Like going to your high school prom or getting your driver’s license, wisdom tooth extraction is a rite of passage for many people, especially teens.
Although not everyone develops wisdom teeth, those who do will typically see them come in between the ages of 17-21. And it’s typically better to have them taken out before the age of 20 when the roots haven’t yet fully developed.
Why? Not only is it easier to recover when you get them removed at a younger age, but it also makes the removal process easier, too.
No matter your age, your dentist may suggest having your wisdom teeth removed for a number of reasons — including avoiding overcrowded teeth, repeated infection, sinus issues, or damage to nearby teeth.
While getting your wisdom teeth removed at Access Health Dental is always a smooth and comfortable experience, it’s critical that you follow your dentist’s wisdom tooth extraction recovery plan to help keep your teeth safe and free from infection. Improper wisdom teeth removal aftercare can lead to complications like fever, severe pain, trouble swallowing or breathing, or dry sockets.
Here are the most important do’s and don’ts after wisdom tooth extraction to help ensure a quick and comfortable recovery.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Recovery — The Do’s
Plan Ahead for Wisdom Teeth Extraction
Preparing for your wisdom teeth removal is just as important as your routine after the procedure. Make sure you’ve locked down the following basics ahead of your appointment.
- Talk to your surgeon about any questions or concerns you have regarding the wisdom teeth removal healing process. This will give you a solid idea of what you can expect from the moment you begin anesthesia to the time you head home.
- Understand the costs of your surgery, as well as whether or not your insurance will cover any of it. If you aren’t sure, discuss it with your insurance provider and your oral surgeon or dentist ahead of time.
- Make a list of and purchase any food or drinks you’ll need at home. Wisdom teeth extraction recovery calls for a very specific diet, so make sure you’ve consulted with your surgeon on their recommendations for you.
- Have a plan of action for when you head home — decide where you’ll rest, gather comfy blankets, and have enough pillows available to keep your head propped. Propping your head is especially helpful, as it will prevent swelling, and may even speed up your recovery.
- Pick up any prescribed or over-the-counter medicine as suggested by your surgeon prior to your wisdom tooth removal. It’s also important to let the team performing your procedure know of any other medications you’re taking beforehand as well.
- Choose an outfit that you’ll wear the day of. Since you won’t need to change clothes for your wisdom tooth removal, loose-fitting options like comfortable button-ups and zip-up tops are ideal.
Tend to Your Extraction Site
Removing a wisdom tooth requires proper care and attention. Make sure that you:
- Keep your mouth clean after wisdom teeth removal. Your dentist may provide salt rinses or a specific regimen for you to follow to prevent infection and to keep dry sockets from forming.
- If salt water rinses are offered to you as part of your recovery routine, make sure that you use them 24 hours after your procedure, or as instructed by your oral surgeon. Your surgeon may also recommend that you do them in between meals to keep your mouth free of infection.
- Apply ice packs to your face to help reduce pain and swelling.
- It’s important that you keep any bleeding under control. While bleeding is normal after your surgery, a blood clot should form at the extraction site after the first few hours.
- Should the bleeding continue after the first few hours, it’s necessary that you contact your surgeon, as it may be an indicator of more serious complications like stitches coming out, or your extraction site not healing correctly.
What About Dry Sockets?
After your procedure, a blood clot will form at the extraction site. But if a clot fails to form, you may develop a dry socket. Dry sockets after your wisdom teeth removal can happen, but it’s important that you let your dentist know about them forming right away.
The best way to avoid developing dry sockets is by preventing them before they start. Many of the things you’ll do before your procedure can help you avoid them altogether.
If you feel a dry socket starting to develop, avoid touching the socket with your fingers or tongue and make sure you follow your post-surgery instructions as laid out by your dentist.
