proper oral care following surgery by following your doctor’s instructions. This can significantly help make your recovery process smoother.
Some wisdom teeth removal recovery tips include:
- Salt water rinses can help keep your mouth healthy.
- Be gentle when brushing your teeth.
- Be sure to drink enough water.
- Avoid activities, beverages, and food that could possibly dislodge your blood clot.
- Stay off strenuous activities for at least one week.
- Hold an ice pack against your cheek to reduce swelling.
List of Foods to Avoid After Wisdom Tooth Removal
You should avoid certain foods after wisdom tooth removal. These include:
- Acidic foods: Acidic foods can cause stinging at the wound site and induce pain and discomfort. This also includes citrus juices.
- Alcoholic beverages: Alcohol can cause dry sockets by stopping blood clot formation or dislodging it.
- Chewy foods: Chewy foods require you to open your mouth very wide, putting undue pressure on your mouth.
- Crunchy foods and crumbly foods: Hard or small pieces of food can lodge at the site of extraction and disrupt the formation of clots, resulting in infection. This includes grains like quinoa and rice.
- Hard foods: Hard foods such as hard candies may cause the stitches to reopen and slow the healing process.
- Spicy foods: These foods may cause irritation and pain.
What Can I Eat After Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
There are a lot of foods that you can eat even after undergoing wisdom tooth extraction. It is advisable to eat soft foods only for 24 to 48 hours following surgery, such as:
- Cold soups (nothing hot)
- Hummus (but don’t eat with pita or chips)
- Mashed or pureed foods
- Scrambled eggs
Cold beverages and foods are helpful for soothing discomfort. Start introducing solid foods as you feel better. When chewing does not cause pain, gradually increase the amount of solid foods you consume.
If you are experiencing pain while chewing, switch back to eating soft and semi-soft foods again. Most people can return to normal eating within a week or two.
How to Maintain Oral Hygiene Following Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Although wisdom tooth extraction is a fairly typical procedure, you will still need to provide the proper type of aftercare if you want to recover swiftly and thoroughly. Here’s a list of what you can do to ensure proper oral hygiene after undergoing wisdom tooth removal.
- Your dentist may advise you to apply a gauze pad to absorb any blood from the surgery; replace them with another clean gauze pad before they are thoroughly soaked.
- After wisdom tooth extraction surgery, you should rinse your mouth five to six times a day, particularly after meals. Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater instead of tap water.
- Practice proper dental hygiene by gently brushing your teeth 24 hours after the procedure. Be extra careful, especially around the extraction site.
When to Call a Dentist
Extractions may occasionally require additional attention, even when you do everything correctly and follow the wisdom teeth aftercare instructions. Sometimes, pain medications aren’t enough. Call a dentist if:
1. You’re showing signs of an infection.
Bacteria can contaminate the extraction site before it completely heals after you have your tooth extracted. Signs and complications of infection include:
- A bitter or sour taste in your mouth
- A severe discomfort that persists beyond four hours after the extraction
- Bad breath
- Chest pain, cough, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath
- Chills or fever
- Discomfort that occurs after the first few hours of feeling better
- Pain that doesn’t respond to painkillers
- Persistent loss of sensation or numbness
- Pus from the socket
- Sensitivity to extreme temperatures
- Tenderness in your neck, gums, and jaw
2. You develop a dry socket.
Dry sockets occur when the protective blood clot that forms around your socket is dislodged, exposing the delicate nerve endings beneath and revealing the bone. You may experience severe discomfort, and the area will have higher chances of infection due to this.
Getting wisdom tooth extraction is not always fun. However, with the help of a professional dental practice and proper post-extraction aftercare, you may look back on the experience and recall it wasn’t nearly as terrifying or difficult as you thought. By taking proper care of your extraction site, you can ensure that you experience a smooth and easy recovery from wisdom teeth surgery with minimal pain or discomfort.