You’re positive you are done losing teeth. Then, suddenly, your dentist tells you that your wisdom teeth need to go. Unlike your baby teeth, though, when your wisdom teeth come out, you have to put in some effort to heal.
The recovery process is somewhat different for everyone. For example, how your extraction went and your post-surgery care both play big roles in your recovery time. Most people recover from a wisdom tooth extraction in about two weeks. However, there are steps you can take to heal faster.
Our dental clinic has a wealth of knowledge on post-oral surgery care. Read below for 8 tips on faster recovery from the Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery team.
Apply ice to the swelling
The aftermath of getting a tooth pulled can be both painful and somewhat unsightly. You may notice some bruising and discomfort in your cheek or jaw area. Ice is great at reducing pain and bringing down swelling.
To avoid frostbite, never apply ice directly to your skin. You may not know if you’re feeling numb because the ice is providing relief or because it has been on for too long. Instead, wrap ice in a towel and remove it every 15 minutes.
Use a hot compress
Try a hot compress for pain and swelling if you don’t have ice on hand. Just like the ice pack, though, make sure to alternate between 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off.
The heat will also reduce stiffness in the jaw and cheek by bringing more blood to the area and minimizing swelling. Hot water bottles or heating pads work best, but a hot damp towel can be effective. Aim for around 115°F (46°C), but always test and adjust for your comfort.
After an oral procedure like a tooth removal, it’s best to avoid most drinks for a day or two. Obviously, you can drink water to stay hydrated, but other drinks will interfere with healing.
No matter what you drink after surgery, do not use a straw. A blood clot must form for the wound to heal correctly and straws can literally suck it out.
See the following list for when you can enjoy your favourite drinks without negatively impacting healing:
- Pop: 48 hours+. The bubbles in pop and other carbonated beverages can dislodge the forming blood clot.
- Coffee: 24-48 hours: Go for iced coffee if you can’t wait this long without your daily cup. Hot drinks can cause pain and aggravate the healing site.
- Alcohol: 48 hours+. Mixing alcohol and pain medications can be extremely dangerous. Waiting until your pain meds are finished is our recommendation.
- Acidic Drinks: 1 week+. Acidic drinks like orange juice or lemonade will irritate wounds and prevent healing. Avoid anything high in citric acid.
Eat soft foods
Now that you know what drinks you can have, let’s discuss food options. Your mouth and jawbone will likely be sore in the days following your procedure, but it’s important to eat. You can’t heal properly without adequate fuel.
Choosing soft foods will minimize pain while chewing, and won’t disrupt stitches or blood clots. Avoid small foods like nuts and seeds that can get stuck in sockets. Puree some of your favourite foods, or choose some from the list below.
- Blended soups/broth (cooled)
- Scrambled eggs
- Apple sauce
Apply pressure inside your mouth
Bleeding typically stops within 4 hours after surgery but can last for up to 24 hours. Noticing oozing or spot bleeding in the two weeks after surgery is also completely normal. Applying moderate pressure with a gauze pad should be enough to stop bleeding.
Simply roll up and soak a piece of gauze, and place it over the extraction site. Bite down gently on the gauze pad for 45 minutes to an hour. Your dental clinic should provide you with enough gauze, but you can use a teabag if you’re running low.
Soak a tea bag in hot water, squeeze out excess, wrap in gauze, and apply for 20-30 minutes. The tannins in black tea make blood coagulate (it changes to a semi-solid state), which stops bleeding. However, call our office if the bleeding is severe.
Follow directions for medications
This may sound easy, but it’s something that patients struggle with most often. Some patients have higher pain tolerance and can tough it out with over-the-counter pain meds like Advil. If that’s you, then kudos; follow the bottle directions until your pain subsides. However, other patients may need prescription pain medications. Be sure to follow your dentist’s directions for stronger painkillers.
Antibiotics are a whole different story. They are prescription-only – there’s no over-the-counter option – so the only directions you should be following are from your dentist. The biggest issue we see when patients take antibiotics is not finishing them! Follow your dentist’s orders and complete the prescribed dose. Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics if you stop taking them too soon.
Maintain oral care once recommended
Maintaining good oral care habits is essential for good oral health. It’s even more essential after wisdom tooth removal. However, oral care after oral surgery is a bit different than your everyday routine. Check out our tips below.
- Brushing: Some dentists allow very light brushing the night after surgery, but others will say wait a day. Try returning to consistent brushing as soon as you can without discomfort. Be gentle when brushing near the extraction site.
- Mouth Rinse*: Your regular mouthwash is a no-go after wisdom tooth removal. The day after your surgery, you can rinse with warm saltwater. Do this 3-5 times a day or after every meal.
- Flossing: You can start flossing again the day after surgery, but again, be careful near where your teeth were pulled.
*Forcefully spitting out water or toothpaste after wisdom tooth removal may create dry sockets. Instead, let liquids fall out of your mouth and into the sink so you don’t disrupt forming clots.
Rest is essential for recovery. Whether you’re recovering from strenuous exercise, injury, or oral surgery, our bodies do most of our healing while we sleep.
Getting adequate sleep after surgery may be difficult in the first few days because of pain. Following your dentist’s advice for painkillers can help. Elevate your head with a pillow or two to reduce swelling when you sleep.
To learn more about wisdom tooth extraction, call Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery at 905-528-8959 or click here to email us!