Wisdom teeth removal is a procedure to remove one or more of the third molars located in the very back of the mouth – at the ends of both the top and bottom arches of teeth. It is a surgical intervention, but you can improve your recovery immensely after the extraction by embracing some essential recovery tips to alleviate your discomfort.
When Is it Necessary for Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
Although there is no reason to remove healthy wisdom teeth that have fully emerged, are in the correct position, and are not causing overcrowding in the mouth, sometimes there is just not enough room for the wisdom teeth to grow. Thus, the teeth may become impacted (trapped below the gum line), erupt only partially, or cause damage to neighboring teeth as they come through.
Any of these problems can lead to pain, infection, cysts, tooth decay, and gum disease, indicating that wisdom teeth removal is likely to be the best course of action. Wisdom teeth extractions take place at an oral surgery clinic under a local anesthetic, but if all four wisdom teeth are removed together you may be admitted to a hospital to have the procedure under a general anesthetic.
Removal of wisdom teeth is generally uneventful, but because the teeth are so large, they are a little more complicated than a simple extraction. Incisions are generally made in the gum, which will require stitching to close the wound after the tooth has been removed. Additional care will need to be taken to ensure that it heals fully. So, take a look at these five recovery tips to put yourself on the road to a speedy and successful recovery after your wisdom teeth extractions.
1: Bite Gently on a Gauze Pad or Tea Bag to Stop Bleeding
There will be bleeding from the extraction sites after your wisdom teeth have been removed. Gauze pads will probably have been placed over the sites, but your surgeon or dentist may ask you to bite down gently on gauze pads to encourage blood clots to form. This is a vital part of the recovery process as blood clots help to protect the wound and underlying bone from infection.
You may find that the bleeding persists for a day or two, although at a slower rate than initially. After twelve hours you can replace the gauze with a cold, damp tea bag. Tea leaves contain tannic acid which aids blood clotting, and the cold bag will ease discomfort immediately, as well as help to reduce swelling.
2: Use an Ice Pack to Reduce Swelling and Bruising
Ice packs are often used for pain relief, but even if you are not in pain it is worth applying ice packs to the side of the face over the extraction sites. Cold constricts blood vessels which will effectively reduce swelling and bruising, potentially lessening recovery time.
Applying the ice packs during waking hours for periods of 20 minutes followed by 20 minutes off during the first 24 to 48 hours will be most beneficial. You may find that bags of frozen peas will be more malleable and comfortable to apply to the contours of your face.
3: Keep Your Mouth Clean
It is fundamental you keep your mouth clean to prevent infection. Follow your dentist’s advice about whether you should brush and floss your teeth before you go to bed on the day you have had surgery. If you do brush your teeth be very gentle and take care not to dislodge any blood clots that have formed over the extraction sites.
Mouthwashes are not always a good idea after extractions. Avoid using commercial mouthwash that contains alcohol as this may cause irritation, sensitivity, or pain around the wound sites. However, antibacterial mouthwashes such as Corsodyl may be helpful as they actively fight infection and promote gum healing.
You can also make your own mouthwash using warm water and salt solution (saline). Salt is a renowned anti-inflammatory and natural antiseptic that has been used since ancient Greek and Roman times in wound cleansing. A saline solution contains the same salts and minerals that our own bodies do, so it will not irritate the mucous membranes. You can use this rinse 4 or 5 times a day, especially after consuming any food or drinks (apart from water).
4: Eat Soft Foods
Apart from liquids, stick to soft foods. Nutritious foods, including soups, smoothies, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes are excellent foods to eat but do not consume them when they are hot. You may find cold foods, such as houmous, yogurt, or ice cream will alleviate discomfort in your mouth following your wisdom teeth extractions.
Start to reintroduce foods that require a little chewing, such as pasta, noodles, and soft bread after a few days, but avoid acidic, spicy, and crunchy foods. You should be able to return to your normal diet after 5 or 6 days providing your mouth is healing well and there is no sign of any complications.
5. Rest—But Keep Moving
It is vital you get plenty of rest following wisdom teeth removal as the body needs to heal itself. It will heal much quicker if you take things easy and commit to getting enough sleep. If you are sleeping, your heart is resting. Thus, you will be demanding less from it, which decreases blood pressure—and lower blood pressure diminishes strain on the blood vessels.
Having the right amount of sleep, particularly after surgery, also helps to reduce swelling. There is research showing that lack of sleep raises inflammation levels, but so too does having too much sleep. Aim for between 7 and 9 hours a night for optimal benefits.
There is no reason why you cannot resume your usual, everyday activities after wisdom tooth surgery, as long as it doesn’t involve vigorous exercise or strenuous exertion. While it is important to rest, it is also necessary to keep active to maintain physical and mental health and wellbeing.
During recovery, you should engage in simple exercises for the jaw. It may well feel sore and stiff after the surgery, but keeping it moving will ease the stiffness, and it will also help to alleviate the swelling.
Look Forward to a Quick Recovery After Your Wisdom Teeth Removal!
Follow these recovery tips following your wisdom teeth extractions, but most importantly of all make sure you heed your dentist’s advice.
Amanda Duffy has considerable knowledge of the fields of dentistry and oral health, gained from a 20-year career in the healthcare sector, including a decade in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service and years of experience writing high-quality dental content. Amanda Duffy is currently the lead dental writer at Rockwest Dental.
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