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Wisdom Tooth Extraction Recovery Time & Food/Diet Tips

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    oral surgeon performing wisdom tooth extraction surgery
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    Wisdom teeth are the teeth that usually come in when you are between 16 and 22, and occasionally as late as 25. Known as third molars, these are the last adult teeth in the jaws. They are located after the other molars and complete your dentition.

    However, wisdom teeth often cause issues and need to be taken out. Most people don’t have sufficient space in their jaw to accommodate those teeth. As a result, wisdom teeth cannot erupt properly. They may come in sideways or not emerge from below the gum at all, which is what dentists called impacted wisdom teeth.

    Third molars can cause a variety of issues, and that is why they often require extraction. Many times, patients who need such a procedure face many questions and fears. Is wisdom teeth removal painful? What to expect after the surgery? How long is the recovery period?

    In this article, we will answer these and other questions regarding the recovery from one of the most common dental surgeries, namely wisdom teeth extraction. So, please continue reading!

    What to expect after the extraction of your wisdom tooth?

    dentist performing a wisdom tooth surgery

    After your wisdom teeth removal surgery, your mouth and cheeks may swell. You can also expect mild discomfort, pain and jaw stiffness. These are normal side effects of the procedure, and you shouldn’t worry about them. Your dentist will give you recommendations on how to alleviate them and have a smoother recovery.

    What to expect on the day of your wisdom tooth surgery?

    Your wisdom teeth surgery may last anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. Most of the time, dental surgeons use local anaesthesia or IV sedation to numb the area. However, if your case is very complex, your operation might be carried out under general anaesthesia.

    You will not experience pain during the wisdom tooth removal procedure. But, once the effect of anaesthesia wears off, you will probably feel discomfort or pain. You can also expect swelling and bleeding in your mouth. Your oral surgeon should tell you how to relieve the pain and manage other complications.

    Right after your wisdom teeth surgery, you are more likely to feel somewhat tired and dizzy. This is usually because of the anaesthesia. It is best to take a good rest once you are at home. If you are hungry, make sure to consume only very soft foods.

    What to expect during the first few days of your recovery?

    You should feel significantly better the day after your wisdom tooth extraction. There might still be some swelling, bleeding or discomfort, but they will gradually disappear in just a few days.

    You can usually return to your normal activities the day following your extraction. However, avoid vigorous or heavy exercise because it may lead to dislodging of the blood clot that develops at the extraction site. It is also best to follow a soft food diet so that you don’t hurt the healing wounds. You should refrain from smoking or drinking alcohol because they can contribute to the formation of a dry socket.

    In case, the swelling does not improve with time, or you experience any unusual symptoms, for example, fever, persistent pain which is not affected by medications, or breathing or swallowing problems, be sure to see your dentist as soon as you can.

    How long is wisdom tooth extraction recovery?

    an extracted wisdom tooth

    Three or four days following your wisdom tooth removal procedure, the swelling should fully disappear, and you should feel confident going back to work or school.

    Nevertheless, it might be still prudent to stay away from strenuous activities or lifting heavy objects in order to preserve the formed blood clot. Consequently, if your job involves heavy manual labour, it might be a good idea to wait a few more days before returning.

    How long is impacted wisdom teeth recovery?

    If you had your impacted wisdom tooth removed, your recovery time will most likely be longer. Your swelling should subside within a week, and you may be able to return to work.

    Impacted wisdom teeth removal procedure normally requires a more complex surgical approach. The oral surgeon will need to make a cut in the gum tissue and remove bone to gain access to the impacted tooth root. As a result, it may take longer for the extraction site to completely heal.

    How long should pain last after wisdom tooth extraction?

    After wisdom tooth removal, you may experience discomfort and pain for about 3 days to a week, depending on the complexity of the surgery. There are a few factors that will determine the amount of pain, including the amount of damage to the tissue, the amount of infection that is present and your tissue’s sensitivity.

    The recovery after wisdom teeth removal is usually not associated with any severe pain. However, if you develop a more severe infection, then you will probably have more pain and a more difficult healing process. In addition, some people's tissues are more sensitive and have a higher pain threshold than others.

    How to speed up wisdom teeth removal recovery?

    Here, we will give you some tips on what to do and what not to do after your wisdom teeth removal in order to have a smoother and speedy recovery.

    Dos after wisdom teeth removal

    • Take your medications. On the day of your surgery, your dentist will recommend that you begin taking pain relievers. Antibiotics are rarely prescribed following such a procedure. However, in some cases, your doctor may instruct you to take antibiotics to keep your infection under control.
    • Apply ice packs. Your oral surgeon may advise you to use an ice pack right after your wisdom teeth removal surgery. The cold temperature will help you reduce swelling and promote the formation of blood clots.
    • Eat a soft diet. You don’t want to harm or bruise the extraction area, which is very tender after the surgery. So, be sure to consume foods that are soft in texture for at least three or four days after your wisdom tooth removal procedure.
    • Rinse your mouth with warm water. You can start doing it one day after your surgery has taken place. It will stimulate blood circulation to the affected area. You can also use warm salt water to gently rinse your mouth after meals. In addition, salt water will help you reduce pain and prevent infection.

    Don'ts after wisdom teeth removal

    • Avoid strenuous activity and exercise. Despite being a minor, outpatient procedure, wisdom teeth extraction still involves surgery, so it is important to keep the wound away from stress. By exercising, you may cause some unnecessary blood flow increase in that area, or you may end up injuring it. Do not exercise for at least three days after your surgery, or for a week if you had an impacted wisdom tooth extraction.
    • Do not gargle your mouth. Although you may get a bad taste in your mouth after your oral surgery, it is best to avoid gargling. An excessive amount of force may dislodge the newly formed blood clot, causing you to bleed again.
    • Do not brush your teeth the first day after your surgery. It may irritate the operated area and lead to infection. You can usually start brushing your teeth the second day following your tooth extraction.

    What food can you eat during wisdom teeth recovery?

    Usually, the best thing to do after wisdom tooth removal is to stick to a soft food regimen for a few days.

    Some good food choices include:

    • scrambled eggs
    • yoghurt
    • applesauce
    • mashed potatoes
    • soft noodles or pasta
    • all kinds of soups (they shouldn't be too hot)

    Stay away from:

    • crunchy, sticky or solid foods that can hurt the healing area such as nuts, cookies, chips, candy bars, etc.
    • spicy foods which may irritate the wound such as curry, garlic, red peppers and others
    • seeds and grains including rice, corn, quinoa, popcorn and so on
    • extremely hot food and drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages and cigarettes.

    For the first three days following your operation, make sure to eat small bites of soft foods, so you don't have to chew much. You can usually get back to a normal diet after a week or when you feel comfortable.

    Frequently Asked Questions

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