- Wisdom Teeth Removal / Impacted Tooth Extraction
- Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?
- How do I prepare for my wisdom teeth extraction?
- During the procedure of wisdom teeth removal
- After the procedure of wisdom teeth removal
- The different types of wisdom tooth impactions and what they mean
- FAQ about wisdom teeth removal
After the procedure of wisdom teeth removal
If an anaesthetist placed you under general or sedation anaesthesia, you will be taken into a recovery room once the procedure is over, in this room your vitals will be monitored as you will be prompted to slowly wake up. Once a nurse or specialist deems you stable and ready, you will then be taken to a hospital room where your oral surgeon is likely to meet you to discuss how the surgery went. If you were given a local anaesthetic, then your recovery will take place in a dental chair and be brief.
As you begin to heal from the surgery, it is advised that you follow your dentist or oral surgeon’s advice on the following:
- Bleeding – There may be some blood oozing on the first day after your surgery. You will taste this in your mouth and it is advised that you avoid excessively spitting this out so as to not dislodge or prevent a blood clot from forming on the socket. If your surgeon placed gauze over the socket then this will need to be replaced according to his or her instructions.
- Managing pain – Your dentist or oral surgeon may prescribe painkillers, these will be particularly helpful in easing any pain, especially if bone was removed. Your specialist is likely to give you pain medication such as Vicodin (Hydrocodone) and Motrin (Ibuprofen). You may also be able to manage any pain with over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) amongst others. You may also be given a cold pack or have one at home, holding this softly against your jaw can help with pain management.
This pain will begin to subside within the recovery period of three to four days. However, this will depend on the extent of the surgery conducted.
- Bruising and swelling – As mentioned, use a cold pack to help with any bruising and swelling. If you suffer from bruising, this will take a number of days to disappear. People often note that they resemble a ‘chipmunk’ because of their swollen cheeks, this swelling will subside within a few days, although it is important to bear in mind that swelling can last for as long as two weeks for some.
- Partaking in activities – It is advised that you plan on resting for the duration of the day after the surgery. Normal activities such as walking and making yourself food can be resumed the following day. However, you will need to avoid all forms of strenuous activity for a week or more (as per your doctor’s instructions).
- Exercising - A number of dental surgeons will recommend that you hold off on physical exercise (gym and other forms) for as long as ten days after surgery. There are some signs you can look out for to know that it is safe to exercise again such as cessation of bleeding, reduction in swelling and the return of an overall feeling of wellness. However, take note of lightheadedness when exercising as you may have been eating less during your time of healing. If you experience any dizziness or pain when exercising then stop. It is advised that you exercise at a lower intensity until your normal diet of solid foods is in place and your energy levels have returned. A general rule of thumb is to wait until you have finished your prescription pain medications as this will give you some indication regarding your current pain levels which may have previously been masked by the medication.
- Drinking liquids – Your oral surgeon will advise you to drink larger amounts of water than you are used to aid in hydrating you after surgery. Steer clear of any alcoholic, carbonated, caffeinated or hot drinks for the first day (24 hours) after surgery. Speak to your dentist about drinking from a straw as this is sometimes not recommended as the sucking motion associated with straws can dislodge blood clots. You will also need to avoid hot foods and beverages for the first few days as these may be able to contribute to swelling and irritate the surgery site.
- Eating – You will only be allowed to eat soft foods such as custard, yoghurt and jelly for the initial 24 hours after surgery. You can start eating more semi-soft foods once you are able to tolerate these. Eating will be difficult for the first few days and you should stock up on foods you can eat before the procedure. Remember to chew away from the surgical sites. Try to not miss a meal as nourishment is vital for healing. Avoid any spicy or hot foods as these may agitate the wound site. A meal replacement shake may be recommended if you feel that you cannot eat as this can help to provide the calories and nutrients your body requires.
- Cleaning the mouth – Rather than brushing your teeth, you will need to rinse with a mouthwash for the first 24 hours after the surgery. You should not vigorously rinse your mouth in the first 24 hours. The day after surgery you will need to rinse your mouth every time you eat. You can use a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. You will usually be able to return to brushing your teeth the day after surgery, but be mindful to do so gently. You may have to rinse your mouth after meals for the first week if you cannot tolerate brushing.
- Stop using tobacco products – You will not be permitted to smoke for the first 72 hours after the surgery, and it is best if you wait longer. Chewing tobacco will not be allowed for a week or more. Tobacco products will delay healing after surgery and can increase your risks of any complications developing.
- Dealing with the stitches – Your stitches will likely dissolve completely within a week or two. If you have the type of stitches that need to be removed, then your surgeon will schedule an appointment to do so. Some of the dissolvable stitches may come out when you are eating or drinking and you may be able to feel them. This is normal but it is advised that you do not touch the wound or stitches with your hands or tongue as this can agitate the area and slow healing process.
When to call your oral surgeon or dentist
You will need to contact your oral surgeon or dentist if you suffer from one or more of the below symptoms as these may indicate nerve damage, infection or other severe complications:
- Excessive bleeding that persists for longer than 24 hours and cannot be stopped with gauze.
**My Med Memo – Some bleeding after surgery is to be expected. A large amount of bleeding (granted it is not an emergency situation) can be controlled by first rinsing your mouth and then placing a pad of gauze or a damp tea bag on the wound site and biting down on this firmly with a constant pressure for about 30 minutes. A tea bag is beneficial in reducing bleeding as tea contains tannic acid (a type of tannin) which aids in the promotion of a blood clot forming through contracting the blood vessels.
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Swelling that progresses after two or three days
- Severe pain that is not relieved by any of your prescribed medications for pain
- Pus present in and/or being discharged at the surgical site
- Pus or blood in your nasal discharge
- Persistent loss of feeling or numbness
Risks for having wisdom teeth removed
The majority of wisdom teeth removals will not result in any complications long-term. However, the extraction of wisdom teeth will often require a specific surgical approach which involves the specialist cutting through your gum tissue and removing the bone. After the teeth and bone have been removed, there will be a socket left behind, this is known as a surgical wound. Some complications that rarely occur may include:
- Infection forming in the socket as a result of trapped food or bacteria
- Damage done to surrounding teeth, jawbone, sinuses or nerves
- Painful and dry socket, or the bone being exposed when the blood clot (post-surgery) is lost
How long does it take to recover from a wisdom teeth extraction?
Healing will take between ten and 14 days, you can return to school or work three or four days after the operation. But it will depend on how you are feeling and your level of pain and swelling. Some people prefer to not return to school or work until the swelling has gone down completely.