Wisdom tooth extraction is a common surgical practice. A wisdom tooth generally develops in the gums during the late teenage years or early twenties. Due to lack of space in your mouth, they may sometime erupt at an angle or become stuck, only to emerge partially. These types of wisdom teeth are known as impacted wisdom teeth, and they can lead to future oral health problems such as infection and pain. If performed by a specialist, removal and healing of wisdom teeth is generally uncomplicated for most patients.
Healing After Wisdom Teeth Removal: What to Expect
Surgical removal of wisdom teeth is quite common, and most people feel little or no pain after the surgery. Healing time differs for everyone, and it may take longer if your wisdom teeth are impacted. Following your wisdom teeth removal, you may experience slight swelling, mild bruising and discomfort in your face for 3-4 days. You should follow the instructions given by your dentist or oral surgeon on how to take proper care after the surgery.
Here is an outline of the healing stages, after your wisdom teeth removal:
Initial 24 hours: Blood clot formation
2 to 3 days: Improvement in mouth and cheek swelling
7 days: Removal of remaining stitches by the dentist
7 to 10 days: Expected improvement in jaw stiffness and soreness
2 weeks: Expected healing of any mild bruising on the face
How to Speed Up Recovery Following Your Wisdom Teeth Removal
Blood clot formation at the wisdom tooth extraction site is a crucial aspect of the healing process because it:
- Helps check excessive bleeding
- Prevents wound infection
- Boosts new tissue growth
- Protects the exposed bone
It is important to ensure that these blood clots are not removed during the first 24 hours after the surgery. Avoid the following activities for at least 24 hours:
- Brushing teeth close to the extraction site
- Rinsing your mouth
- Drinking hot beverages
- Eating foods that necessitate chewing
- Sucking on straws
- Smoking or drinking
After 24 hours, gentle rinsing with antiseptic mouth rinse is recommended.
Recovery Tips for Wisdom Tooth Removal
Follow your doctor’s instructions for a faster recovery. Here are a few useful tips that you should follow for the first 3 days after your surgery:
- Apply an ice pack to remove swelling or the color changes in your facial skin.
- Use damp heat to treat a sore jaw.
- Gently exercise your jaw by slowly opening and closing your mouth.
- Eat soft foods including pasta, rice, or soup.
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Brush your teeth after 24 hours of your surgery but avoid brushing against any blood clots.
- Take all the medicines that are prescribed by your dentist to relieve the pain or swelling.
- Contact your dentist if you get a fever, or if your pain or swelling doesn’t improve.
What Problems Are Linked to Wisdom Teeth?
Impacted or partially emerged wisdom teeth can lead to dental problems. Food and bacteria can get in the edges of your teeth and gums to cause plaque build-up which can lead to:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Pericoronitis (an infection of the soft tissue surrounding the tooth)
- Cellulitis (a bacterial infection in the cheek, tongue or throat)
- Abscess (pus formation in the wisdom tooth or in the surrounding tissue)
- Cysts and benign growths (very rarely seen in a wisdom tooth)
[Also Read: How Is Bad Breath Linked to Your Wisdom Teeth?]
Many of these issues can be cured using antibiotics and antiseptic mouthwashes.
It’s best to visit your dentist when you feel pain or discomfort in your wisdom tooth. They will review your condition to suggest if you should get it extracted or not. Wisdom tooth removal is generally suggested by dentists when other treatments have failed.