Recovering from Wisdom Tooth Extraction: What to Expect

Oral surgeons extract approximately 10 million wisdom teeth each year. This is an outpatient procedure, and even though you go home the same day to recover, it can take a week or so for your mouth to heal.

Dr. Linda K. Westmoreland is a skilled dentist and oral surgeon who performs a wide range of cosmetic and general procedures at Wedgewood Dental. She shares these insights into wisdom tooth extraction so you know what to expect after your oral surgery.

Preparing for your procedure

Your extraction could involve removing just one or all four wisdom teeth. And each extraction is unique because of the position of the tooth.

These molars are the very last of your permanent teeth to appear, typically between ages 17 and 25. Because you already have all of your other teeth, there’s often very little room left in your jaw by the time they make an appearance.

As a result, some remain impacted — only coming through the gum a little or not at all. At other times, wisdom teeth grow in at an angle. 

All of these factors play a role in your procedure and whether you may need stitches to close your surgical incisions afterward. In most cases, Dr. Westmoreland uses IV sedation, or “conscious sedation,” to ensure you don’t feel anything and are completely relaxed during your surgery; you may fall asleep.

The first 24 hours

After the sedative wears off, you probably won’t feel much because of the anesthesia. However, it’s common to have some swelling, pain, and blood in your mouth. Dr. Westmoreland recommends applying an ice pack to your face and provides detailed post-op instructions on the best medications to control pain and swelling.

You can eat very soft foods like yogurt or applesauce on the same day as your procedure, but it’s essential to avoid eating anything chewy, hot, hard, or spicy because they could irritate your incision or get lodged in the tooth socket. You also shouldn’t smoke, drink alcohol or caffeine, or use a straw when drinking because they put your recovery at risk.

Plan to spend the remainder of the day resting to avoid disrupting the blood clot on your socket. During the first 24 hours, you shouldn’t brush, rinse your mouth, use mouthwash, or spit.

The first 2 to 3 days

You can resume most regular activity the day after your surgery, but you should continue avoiding any activities that could dislodge the stitches or blood clot over your wound. Examples of these include spitting, smoking, using a straw, or engaging in strenuous exercise.

By the third day, you should feel much better and notice swelling going away. However, if you had impacted wisdom teeth or any tooth coming through your gum at an awkward angle, it can take a little longer to improve.

Even if your mouth feels better, you should still avoid chewy, hard, sticky, or spicy foods to prevent damage to the wounds in your mouth. Instead, eat soft or liquid foods, such as:

Continue to avoid smoking and smokeless tobacco products, which can delay the healing process. It’s also important to be very gentle around your surgical wounds while brushing and rinsing your mouth during this time.

The first 7 to 14 days

If you had stitches, they get removed after a week. After the tenth day, signs of soreness or stiffness in your jaw should disappear, and bruising on your face should fade.

If you didn’t have stitches and haven’t had any complications, you probably won’t need a follow-up appointment as your mouth continues to heal. However, you should contact our office if you have any persistent symptoms, such as:

These issues can indicate signs of infection, nerve damage, or other complications.

Are you looking for an expert to perform your wisdom tooth extraction? Contact Wedgewood Dental to schedule a consultation at one of our convenient locations Rolla or Salem, Missouri.

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