Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure among people between the ages of 17 to 24. Wisdom teeth typically grow later in life and this might not be able to fit in the mouth. This can cause a great deal of pain, swelling, and jaw ulcers. The recommendation from dentists is usually to have these teeth removed with surgery. However, there are side effects to this kind of surgery and it can cause discomfort to the individual. Here are some tips that you can use to reduce some of the discomfort and fasten the process of recovery.
Managing pain and discomfort
Prescribed pain medications
It is common to experience pain after wisdom teeth removal. To reduce the pain and aid recovery, it can be helpful to use painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol. When taken at regular intervals these painkillers can help manage the pain. However, if this treatment doesn’t work you should consult your dentist or pharmacist to help you find the right medication for you.
Applying ice packs
Swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes, and jaw is usually expected after the surgery. To minimize the swelling, you can apply an ice pack to either side of your face for 20 minutes. You can repeat this intermittently several times within the day however ice packs should not be left on continuously. After 48 hours it’s no longer necessary to use ice packs on your face and instead should switch to heat packs to reduce the pain.1
Salt water is well known for its healing properties as it speeds up the wound healing process, and reduces inflammation and bacterial presence in the mouth. Your dentist might recommend that you avoid rinsing for 24 hours after surgery as it can dislodge the blood clots that are forming which is helping the healing process. However, you can start rinsing with warm salt water the day after the removal 3 to 4 times a day.
Preventing dry sockets
You should avoid using straws as the suction movement of air and cheek can create blood clots away from the socket and dislodge it causing a dry socket. It’s recommended that you avoid using straws for a week after the surgery.2
You should also avoid smoking for at least 48 hours after extraction.
Avoid drinking carbonated beverages
Bubbles in carbonated drinks can loosen blood clots and cause a dry socket. You should wait 48 hours to drink carbonated beverages.1
Eating and drinking recommendations
The day after the surgery, you should only eat soft foods such as yogurt or mashed potatoes. You can try to eat slightly harder food on the second day but if it causes you any pain it's best to return to eating soft foods.
You should drink plenty of fluids.
Avoiding certain foods
There are certain types of food that can irritate the wounds in the mouth as they heal after extraction. Foods that are crunchy, sticky, or spicy can cause pain and irritation. Grains and seeds can get stuck in the wounds and stop the healing process.
Rest and relaxation
Avoiding strenuous activities
You should avoid strenuous activities and exercise for a few days after the extraction, longer if you are still having pain.
Sleeping with your head elevated
After you have your wisdom teeth extracted you should have your head elevated for the first few nights. You can do this by adding an extra pillow to support your head.
Follow up care
Scheduling post operative appointments
Follow-up appointments are scheduled a week after the procedure.
Monitoring the healing progress
After a few days you should notice some of the swelling subsiding. It can take up to 2 weeks to recover from the procedure.
Recovery from wisdom teeth removal can take a few weeks. It is important to have plenty of rest and to follow post-operative instructions from your dentist. If you are experiencing any excess pain or bleeding you should report these symptoms to your dentist as soon as possible.
- Should you have your wisdom teeth removed? In: InformedHealth.org [Internet] [Internet]. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2020 [cited 2023 Sep 12]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279590/
- Sarfi D, Haitami S, Farouk M, Ben Yahya I. Subcutaneous emphysema during mandibular wisdom tooth extraction: Cases series. Annals of Medicine & Surgery [Internet]. 2021 Oct [cited 2023 Sep 12];70. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/10.1016/j.amsu.2021.103039