Helping You Recover Swiftly After Wisdom Tooth Removal
Recovering from wisdom tooth surgery is typically a straightforward process, although you can expect some pain and swelling, especially in the first 48 hours. While complications are rare, such as poor healing or nerve injury, it’s important to take it easy and have someone accompany you to and from the operation if you’ve had intravenous sedation or general anesthesia.
What to Expect After the Procedure
For the initial 48 hours, you will likely experience pain. Your mouth may remain sore for approximately a week. During the surgery, local anesthetic injections are administered to ensure you’re pain-free for the first few hours. Afterwards, it’s crucial to take the prescribed painkillers regularly, especially before bedtime, to maximize your recovery. Typically, paracetamol and ibuprofen are given together to enhance their effects. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by your surgeon or pharmacist. In case you have medical restrictions, alternative medications will be arranged. It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene and follow the instructions to minimize the risk of infection. Antibiotics will only be prescribed if there is an active infection.
Swelling, particularly in the cheeks, both inside and outside the mouth, is common after the surgery. It reaches its peak in the first two days and gradually subsides. You can alleviate swelling by using ice packs immediately after the surgery. Bruising on the skin of your face may also occur, but it will fade over time.
You may experience jaw stiffness and have difficulty opening your mouth, which can cause pain. Typically, this discomfort will disappear within a couple of days, but in some cases, it may last up to two weeks. During this time, you may need to stick to a soft diet. Avoid forcing your jaw open prematurely and allow ample time for swelling to subside. Ibuprofen can help relieve this pain.
It’s common to experience sensitivity in the teeth adjacent to the wisdom tooth socket. This sensitivity should resolve with good oral hygiene practices, but it may persist for several weeks.
Temporary bad breath may occur, but it should not last for more than a week.
The stitches used during the procedure will dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed. However, it is crucial to start gently brushing the sutures away 3-4 days after the surgery to minimize the risk of food getting trapped. After the tooth extraction, the empty socket in the bone may last up to three months. As the wound heals, blood clots form over the empty tooth sockets, and it’s crucial not to dislodge them.
If bleeding occurs from the extraction site later on, apply pressure by biting on a cotton gauze or handkerchief for 3-5 minutes to stop it. Avoid consuming hot or very cold food and drinks, as they may restart the bleeding. Wisdom tooth surgeries usually do not require follow-up appointments unless complications arise or if bleeding persists. In such cases, contact your surgeon promptly.
Feeling more tired than usual is completely normal, as your body requires energy to heal itself.
Exercise and Sport
It’s vital to avoid strenuous activity and exercise for the first few days. As you gradually regain your energy, walking is the best way to return to your regular fitness routine. If you participate in contact sports like rugby or martial arts, consult with your surgeon before resuming these activities.
Dry socket affects 5-10% of patients and presents as intense and persistent pain 3-5 days after the initial pain has subsided. If you experience this, it’s crucial to contact your surgeon immediately, as the socket needs to be cleaned and the trapped debris causing the pain must be removed. Nerve injury, although less common, may occur due to bruising of the nerves near the roots of the lower wisdom teeth or during surgery injections. It affects up to 2% of patients and is generally temporary, but in rare cases, it can be permanent (1 in 200 patients). Nerve injury may cause pain, tingling, altered sensation (pins and needles), or numbness in the lower lip, gums, teeth, tongue, or adjacent areas. If your lower wisdom tooth is situated close to the “lip” nerve, you have a higher risk of nerve injury (temporary injury in 20% of cases and permanent injury in 2%). In such cases, an additional cone beam CT scan may be recommended, and the surgical approach may differ to minimize the risk of injury (coronectomy). Damage to adjacent teeth is also possible, especially if they have extensive dental work.
It’s crucial that you maintain good oral hygiene and gradually brush your teeth as usual, taking care to approach the wound gently each day and eventually brushing away the stitches after several days. Your surgeon may recommend using an antimicrobial mouthwash, and you may be prescribed salt-water rinses to aid in wound healing. Be cautious on the first postoperative day to avoid dislodging the blood clots that have formed over the wounds. For any concerns or complications, always consult your surgeon.
Remember, the healing process differs for each individual, so it’s important to follow your surgeon’s instructions and give your body the time it needs to recover fully. Make sure to take care of your oral health and reach out to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions.