Wisdom tooth removal is a common dental procedure for patients in their late teens or young adults in their early twenties. For many people, this third set of molars only partly emerge, or they impact other teeth. Sometimes, wisdom teeth over-erupt, meaning they grow too long or come in at an angle. Misaligned wisdom teeth can cause significant discomfort and are prone to infection.
Fortunately, a simple wisdom tooth extraction is generally an outpatient surgery, allowing patients to arrive and leave the same day. This procedure is suitable for fully erupted wisdom teeth. A complex extraction for impacted wisdom teeth may need IV sedation, which can impact your recovery timeline.
While wisdom tooth extraction recovery is usually straightforward, it can make for an uncomfortable few days. Certain actions can speed up recovery, ease discomfort, and reduce the risk of infection.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Recovery Timeline
People’s bodies recover from surgery differently according to their immune system and care routine. However, recovery is gradual, and there is a general timeline to help people understand the process.
The first stage in recovery begins when the procedure ends. For most wisdom tooth removal procedures, a local anesthetic is given to patients, meaning they’re aware of their surroundings at all times. If a general anaesthetic or IV sedation is used, the initial recovery can take a little longer as patients readjust post-sedation.
You’ll be given a piece of gauze to clamp between your teeth to help with blood clot formation. The blood clot protects the socket from infection and prevents nerve exposure, which could cause extreme discomfort. It is recommended that you keep the gauze in place for 2-3 hours after the procedure.
Initial discomfort and swelling are normal, and there is likely to be some bleeding. You can use ice packs to reduce inflammation and ease discomfort. You can also take over-the-counter medication.
Some people may require stitches to close their wounds after wisdom tooth extraction. These are taken out around a week post-procedure.
The wound from wisdom tooth removal won’t heal fully for several months so it is susceptible to infection. It’s vital that patients take extra care until their extraction wounds have been fully healed.
Methods to Aid Recovery After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Recovery will happen naturally, but some actions can speed up healing.
Ice and medication
In the days immediately after wisdom tooth removal, people experience swelling and bruising on their faces and near the tooth extraction area. Applying an ice pack intermittently over the swollen area’s cheek can help reduce inflammation and soothe discomfort.
Patients should follow the medication advice given to them by their dental surgeon. If antibiotics are prescribed, ensure that the full course is taken.
Sleep with an extra pillow
Sleeping is often a little uncomfortable following wisdom tooth extraction. Sleeping with an extra pillow helps to keep your head elevated, minimising swelling. It also provides additional cushioning for increased comfort.
Eat soft foods and liquids
Hydration and proper nutrition help patients to recover faster. However, your appetite may become suppressed immediately after wisdom tooth removal surgery. Solid foods may also be a struggle as they can dislodge the blood clots, causing bleeding and slowing recovery.
Eating soft foods and drinking healthy liquids is the correct approach. Some soft, nutritious foods to aid recovery include:
- Blended soup
- Mashed vegetables
- Mashed fruits
- Porridge oats
- Soft avocado
Cold foods are particularly helpful in reducing discomfort in the first few days after wisdom tooth removal. They can help to ease the swelling.
Things to Avoid After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Immediately after wisdom tooth removal, it’s important to let blood clots develop to begin the healing process. Avoiding certain activities, foods, and drinks is as important as consuming the right things to aid recovery. Avoid the following for at least 24 hours after surgery:
- Strenuous physical activities
- Drinking alcohol
- Drinking hot beverages
- Eating chewy foods
- Eating nuts, seeds, and hard foods
- Sucking on straws
Working and Driving After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
It’s generally recommended to take at least 1 to 2 days off school or work following your procedure. If possible, patients should avoid driving immediately after their surgery. However, you can drive after being given a local anaesthetic. If general anaesthetic or dental sedation was administered, patients shouldn’t drive for 48 hours.
Choosing the Right Dental Practice
Finding the right dental practice to carry out wisdom tooth extractions is crucial. At Available Dental Care, our state-of-the-art facility provides the perfect environment to handle a wide range of dental treatments, including wisdom tooth procedures.
We prioritise customer satisfaction, and we have an open communication policy, meaning there are no hidden costs or surprises. If you need a wisdom tooth consultation, get in touch with us today on (02) 4062 8763.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.