Guide to Recovering from Wisdom Teeth Removal
For many young adults, removing their wisdom teeth is a natural ritual as they transition from teenager to adult. However, that doesn’t make it any less nerve-racking.
Family and friends have all heard stories about their wisdom teeth removals, and every tale seems slightly different.
Below is information about what you can expect during your wisdom teeth extraction and how to prepare for your recovery. We hope this will ease your anxiety and help you gain confidence as you move toward healing.
What to Expect
Knowing what to expect before, during, and after your procedure can assist you in your preparations. It can also lessen any anxiety or stress you may be feeling.
Why Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Your wisdom teeth are your third molars. They are the last of your permanent teeth to surface or appear in your mouth. Typically, there are four wisdom teeth in each corner of your mouth. If your wisdom teeth are going to erupt, this usually occurs between 17 and 25 years of age.
Not everyone needs their wisdom teeth removed. For some people, their wisdom teeth never develop. For others, their wisdom teeth are impacted and require removal.
Impacted wisdom teeth occur because the mouth does not have enough space for the teeth to erupt or develop normally. They may grow at an irregular angle toward the second molar or toward the back of the mouth. Or they may grow normally but remain entirely or partially impacted (trapped) in the jawbone.
Impacted wisdom teeth can create many different problems in your mouth. It is recommended that you have your wisdom teeth removed if you experience the following:
- Pain in the back of your mouth
- Trapped food or debris around the wisdom teeth
- Gum disease or infection
- Tooth decay in a partially erupted wisdom tooth
- Development of a cyst (fluid-filled sac) around the wisdom tooth
- Sustained damage to nearby teeth or the surrounding bone
What Happens During My Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Before your wisdom teeth are removed, you’ll likely be sedated. You will discuss the sedation options with your oral surgeon or dentist in a pre-procedure appointment. We offer a oral conscious sedation.
Sedation options include:
- Local anesthesia: The area around the extraction site is numbed. You remain awake during the procedure
- Oral Sedation: Medications will be prescribed to help ease anxiety and limit the memory of the procedure but you will still be awake.
After sedation, your surgeon or dentist will make incisions to expose the impacted wisdom teeth. They will carefully loosen the teeth. Then, they will remove them from the sockets.
Once the teeth are removed, your surgeon or dentist will clean the site. Then, if needed, they will place stitches to close the incision. Within a few days, the stitches will typically dissolve or fall out on their own. If they need to be removed we have you return in a week to check the healing and remove sutures.
The whole procedure typically takes about an hour.
How Will I Feel After?
This is a common question. Everyone wants to know how they will feel after removing their wisdom teeth.
This can vary slightly for each person. However, you can expect mild discomfort for at least 2 to 3 days following the extraction. You can also expect some minor bleeding for the first 24 hours.
Here are some common symptoms you may experience during the first 24 to 72 hours:
- Dry socket (when the blood clot is dislodged from the socket exposing the bone and nerves)
- Jaw stiffness
Your oral surgeon or dentist will provide you with post-procedure instructions to follow. Their instructions will help to minimize your discomfort and promote healing.
Your aftercare instructions may include the following:
- Rest as much as possible during the first 48 hours
- Avoid strenuous activity for 2 to 3 days
- Use an ice pack on your face to minimize swelling
- Replace the gauze as directed
- Avoid excessive spitting or swishing
- Drink lots of water and avoid all other beverages for the first 24 hours
- Avoid using a straw for at least a week
- Eat soft foods for the first few days and then slowly reintroduce other foods starting with semi-soft foods
- Do not smoke (including vaping and marijuana) for at least 72 hours
- Take all medications as prescribed
How Long Will Recovery Take?
Your recovery will typically take an average of two weeks to return completely back to normal.
You’ll see significant improvements in how you feel in 2 to 3 days after the procedure. However, remember that you are still healing inside your mouth. Continue to follow the aftercare instructions until fully recovered.
Contact your oral surgeon or dentist if you start to experience the following:
- Blood or pus in your nasal drainage
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Heavy bleeding
- Pain not relieved by medication
- Pus oozing from the socket
- Swelling that increases
Usually, you will not need to see your oral surgeon or dentist after the wisdom teeth removal. However, they need to remove the stitches or you are experiencing issues.
How to Prepare for Your Wisdom Teeth Removal
While removing your wisdom teeth is a relatively minor procedure, preparing yourself ahead of time for the recovery process is essential. This will help to ensure you heal properly and as comfortably as possible.
Here are some things to consider in your preparation:
Identify who will drive you to and from your wisdom teeth removal if you have chosen to do a sedation. This might be a parent, spouse, older sibling, family member, or friend.
Plan to wear loose and comfortable clothing to your appointment. If you are going to have sedation or general anesthesia, wear a short-sleeved shirt for easy access to your arm.
Do not worry about putting on makeup or fixing your hair. Afterward, you will not care what you look like. You will just want to go home and sleep.
School or Work
You will need 2 to 3 days to recover after your extraction. We recommend taking the days off of school or work to give yourself plenty of time to rest and heal. You should be able to return after that period.
If you have a job that requires heavy lifting or physical labor, consider taking several additional days off.
Your food options will be limited for several days after your wisdom teeth extraction. This is to ensure that what you eat does not get stuck or cause harm to the incision sites.
Shop ahead of time for the foods that you like and can eat, especially during the first 2 to 3 days. This way, you do not have to worry about grocery shopping when you don’t feel well.
For the first day or two, limit yourself to soft foods that do not require chewing. This includes:
- Apple sauce
- Ice cream
- Mashed or pureed fruit
- Mashed potatoes or other vegetables
As you heal, you can start to add in semi soft foods that require a small amount of chewing, such as:
- Cottage cheese
- Macaroni and cheese
- Scrambled eggs
- Soft cheese
- Steamed vegetables
For the first several weeks following your wisdom teeth removal, you should avoid foods that are acidic, crunchy, hard, hot, spicy, sticky, or get stuck in your teeth. This can include:
- Citrus fruit
- Crunchy or raw vegetables
- Firm meats
- Fruit juices
You will need to rest and you may find yourself wanting to sleep a lot the first day. Prepare your space to become more comfortable. You should sleep often during the first 12 to 24 hours. This is normal and part of the healing process.
You will also want plenty of things to do as you relax. This is a great time to watch a show or movie on your streaming watchlist. You can also read books, do puzzles, play video games, or color.
You will want to avoid exercise, housework, school, work, or anything strenuous for the initial recovery period.
If you have questions about wisdom teeth removals or other teeth extractions, contact us at (208) 782-0242 or request an appointment. At Grove City Dental, we are committed to making our patients our top priority. Our qualified team will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and help you find the right solutions for you and your family.