Dentist and patient in dental chairQuestion: I have heard that wisdom tooth removal is very painful and can heal longer than usual. What do I need to do after wisdom tooth removal?

Answer: Wisdom tooth removal is just like any regular tooth extraction; you need to care for the wound for a few days by not chewing on the area, avoiding hot foods and avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol. These are just three of the many ways to care for your wound after wisdom tooth removal.

What to do after wisdom tooth removal?

Wisdom tooth removal is just like any regular extraction however if there are complications like impaction of the wisdom tooth or irregular growth of your wisdom teeth then it may take longer for the dentist to remove your tooth/teeth. The longer the procedure is, the more complicated after care becomes.

In normal cases, wisdom tooth extractions are over in less than an hour. You will be able to go home, with assistance, and recover at home. You will surely be instructed to do the following:

  1. Avoid strenuous activities that can add pressure on the wound. Lifting heavy objects and straining can lead to bleeding of the open gum wound. It is advised that you excuse yourself from work or school for a day or two to help your body recover.
  2. Avoid brushing the area for at least a day. Just gargle with cold water to remove any food debris that gets stuck in the area. Never use a toothpick or floss to remove food particles. If there are sutures used to close the wound, inspect the area regularly. You may be instructed to come back to remove the sutures and to check for healing of your wound.
  3. Avoid chewing on the area. The wound will be inflamed and swollen for at least two or more days and could be very painful when you place food or drinks along the area.
  4. Avoid smoking which can only lead to bleeding and infection of the open wound. Smoking also affects your immune system so keep health and quit even before you schedule your wisdom tooth extraction. Avoid alcohol intake for at least a week after the extraction.
  5. Rest and relax. Resting will help the body function better in repairing tissues and mobilizing chemicals needed to reduce inflammation and for better and faster wound healing. Moving about and going back to work as soon as your procedure is over will only delay wound healing and increase the risk for complications like infection, pain and bleeding.
  6. Take your prescription medication. Your doctor will surely prescribe pain medications, medications to control bleeding and antibiotics which need to be taken for a week or more. Be sure to take your prescription as directed and to refill your prescription if needed.

Your doctor will also ask you to return for a check-up soon so be sure to come back on your appointment. He will possibly check on how your wound is healing and for any follow-up procedures.

  1. Contact your doctor for any problems; report fever, swelling that lasts for a week or more, bleeding, severe pain and pus formation on the wound site. Report for sutures that are removed or for any side effects of medications.

Men with medical case and tooth. DentistHere are tips on what to do after complicated wisdom tooth removal:

  1. Your doctor will ask you excuse yourself from work for three or more days to help you fully recover from your surgery/procedure. In complicated wisdom tooth removal, the extraction procedure may be extended due to problems with the angle or alignment of your wisdom teeth. Impaction, when the tooth does not erupt completely, may also be very complicated to remove. The presence of infection also increases the healing time of the wound; dentists may also postpone extraction until infection has been controlled completely. He may prescribe antibiotic treatment days before the scheduled extraction date.
  2. Extended extraction time would mean more or a stronger anesthetic was used. You must be accompanied by someone before and after the procedure. Avoid driving or operating machinery after the procedure. It will take time for the effect of anesthesia to wear off and you will experience drowsiness afterwards. Most dentists allow their patients to recuperate before they are allowed to go home.
  3. As with complicated dental procedures, there is an increased risk for bleeding, severe pain, swelling and infection. Your wound will surely be stitched with removable or absorbable sutures. If these need to be removed, your dentist will advise you when to return for the procedure. He will also advice you on how to care for your wound.
  4. Just like regular extractions, you are not allowed to chew on the area but since there is a larger wound, you may need to avoid eating hard food and hot food for at least a week to fully allow the wound to heal. You must only gargle to remove food debris on the area; do not brush or pick the wound with a toothpick.
  5. Swelling is common and could be very painful especially on the initial days after surgery. Using pain killers will help but you may also chew on ice bits to help ease pain and swelling. Allow the ice to melt on the area or use cold compresses (cold face towel) and place it on the cheek for relief. Report swelling that is too painful and tender; this may be an early sign of infection.
  6. Expect slight fever, swelling of lymph nodes and pain after a few days. Pain killers and fever medications will help control these but make sure that you follow your doctor’s advice on how to take these medications.
  7. Complicated wisdom tooth extractions need to be assessed regularly by your dentist. He will assess your wound for signs of infection and decide on further treatments if necessary.
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