Tips for After Wisdom Teeth Removal
In the past, wisdom teeth were sometimes automatically removed as a preventative measure, but these days dentists will generally wait-and-see if wisdom teeth will most likely cause problems. Wisdom tooth removal is still a very common procedure because, by the time they come through, there is often insufficient room in the jaw to comfortably accommodate them.
Here at Canyon Dental, our dentist Dr. Joe Schmidt keeps a close eye on the development of wisdom teeth and will recommend their removal if he can clearly see they cannot erupt normally. This is often the case if dental x-rays show wisdom teeth are impacted and cannot push through the gums without causing damage to these teeth, not to mention quite a bit of discomfort. During wisdom teeth removal, every precaution is taken to keep you comfortable, ensuring the procedure is as smooth and as pain-free as possible. Afterward, we will give you lots of advice on how to care for the extraction sites, but you will also find some helpful tips below.
What to Expect Immediately After Wisdom Teeth Removal
After wisdom tooth removal you may have some stitches because sometimes it’s necessary to cut into the gums or bone to remove wisdom teeth. Often when wisdom teeth are badly impacted, they are removed in sections so that it is easier to get them out. If your gums have been stitched, they should heal very quickly and generally, the stitches will dissolve on their own. Where tooth sockets have been left open, it’s quite common to experience a little bleeding and you will be provided with plenty of gauze to help stop any oozing. Gently biting down on the gauze should provide sufficient pressure to stop the bleeding but of course, if you are at all worried, then get in touch with us here at Canyon Dental for immediate advice and help.
If your wisdom teeth were removed under local anesthetic, you may feel well enough to drive yourself home or could even feel okay to go back to work although you should avoid strenuous activities. However, if you have had oral or intravenous sedation, you will need to take it easy after surgery and you should get someone to drive you home.
Lots of people will have minimal discomfort after oral surgery, although you may have some mild discomfort for the first few days and you will most likely have some swelling. It will take several weeks for your mouth to completely heal but you should soon begin to feel much more comfortable after just a few days.
What to Do in the First Few Days after Surgery
It’s perfectly normal to experience some swelling because it’s the body’s way of reacting to surgery. Often the full amount of swelling will not be apparent until two or three days afterward. It can be useful to use ice packs to help reduce swelling and bruising, at least for the first 36 hours. Gently apply the ice pack to the jaw for 20 minutes at a time. Afterward, moist heat can help relieve a sore jaw and may be beneficial in reducing swelling. After surgery, your jaw may feel a little sore simply because it has been open for a while so gently exercise it by opening and closing your mouth. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, especially if you had sedation dentistry.
Our dentist may suggest you use a salt water rinse made from a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in it. When rinsing your mouth, don’t rinse to harshly. You can begin to brush your teeth the day after surgery but take care not to brush against any blood clots that have begun to form in the empty tooth sockets. If you have been prescribed any drugs to help ease pain or swelling, then be sure to take them. However, often any pain or discomfort can be easily controlled by over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
During these first few days, it can be easier to stick to softer foods that require little chewing such as rice, soup, mashed potato, scrambled eggs or pasta. We can give you more advice about which foods are best when you visit our dental practice and it’s a good idea to make sure you have lots of soft foods at home, so you don’t need to think about going to the grocery store immediately after surgery.
Things You Shouldn’t Do after Surgery
Avoid using a drinking straw because sucking can loosen the blood clots that have formed in the empty tooth sockets. If you use mouth rinse or a warm salt water rinse, then only swish it around very gently. It can be better to avoid eating very hard, sticky or crunchy foods that could irritate the surgery sites. Please avoid smoking because this slows down healing and there’s also the potential that the sucking action of smoking could dislodge the blood clots in your tooth sockets. These blood clots are vitally important for the healing process because they protect the empty sockets, helping to prevent infection so you can heal more easily, more quickly and more comfortably. It’s also better to avoid alcohol and very hot beverages for the first few days after surgery.
Complications after wisdom tooth removal are thankfully quite rare but there is one potential problem that develops in a tiny percentage of cases and which is called dry socket. This is where that protective blood clot is dislodged, exposing the bone and nerves underneath and which greatly increases the risk of infection. You will soon know if you develop dry socket because instead of the extraction sites becoming more comfortable, they will soon become quite painful. If this happens, then you will need to return to see Dr. Schmidt, so he can thoroughly clean out the empty sockets, removing the infection and often a medicated paste is placed in the extraction sites, so they can heal more easily. Following all your post-op instructions will help to reduce the risk of dry socket so your healing will be complication free. As the empty sockets heal, there will be a cavity where the tooth used to be, but this will gradually fill in with new tissue.
It’s possible that your temperature may increase immediately following surgery, but it should soon return to normal. If your temperature continues to rise, if you begin to feel feverish or are at all concerned about any aspect of your recovery, then please get in touch with us immediately.
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