Do's and Don'ts After Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Do’s and Don’ts After Wisdom Tooth Extraction

April 29, 2024

Wisdom teeth, those mysterious and often troublesome third molars, can erupt anytime between your late teens and mid-20s. Unfortunately, sometimes there just isn’t enough space in your jaw for these latecomers, leading to impaction, pain, and the need for extraction. While the thought of wisdom teeth removal might raise some anxieties, a successful recovery hinges on following your dentist’s aftercare instructions.

This blog post, brought to you by your trusted dentist in Riverside, California, will be your guide to navigating the post-extraction phase. We’ll delve into essential Do’s and Don’ts after wisdom tooth extraction.

After Your Wisdom Teeth Extraction, Do:

1. Embrace the Power of Rest:

Following wisdom teeth removal, your body needs all its resources dedicated to healing. Plan to take at least 2-3 days off work or school, prioritizing rest and relaxation. Steer clear of vigorous activities that might exacerbate pain or lead to increased bleeding.

2. Ice, Ice

Swelling is a common post-operative symptom. To minimize it, apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel to your cheek near the extraction site for 15-minute intervals with 20-minute breaks in between. This should be done consistently for the first 24-48 hours.

3. Manage Discomfort with Medication:

Your dentist will likely prescribe pain medication to help manage any discomfort you experience after the surgery. Take these medications exactly as directed, and don’t hesitate to contact your dentist if the pain seems excessive.

4. Keep it Cool (and Clean):

Once the initial 24 hours have passed, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times a day. This helps remove food particles and promotes healing. Mix half a teaspoon of table salt into a glass of warm water and gently swish for 30 seconds before spitting.

5. Soft Food is Your Friend:

For the first few days after surgery, stick to a soft food diet. Think mashed potatoes, yogurt, applesauce, and soups. Avoid anything hard, crunchy, chewy, spicy, or too hot, as these can irritate the extraction site and hinder healing.

6. Elevate Your Head:

While sleeping or resting, prop yourself up with extra pillows to elevate your head above your heart. This helps reduce swelling and promotes drainage.

7. Gentle Does It with Oral Hygiene:

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for preventing infection. However, be gentle! Starting 24 hours after surgery, brush your teeth as usual, but avoid brushing directly on the extraction sites. You can resume flossing carefully after a few days, being mindful of the surgical area.

8. Jaw Exercises for a Speedy Recovery:

Your dentist might recommend gentle jaw exercises to prevent stiffness and promote healing. These exercises typically involve slowly opening and closing your mouth. Follow your dentist’s specific instructions regarding frequency and duration.

After Your Wisdom Teeth Extraction, Don’t:

1. Forget the Gauze:

Following surgery, you might be given gauze pads to bite on to control bleeding. Leave the gauze in place for about 30 minutes, or as instructed by your dentist. Don’t be alarmed if there’s some mild bleeding – this is normal.

2. Become a Straw Enthusiast:

The sucking action associated with using straws can dislodge the blood clot that forms at the extraction site. This clot is vital for healing and preventing a painful condition called dry socket. Avoid using straws for at least a week after surgery.

3. Engage in Strenuous Activity:

Give your body the rest it needs to heal. Avoid strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, or anything that could increase your heart rate and blood pressure for at least a few days after surgery.

4. Smoke or Vape:

Smoking and vaping can significantly slow down healing and increase the risk of infection. Avoid these activities for at least a week after surgery, or ideally, quit altogether for optimal oral health.

5. Become a Master Chef:

Those tempting potato chips, popcorn, and hard candies will have to wait! Stick to your soft food diet for at least the first 3-5 days. This allows the extraction site to heal properly without irritation.

6. Forget the Hot (and Cold) Stuff:

Extreme temperatures can irritate the extraction site and delay healing. Avoid very hot or very cold beverages and food for the first few days.

7. Become a Party Animal (with Alcohol):

Alcohol can interact with your pain medication and impede healing. Additionally, the dehydrating effects of alcohol can further irritate the extraction site. It’s best to abstain from alcohol for at least 24-48 hours after surgery.

8. Ignore Unusual Symptoms:

While some discomfort and swelling are normal following wisdom tooth extraction, be mindful of any unusual or worsening symptoms. These could include:

  • Intense and enduring pain that does not alleviate with medication
  • Excessive bleeding that doesn’t subside
  • Fever or chills
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the extraction site
  • Difficulty swallowing

What Else Should I Know About Wisdom Teeth Extraction?

  • Recovery Timeline: The initial recovery period typically lasts about 3-4 days, during which you may experience some discomfort, swelling, and mild bleeding. However, complete healing can take several weeks.
  • Signs of Complications: Be vigilant for signs of complications such as severe pain, excessive bleeding, persistent swelling, fever, or foul odor and taste in the mouth. Contact your dentist immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
  • Dry Socket Prevention: Dry socket, a painful condition that occurs when the blood clot dislodges prematurely, can prolong the healing process. To prevent dry socket, avoid smoking, using straws, and vigorous rinsing or spitting for the first few days after the extraction.
  • Patient Education and Support: Your dentist and dental team are valuable resources for information, guidance, and support throughout the recovery process. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns about your wisdom tooth extraction or post-operative care.

Call to Schedule Your Wisdom Teeth Extraction Today

If you’re experiencing wisdom tooth pain or discomfort, don’t delay seeking treatment. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Andrew Choi at Inland Choice Dental in Riverside to discuss your options for wisdom tooth extraction. Remember to follow these essential do’s and don’ts after the procedure to ensure a smooth and successful recovery. Your oral health is our priority!