A Smooth Recovery

Chances are you’ve heard a horror story or two about recovering from wisdom tooth removal. If you’re preparing for a removal procedure, rest easy. A few simples steps will help ensure your recovery is smooth sailing.

Following your wisdom tooth removal, you should be back on your feet in a few days. To avoid any setbacks, follow these tips:

Brush cautiously. Following your procedure, it is important to maintain your normal dental hygiene habits. However, remember to be extra careful while you brush and floss so you don’t reopen your stitches.

Control pain. Often, over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be substantial enough to control minor pain levels. If pain becomes severe, contact your oral surgeon.

Follow your prescription. Take prescription pain medicine or antibiotics as directed by your dental surgeon. Antibiotics may be a precautionary measure to prevent infection or may be prescribed to treat a preexisting infection surrounding extracted teeth. Either way, it’s essential to take the full dose of these medications.

Hands off.  Avoid touching your sutures with your fingers. This contact can increase the chances of infection.

Hit the ice. For the first 24 hours following your procedure, ice your cheeks. Alternate 10 minutes of ice compress with 20 minutes without. Doing so will minimize swelling and help control pain.

Relax. Jumping back in to an exercise routine can cause your extraction sites to bleed, slowing healing. Physical activity should be avoided for a few days following your wisdom tooth removal to ensure appropriate healing.

Rinse. Starting the day after your procedure, rinse your mouth with warm salt water as needed for swelling and pain control. Be sure to rinse gently to avoid damaging your sutures.

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Sit up. Lying down flat can prolong bleeding at extraction sites. To avoid this, prop your head up with a few pillows.

Skip the straw. Following your procedure, you may be tempted to use a straw to eat or drink. Unfortunately, doing so can actually delay the healing process by reopening sutures. Forgo the straw and take small sips of soup or drinks.

Soft foods only. Ease into eating solid foods. For the first few days following your procedure, gelatin, pudding, and broth are the best options to eat. As healing progresses, phase in more solid foods. Keep in mind to avoid very hot soups or drinks, as the temperature can prolong the healing process.

Bleeding at extraction sites should stop about 24 hours after your procedure. The most common complication following wisdom tooth extraction is a condition called dry sockets, which occur when a blood clot fails to form in or is dislodged from an extraction site. In some cases, dry sockets may be treated at home. More severe instances, however, may require a return trip to the dentist. To avoid additional pain and inconvenience, follow the tips listed above and your recovery will be a breeze.