Wisdom Teeth: Your Recovery
After surgery to remove your wisdom teeth, your mouth needs time to heal. Some bleeding is normal on the first day after surgery. You may also see some bruising and swelling on your face for about the first week. To promote faster healing, get enough rest, eat and drink nutritious foods, and take care of the extraction site. Follow any special instructions from your surgeon.
A few hours after surgery, a blood clot develops to fill the socket. About 3 weeks after surgery, repair tissue has filled the socket. Within 3 to 6 months after surgery, the socket is filled with new bone.
The Healing Process
Healing after wisdom teeth removal takes a few months. First, a blood clot forms in the socket where the wisdom tooth was removed. Within a day or two, the socket starts filling with repair tissue. This lays the foundation for bone tissue to grow. When new bone tissue fills the socket, healing is complete.
During the first day or two after surgery:
Control bleeding. Bite down on the gauze dressing over the extraction site. Use constant pressure. Bleeding should stop within 2 hours. (Some oozing for a few days is normal.)
Take medication as directed. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication. Or he or she may suggest using over-the-counter medication instead. You may also be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.
Reduce swelling. Apply an ice pack to your cheek for 10 minutes at a time. Take a break of at least 5 minutes between applications. Don't drink hot liquids, since heat may increase swelling or bleeding.
Get enough rest. Take it easy for at least 24 hours after surgery. And go to bed early.
Drink nutritious liquids. Once bleeding has stopped, try drinking vegetable juice, 100% fruit juice, protein drinks, or milk.
Protect the extraction site. To avoid dislodging the blood clot, don't brush your teeth or rinse your mouth the first day. Don't smoke or drink through a straw, since suction can dislodge the clot.
Helping Your Mouth Heal
Return gradually to your normal diet. Start with soft foods such as oatmeal, bananas, or mashed potatoes. You can eat solid food when you feel able to.
Brush and floss your teeth gently. Wait until the day after surgery. Then, take care when cleaning around the healing site.
Keep the extraction site clean. Starting the day after surgery, rinse your mouth after each meal for about a week. Use antiseptic as directed, or a mixture of 1 cup warm water and ½ teaspoon salt.
Things to Avoid
Don't drive while you're taking prescription pain medication.
Don't drink alcohol for as long as you're taking pain medication.
Don't smoke for at least a week after surgery. This allows faster healing. The longer you keep from smoking, the better. Quitting permanently is best of all.
Don't eat crunchy or sticky foods, such as popcorn or caramel, for at least 2 weeks. Also, avoid drinking thick liquids (such as a milk shake) through a straw.
When to Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor after surgery if any of the following occurs:
The pain becomes more severe on the day after surgery or can't be controlled with pain medication
Bleeding becomes hard to control or comes in spurts
You have chills or a fever over 100.4ºF
Swelling around the extraction site worsens
You have itching, a rash, or other symptoms that may be due to an allergic reaction to your medication
You have persistent nausea or vomiting