Though the name may imply a certain air of importance, wisdom teeth aren’t always good for oral health. Your third set of molars, which usually appear between ages 17-21, don’t always grow incorrectly because there’s simply not enough room in your mouth. And even if your wisdom teeth do come in properly, they can be difficult to clean, which may lead to cavities, gum disease, and tooth pain.
About 95% of tooth extractions performed in the United States among patients ages 16-21 involve the removal of wisdom teeth, according to an April 2014 clinical study published in the American Journal of Public Health. At Wedgewood Dental in Rolla and Salem, Missouri, our experienced dentist, Linda K. Westmoreland, DDS, specializes in wisdom tooth extraction.
Though the procedure may be common, we provide specific instructions on how to care for your mouth and the extraction site following the removal of your wisdom teeth to prevent any unnecessary complications.
What to expect
You just had a tooth or more removed from your mouth and you’re likely to experience some side effects. The degree of your side effects may depend on the complexity of your tooth extraction. Some wisdom teeth can be removed by simply plucking it out of the socket, while others may require piece-by-piece dismantling for removal.
You may experience bleeding up to a day after your wisdom tooth extraction. We recommend you use gauze to help manage the bleeding and avoid excessive spitting, as it may dislodge the blood clot forming over your now-empty socket.
This blood clot is essential to the healing process and protects the bone and nerves underneath. If your blood clot dissolves or dislodges, you may experience severe pain and delayed healing. Loss of the blood clot may also increase your risk of developing a jawbone infection.
Pain, bruising, and swelling are also common side effects of wisdom tooth extraction. You may be able to manage these symptoms with over-the-counter pain medication and ice packs. The good news is, these side effects usually disappear within a few days.
Eating and drinking
When it comes to wisdom tooth extraction, you may be most worried about what you’re going to eat and drink. Most importantly, you want to drink plenty of nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages for the first 24 hours after your tooth extraction.
Water is your best choice, but you can also drink juice, milk, smoothies, and protein shakes. Don’t drink any of these beverages through a straw. The suction action created when sucking on a straw may dislodge the blood clot.
You also want to stick with soft foods for up to 48 hours, sometimes longer depending on your healing process. Good options include broth, blended soups, blended yogurt, plain ice cream, pudding, mashed potatoes, and applesauce (or other pureed fruits).
As your mouth heals, you may begin to add semi-soft foods to your diet, such as soft-cooked vegetables, bananas, eggs, stewed meat, pasta, and rice. Most people can go back to their usual diet within a week after surgery.
Modifying your routine
Anesthesia is often used for wisdom tooth extraction so you’re going to need to arrange a ride home after your procedure, and you should expect to spend the rest of the day resting. Though you may be able to resume many of your usual activities by the following day, including going back to work, we recommend you avoid any strenuous activities for up to a week following your wisdom tooth extraction.
Keeping your mouth clean
During the first 24 hours after your tooth extraction, we recommend you keep your mouth clean with mouthwash and refrain from brushing your teeth. When you do resume toothbrushing, be gentle around the site of your extraction. This not only prevents any unnecessary pain and discomfort, but this also protects the all-important blood clot.
Smoking cigarettes may also dislodge the blood clot and affect the healing process. We recommend you avoid smoking cigarettes for 72 hours or longer to prevent any unnecessary complications.
Though you may need to make some modifications to your diet and routine following wisdom tooth extraction, the procedure offers long-term benefits to your oral health.
To schedule a consultation with the experienced dental team at Wedgewood Dental to learn more about wisdom teeth extraction, call the office nearest you or click the online booking button.