Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 6-02-2020
Your wisdom teeth are located at the very back of your mouth and are the final teeth to erupt. Although wisdom teeth most commonly appear between the ages of 17 and 21, they might never emerge at all.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to have issues with your wisdom teeth because there just isn’t enough room for them. If they do appear, they can begin to put pressure on your other teeth, which can lead to pain and tooth shifting.
It is also not uncommon for them to become impacted, which means instead of growing upwards like your other teeth, they either grow on an extreme angle or can’t erupt completely. When this happens, surgery will be required to remove your wisdom teeth. This routine procedure is very common but does require recovery time.
The most important aspect of recovery is ensuring you don’t dislodge the blood clots that form at the site of the wounds. You also want to avoid damaging the stitches used to close the holes left at the site of your surgery.
The blood clots act like a scab to protect the hole and allow it to heal. If the blot clot is dislodged, dry sockets can develop, which exposes your nerves, leading to increased pain and increased risk for infection.
Although we will provide thorough instructions to aid in post-surgery care, to help you enjoy a speedy, complication-free recovery, we recommend the following tips.
1. Manage pain
On the day of your surgery, you will be sent home as soon as is possible after you wake up from your sedation. You will need someone to drive you home as the sedation used will have long-lasting effects that can make it dangerous to drive.
You can manage pain using over-the-counter painkillers we will recommend after reviewing your medical history. You can also apply an ice pack to your face to help reduce swelling and keep you comfortable. Wrap ice packs with a cloth and apply them every 20 minutes, taking a break of at least 20 minutes before reapplying ice.
2. Sip your drinks
It might be tempting to use a straw when drinking fluids, however, straws should be avoided. Instead, take short sips from your glass to keep you hydrated. Avoid alcohol and drinks that contain caffeine. Staying hydrated is important for recovery, so try to drink water when you can.
3. Don’t smoke
Smoking is a big ‘NO!’ following surgery as it can interfere with healing. This is your chance to escape from the trap of smoking. Following surgery, blood clots will form in the socket where your tooth was removed. Smoking can dislodge the clots which can lead to dreaded, painful dry sockets.
4. Eat soft food
Chances are you won’t be feeling overly hungry following your surgery, however, it is important to eat even if you wait until the next day.
You’ll want to choose foods that don’t require much chewing, as this will interfere with the blood clots and stitches. When you feel hungry, start eating very soft food including:
- Smooth soups
- Scrambled eggs
- Mashed bananas
- Cottage cheese
- Apple sauce
- Mashed potatoes
5. Avoid hot foods
To help with the healing process, it is very important to avoid piping hot food. Extremely hot temperatures in food and drink can put you at risk of burning where you just had surgery.
6. Stick to the recommended diet
You should stick to the recommended diet for all your meals and snacks. This is important because food can get wedged at the site of your surgery.
If you are enjoying soup, make sure it is not too hot and do not slurp it. Instead, take small sips to avoid dislodging your blood clot. You should also avoid the following foods:
- Spicy foods
- Crunchy and crumbly foods
- Grains and seeds
- Berries such as raspberries and blackberries that have lots of seeds
- Chewy foods
7. Introduce new food slowly
You can begin eating heartier food when the pain has subsided, and you feel you can handle it. Don’t rush things as the more time you allow for healing, the sooner you will be able to get back to eating all the foods you enjoy.
8. Avoid strenuous activity
You can get back to your regular activities as soon as you are feeling up to it, however, you should avoid any strenuous exercise for at least the first few days.
9. Proper care
We will provide proper care instructions to aid in the healing process. This includes:
- No brushing or flossing the day of your surgery.
- Rinsing your mouth with salt water to clean the wounds.
- Never spit the water out when rinsing; let it fall out of your mouth and into the sink so you don’t dislodge the clots.
If you experience excess bleeding, you can gently dab the wound with gauze.
10. Recognize the signs of trouble
Although you are expected to experience some swelling, pain, and bleeding, you should watch for signs of trouble including:
- Unbearable pain not reduced by medication
- Trouble swallowing or breathing
- Increased swelling
- Blood or pus from the nose
- Bleeding that doesn’t stop
In most cases, you should be feeling better by the third day after surgery, with pain and bleeding completely gone within a week. If this is not the case, or you experience any of the above symptoms, contact our office immediately to arrange for a check-up.
11. Take medication as instructed
In some cases, we might prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. Complete the entire prescription to ensure they have time to take effect.
Depending on your particular case, you can expect to be fully recovered within a week. If your wisdom teeth were impacted, recovery can take longer. As long as you follow the home care instructions we provide, you should be able to heal well and avoid infection or complications.