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What to Expect After a Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Posted on 1/17/2017 by Dr McMurray
A man in pain after a wisdom tooth extraction.
Your wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last to erupt through your gums, usually appearing in your late teens or early twenties. These teeth are also the ones that are most likely to have issues, frequently becoming impacted.

They might only erupt partially through the gums, which can cause infection, or don't erupt at all, due to lack of room or growing sideways into adjacent teeth, pushing your other teeth out of alignment. Wisdom teeth often require extraction, a surgical procedure to remove them from the jaw. Here is what you can expect following the procedure.

Bleeding and Swelling
Some bleeding and swelling is to be expected following an extraction. Bleeding can continue up to 48 hours after. Holding gauze pads over the extraction sites with gentle pressure can help to stop it.

Swelling usually peaks about 2 to 3 days after surgery. You can take measures to prevent severe swelling by using ice on and off of your cheek for 20 minute intervals. This is only effective during the first 24 hours. After 48 hours, you can use gentle, moist heat on and off for 15 minute intervals to bring swelling down.

Pain is also to be expected after surgery. It can usually be managed with over the counter pain medication, although you may be prescribed a stronger pain medication to help you deal with more severe pain. You may also be prescribed antibiotics to help fight against potential infection.

You should limit your activity for the first few days following your wisdom tooth extraction, especially during the first 24 hours. You should avoid bending, lifting heavy objects or getting your heart rate too high. Too much activity can increase bleeding and swelling. Instead, you should rest as much as you can while you heal, with your head elevated above your heart.

Avoid eating anything until your anesthetic wears off. When it does, you should eat a diet of soft foods, ones that are also nutritious, to avoid irritating the site. Make sure foods aren't too hot. And don't skip meals. Getting proper nutrition is important to proper and speedy healing.

Oral Hygiene

Keeping your mouth clean is important, but care should be exercised. Brush your teeth gently. Don't rinse during the first 24 hours, but after that time, use a salt water solution a few times a day. Or, you may be prescribed an antibacterial mouthwash. Either the saltwater or the mouthwash will help kill germs and prevent infection.

Following your dentist's instructions after a wisdom tooth extraction is important ensuring that you heal properly and without problems. However, if you experience severe pain that cannot be controlled, excessive bleeding or swelling, or develop a fever, contact our office right away.

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