Recovering After Wisdom Teeth Removal


Wisdom teeth, the third molars on each side of the upper and lower jaw, sometimes require removal for orthodontic reseans or other dental problems. Since they are the last set of teeth to erupt, they typically appear when an individual reaches their late teens or their early 20s. Perhaps most concerning of all is when wisdom teeth only emerge partially or if they are impacted. Other concerns include overly crowded wisdom teeth as well as the pain associated with misaligned wisdom teeth and the possibility of infection.

 Wisdom teeth are in most cases the last teeth to erupt. This usually occurs at around the age of 17 to 25.  Third molars may remain completely impacted.  X-rays is useful in detecting damage to other teeth or the jawbone when wisdom teeth are impacted. 

We can offer specifics about when it is best to have wisdom teeth removed. However, in most cases, when these teeth are removed before the age of 20, they have tooth roots that are much less developed, resulting in fewer complications. Most dental professionals recommend having wisdom teeth removed somewhere between the age of 16 and 18. The first step is first to be evaluated by your oral surgeon to see if a tooth extraction is indeed necessary.

The Dental SurgeryProcedure And The Healing Process

Patients having wisdom teeth removed should understand that there is some level of discomfort and swelling that is associated with any oral surgery. This is a normal part of the procedure and the healing process. It is important to note that wisdom teeth should be extracted if it appears that they will present a problem later on down the road. If there is not enough room remaining on the jaw for the wisdom teeth to grow in normally, it is best to have them removed.

When crowding of wisdom teeth occurs, they can come in at an angle, or they may not emerge fully. Ultimately, oral health-related problems such as pain and infection could result. Impacted wisdom teeth can damage other surrounding healthy teeth and may cause severe disease and other dental problems. In most cases, wisdom tooth removal is an outpatient procedure. While any tooth extraction is considered major surgery, it is often done under general or local anesthesia in an outpatient environment.

Following surgery, patients are sent home with a list of instructions and modifications to diet intended to promote a rapid and healthy recovery. While complications are rare, this type of surgery may cause temporary nerve damage. Other minor complications can include infection of the tooth or gum due to trapped food or bacteria. There are some cases where anesthesia may cause a patient to become nauseous. 

Here is a guide about the aftermath and preparation for wisdom teeth removal surgery. 

What to expect the first 12 months after surgery

  • Sensitive Teeth: Cold sensitivity on your second molars will go away eventually, but could stay for up to several months. It is safe to use a fluoride toothpaste that is ideal for sensitive teeth. You can find these types of toothpaste at your local Pharmacy. 
  • Folds in the Gumline: If you feel a little fold in the gum line, it is because the bone is in the process of remodeling and flattening out. This is all in part of the healing process and can take up to a year to heal. 
  • Sharp Edge Bone: You may feel a chip or a sharp fragment sticking out of your gums. You may feel it a couple of days after the surgery, or you may feel it up to five years afterward. 
  • TMJ Pain: You may have TMJ pain when you open your mouth. The cause of TMJ pain is having your mouth open during the time of your wisdom, tooth removal surgery. A little ice packing and rest will help to manage TMJ pain.

The Healing Process

After the surgical removal of wisdom teeth, it is recommended to follow your oral surgeon’s directions as a way to avoid any potential complications or infections. As stated, pain and swelling are a normal part of having wisdom teeth extracted. There may also be some bleeding of the gums, as the healing process will take time. Surgeons recommend being very careful not to dislodge any blood clots located around the site of the surgery.

Patients should exercise caution by avoiding the consumption of solid or hard foods, coffee, alcohol, hot beverages, or soda for at least the first few days following this type of surgical procedure. Equally important is to avoid brushing your teeth for the first day after the procedure. The firm bristles of a toothbrush could cause additional bleeding or the dislodging of a blood clot. The good news is that in most situations, a patient can expect the recovery time for wisdom teeth extraction to be about 3 to 4 days. In some cases, it may take up to a week or longer, but these cases are the exception rather than the rule.


Who can perform wisdom teeth removal surgery?

The best recommendation is for you to see an oral surgeon. Oral surgeons have seen it all, and if any complications arise during surgery, it will not be a surprise to them. A general dentist may be capable of performing wisdom teeth removal surgery, but wisdom teeth surgery has a high complication rate if not done by an experienced surgeon. Be sure to pick one who performs this type of surgery often. 

What do you need to do before dental surgery?

Not much preparation is needed for wisdom teeth removal surgery because it is an outpatient procedure. An outpatient procedure means that you get to go home the same day as the surgery, but you should always ask your surgeon how to prepare for the surgery if you have any questions. Here is a list of questions to ask your surgeon to prepare you for your operation: 

. Do I need a bone graft?

Bone grafts reduce bone and jaw shrinkage in teeth closest to the surgical site. Bone grafting is recommended for bone augmentation and pocket preservation. These procedures help to preserve the bone for possible implant placement in the future.

. Should I fast before the surgery? If so, when should you begin?

It depends on which anesthesia the surgeon will be using. If local anesthesia will use its best to have a light meal in your stomach a few hours before the surgery begins. This helps to ensure that your blood sugar levels are kept up and maintained while the procedure is taking place. If you are using any other type of anesthesia with sedation, it is best to go into surgery on an empty stomach.

. Should someone drive you home?

It is recommended that someone drives you back just to be safe. Ask your surgeon about the effects of anesthesia and how long it will last. It also helps to ask if you can take your prescription medications before the procedure and what medications you should avoid taking entirely.

Avoid Vigorous Activity

A factor that will determine how quick the recovery processes will be included how severe the wisdom tooth impaction was at the time of removal. Those who have had wisdom tooth surgery should plan to rest and avoid substantial activity for at least the first few days. Always keep in mind that any activity for the first week following surgery that might dislodge or disrupt a blood clot should be avoided.

Patients may take over-the-counter pain medication or prescription medication as directed. Swelling is a normal part of the post-surgical experience when having teeth extracted. Placing an ice pack on the outside of the face over the jaw area can help reduce any swelling. Going back and forth between hot and cold compresses can help to reduce inflammation and ease any ongoing discomfort.

The First 24 Hours

It is essential to follow your oral surgeon or dentist’s instructions following surgery as a way to care for your mouth throughout the recovery period. Patients will likely be advised not to floss, brush, or rinse for the first 24 hours after wisdom tooth extraction surgery. Following the early 24 hours, it is usually okay to brush gently and rinse with a solution of warm water and salt as frequently as possible. This will keep the site of the surgical procedure clean and help to avoid infection.

Also, eating soft foods is always a good idea following surgery. This includes foods like cottage cheese, applesauce, yogurt, and any other type of soft food that will not interfere with the healing process. Eventually, patients can move into a diet that includes semi-soft foods and, finally, solid foods. While recovery will take several days, there may still be discomfort and swelling as long as a week or two out following surgery. The consistent use of ice packs along with frequently rinsing with warm salty water will help to facilitate healing. If you experience any unusual symptoms or side effects following surgery, call your oral surgeon as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns about tooth extraction or any oral surgery procedure, please contact our office. We offer free consultation and X-ray for our patients.


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