Your wisdom teeth, also called third molars, usually emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. While some do not have any problems as they come in, approximately 85 percent[TR1] of people experience pain and discomfort.
Signs and symptoms of wisdom teeth
If your wisdom teeth are unable to grow and develop normally, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Swelling of the gums (usually behind second molars)
- Jaw pain
- Bleeding or tender gums
- Difficulty opening your mouth wide
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Halitosis (bad breath)
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, visit your dentist to determine whether your wisdom teeth need to be removed. Removal can help you avoid further complications like tooth decay or gum infections.
Wisdom teeth extractions are almost always performed as an outpatient procedure at Alpine Dental Health, which means you go home on the same day. You’ll also receive pre-op and post-op instructions so you can be prepared before and immediately following your procedure.
Wisdom teeth removal recovery tips
Here are a few things you can do after you return home to reduce any pain associated with having your wisdom teeth removed:
Expect mild bleeding for the first 24 hours following surgery. It’s important to avoid sucking (e.g., with a straw) or spitting to avoid dislodging the blood clot from the socket. Also, be sure to replace gauze pads over the extraction site every 30-45 minutes until bleeding subsides.
- Pain management
Your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend over-the-counter pain medications (e.g., Tylenol) or give you a prescription. Prescription pain medication may be especially helpful if bone has been removed during the procedure.
- Swelling and bruising
Using a cold compress at 10-minute intervals may help relieve post-operative pain or swelling. Swelling of the cheeks usually resolves within 2-3 days, while bruising can take up to a week or more.
Plan to rest the day of your procedure. Most people can resume normal activities comfortably the following day. However, it’s important to avoid strenuous activity for at least a week.
- Food and beverages
Eat only soft foods for the first 24 hours and then reintroduce semisoft foods, as you feel comfortable. Avoid hard, chewy, hot or spicy foods that might get stuck in the socket or irritate your wounds. Also, be sure to drink lots of water and avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated or hot beverages.
- Cleaning your mouth
Do not brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, spit or use mouthwash for the first 24 hours. When you resume your oral hygiene routine, be particularly gentle near the surgical wounds. Also, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every two hours and after meals for a week.
- Tobacco use
Avoid smoking for at least 72 hours after surgery—or longer if possible. Avoid chewing tobacco for at least a week. Tobacco produces may delay healing and increase your risk of complications or infection.
Wisdom teeth removal recovery can be a challenge if you aren’t prepared. The dental staff at Alpine Dental Health encourages you to plan ahead, so you have everything you need after the surgery (e.g., cold compresses, soft foods like yogurt or applesauce, gauze pads, and plenty of water). If your dentist or oral surgeon anticipates you will need a prescription pain medication, talk to him or her about having the prescription filled in advance of your procedure. That way you won’t have to worry about picking it up on your way home. We want you to have a relaxed experience centered on comfort, compassion and respect, and we hope these helpful tips will prepare you for your wisdom teeth removal and recovery.