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Home Care after Wisdom Tooth Extraction

After wisdom tooth extraction, you should take several precautions to avoid complications and encourage a speedy recovery. It is important to get plenty of rest, take medications as directed, and avoid actions that can dislodge the blood clot, such as drinking from a straw and spitting. It is common to experience discomfort, swelling, and bleeding. However, if you experience severe pain or excessive bleeding, you should contact your dentist to ensure you have not developed an infection or a dry socket. Your doctor can provide you with wisdom tooth extraction recovery instructions to guide you through the healing process.

Immediately after Surgery

After the procedure, the doctor will pack gauze over the surgical site(s). The gauze should be kept in place for a half hour, then removed and discarded. To reduce swelling, you can apply an ice pack to the exterior of the cheek for 20-minute intervals.

Begin taking prescribed medication as soon as the anesthetic wears off, and avoid any strenuous activity.

It is also very important to rest after surgery. Begin taking prescribed medication as soon as the anesthetic wears off, and avoid any strenuous activity. Most patients can return to normal activities in three days to one week, unless the doctor advises otherwise.

Reduce Bleeding

There are several steps you can take to minimize bleeding after oral surgery. Apply new gauze every half hour and gently bite down to exert pressure on the surgical site(s). You may also bite down on a moistened tea bag to help with clotting. Remain sitting upright and sleep with your head elevated for one to two days following surgery.

Minimize Swelling and Bruising

Swelling of the mouth, cheeks, and face is a normal reaction to wisdom tooth extraction. However, it may not peak until two or three days after surgery. To help with swelling, begin applying ice immediately after surgery. Place an ice pack on the outsides of the face where the wisdom teeth were removed. The ice should be wrapped in a washcloth or towel to protect the skin. You can generally adhere to the guidelines of 20 minutes on followed by 20 minutes off the site. Anti-inflammatory medication can also help reduce swelling.

It is common for patients to experience discoloration of the cheeks and face following wisdom tooth extraction. Bruises may not appear until a few days after the surgery, and they will usually resolve within two weeks.

Relieve Pain

You may experience mild to moderate pain for at least two or three days following surgery. To relieve discomfort, your dentist may prescribe pain medication. Keep in mind that stronger forms of pain medication can cause sleepiness and grogginess, and you cannot drive after taking it. If pain becomes severe or continues beyond the first few days, you should follow up with your dentist.

Clean Your Teeth

It is important to keep your mouth clean and practice good oral hygiene to promote healing. You can resume brushing the night of surgery, but you should be gentle around the surgical site(s). The dentist may provide an irrigation syringe to be used on the surgical site, along with instructions and an anti-bacterial oral rinse. The day after surgery, you should rinse your mouth five to six times a day with a warm saltwater solution. However, be sure to do so gently. Instead of spitting the solution out, simply tip your mouth over the sink and let the water slowly fall out. This is particularly important after eating. To make a saltwater rinse, dissolve one tablespoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water.

woman eating an orange
After an initial healing period, you can resume eating solid foods.

Maintain a Proper Diet

After wisdom tooth extraction, you should eat a high-calorie liquid diet. When you feel ready, you can slowly reintroduce soft foods such as pudding and jello. You should drink at least five or six glasses of liquid each day to stay hydrated. Also avoid skipping meals to ensure you remain well nourished.

Be Wary of Dry Sockets

After oral surgery, a blood clot will form at the site. This clot serves to protect the surgical site while it heals. If the clot dislodges, the underlying bone and nerve will be exposed. This condition is known as a dry socket. You can tell if you have a dry socket because the area is white instead of red, and it is often accompanied by severe pain. To protect the blood clot, you should avoid drinking from a straw, smoking, or spitting following surgery. If a dry socket develops, contact your dentist immediately. 

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New Jersey Dental Centers

Our dentists and team of qualified professionals want every patient to love their smile. They are members of trusted dental organizations, including:

  • American Dental Association
  • New Jersey Dental Association
  • International Congress of Oral Implantologists
  • Academy of General Dentistry

Our dental care is affordable, and we offer flexible financing options to help you pay for treatment. To schedule a consultation at one of our 14 locations, call or contact us online.

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