Symptoms of dry sockets after wisdom teeth extraction can include:
- A dry-looking opening instead of a dark blood clot where the tooth was removed
- Visible bone where the tooth was removed
- Pain that starts 2 days after your extraction
- Bad breath
- An unpleasant taste and smell from inside your mouth
Fortunately, there are at-home remedies that may offer some relief to dry sockets, including:
- Aspirin or ibuprofen for pain
- Warm salt water rinses
- Cold and heat therapy
- Clove oil
- Black tea bags
- Tea tree oil
- Oregano oil
- Chamomile tea
It’s important to consult with your oral surgeon performing your wisdom tooth removal before trying any of these at-home methods. Stay in close communication about any complications with dry sockets so your dentist will be able to best guide you to relief.
Eat and Drink the Right Things During Wisdom Tooth Removal Recovery
- Apple sauce
- Broths and soups
- Mashed potatoes
- Mashed banana
- Mashed pumpkin
- Soft noodles
- Coconut Water
- Ice cream
Many of the food options that are good for wisdom teeth removal have a purpose that may help aid your recovery — cold foods can help eliminate and relieve discomfort and pain.
Coconut water is full of electrolytes and other nutrients. And cold soups, broths, and smoothies are loaded with nutrients that can help expedite your healing.
Your surgeon will likely advise you to ease into eating solid foods again and may suggest gradually adding solid foods like eggs, oatmeal, and soft bread back into your diet a few days, or even up to a week, after your procedure.
Eating solid foods too early into healing can lead to complications like food getting stuck in the socket, disrupting blood clots, and causing further irritation to the extraction site.
Let Your Doctor Know if You Experience Any Complications
Although wisdom tooth complications are very rare, they can happen. Be aware of the things that are expected to happen over the timeline of an average wisdom teeth removal, and contact your dentist if you experience any complications not listed.
If left unaddressed, these complications can lead to more serious health issues like nerve damage, allergic reaction, dry sockets, or other, more severe infections. Smoking, oral contraceptives, and not following the recovery plan laid out by your surgeon can lead to these complications and delay the healing process.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Recovery — The Don’ts:
DON’T Drink Alcohol, Coffee, Hot Drinks, or Soda
It’s important to avoid these beverages after your wisdom teeth removal, as they each have a negative impact on the healing process:
- Drinking alcohol can cause irritation to the extraction site, and may negatively interfere with your prescribed pain medication.
- Coffee is not only acidic and can lead to inflammation, but it and other hot drinks can burn the extraction site.
- Soda is also very acidic, and the carbonation can damage the clot and cause other complications.
- It’s best to stick to water as much as possible during the healing process, to not only keep you hydrated but to avoid any negative side effects or preventable inflammation.
DON’T Eat Spicy, Acidic, or Small Foods
- Foods that are spicy and acidic are a no-no after you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed, as they may further irritate and cause pain to the extraction site.
- Small foods like quinoa, rice, and seeds can easily get caught in exposed sockets.
- Chips, nuts, and tough foods like jerky can cause your stitches to re-open.
- While these foods are tempting, your dentist will likely discuss the importance of sticking to your wisdom teeth removal recovery nutrition plan, including when it’s okay to re-introduce these specific foods back into your diet.
DON’T Return to your Normal Activities Right Away
Wisdom teeth removal can throw a wrench in your everyday routine, but it’s important to remember that avoiding certain things is crucial to healing properly.
Avoid brushing your teeth after your procedure, and instead, use salt rinses for the first 24 hours after your wisdom tooth extraction to keep your mouth clean.
Smoking and vaping should be completely avoided for 72 hours. You can return to most normal activities the day after your procedure, but make sure to avoid strenuous activity, as it can cause the blood clots to re-open and prevent successful healing.
DON’T Fret — Access Health Dental is Here for You!
It’s normal to have questions or concerns that you want to discuss with your dentist after surgery. If you’re experiencing any symptoms or complications above, stay in communication with your surgeon or dentist as much as possible, as they will be your first best source for easing your mind and offering relief.
From pre-removal questions to post-surgery recovery, Access Health Dental is here to ensure you feel confident, safe, and comfortable every step of the way.
If you have any concerns about the wisdom teeth recovery process or think you may be experiencing a dental health emergency, don’t wait to call us today.