Millions of Americans get their wisdom teeth taken out every year. Should your dentist recommend wisdom tooth extraction, it’s best to get them removed as soon as possible to avoid deterioration of oral health. Wisdom teeth removal is serious oral surgery, and post-operative care is critical. Recovery from wisdom tooth extraction is different for everyone, but educating yourself on what to expect will help with a seamless recovery. For your convenience, we have outlined the various aspects of post-removal to give you a better idea of what your home care should entail.
Why Aftercare is Important
Most patients recover relatively quickly following wisdom tooth extraction, but post-operative care is essential to reduce any discomfort, pain, or complications like infection. Wisdom teeth removal will result in a small surgical site in your mouth with stitches or sutures keeping the wound closed. Protecting this surgical site is extremely important to successful recovery.
To prevent any unnecessary pain and swelling, carefully follow our aftercare tips.
- Keep the gauze over the sutures for at least 30 minutes. After that, remove and discard the pad.
- Avoid touching or rinsing around the surgical area. Doing so could dislodge the clot, causing dry sockets.
- Use ice or a cold compress on your face to reduce swelling and pain.
- Take your pain medication once you feel any pain or discomfort.
- Restrict activities and allow your body to rest.
- If you smoke, don’t smoke for 24 hours after the surgery.
It’s normal to have a bit of swelling around the face and mouth after surgery. Swelling and bruising is a common reaction to surgery and is part of the recovery process. Typically the swelling and bruising will not occur until 24 hours after the surgery and may continue to swell up for two or three days post-op. The amount of swelling is proportional to the surgery involved.
To reduce the presence of swelling, apply a cold compress or bag of ice on the sides of the face. It’s best to ice the site immediately following surgery, as icing will have little impact on swelling after a day or so. Jaw stiffness is also common following oral surgery, so don’t be alarmed if you still feel sore after a few days.
Bleeding after oral surgery is expected to a certain extent. It is not uncommon to see blood in your saliva, redness, or oozing from the surgical site.
To control excessive bleeding, rise or wipe out old clots on the surgical site and then firmly bite down on gauze for 30 minutes. Keep the gauze placed on top of the surgical site and avoid chewing on it. Chewing on the bandage will only increase the flow of saliva and increase the risk of injury to the oral sutures.
Should you continue bleeding, gently wipe away any old clots and instead bite down on a tea bag. Prop yourself up on a pillow and avoid any exercise to help minimize bleeding.
Immediately following surgery, you may find that you don’t have much of an appetite. While you may not want to eat, it’s essential to drink lots of liquids and stay hydrated. Drink from a glass and do not use a straw, as the sucking motion can dislodge clots.
When you feel up to it, incorporate high calorie and protein foods into your diet. Stay away from any foods that are hard, chewy, or sticky, and instead opt for soft foods that require minimal jaw movement. It’s best not to skip any meals, as the nourishment from food will help you recover and give you energy.
Your surgeon will likely prescribe you pain medication following surgery. It’s important to take your medicine as directed and avoid drinking alcohol or operating a vehicle. As time goes on, the pain should decrease.
Taking your prescribed antibiotics is crucial to recovering from oral surgery and will help ward off infection. If a rash or any unfavorable reaction occurs, discontinue the use of the antibiotics.
Contact the office regarding any more questions and concerns.
If you feel the pain is worsening, contact the office for further instruction.
Sutures are placed on the surgical site to minimize the amount of bleeding. Sometimes the sutures can dislodge or dissolve early. If this happens, don’t panic. Merely remove the suture and throw it away.
In the following week, sutures will be removed in a very short visit to the surgeon. This procedure does not require any anesthesia or needles and causes minimal discomfort.
Discoloration of the Skin
Discoloration and bruising are common following oral surgery. Blood flow beneath the surgical tissues causes black, blue, green, and yellow discoloration. Bruising can occur two or three days after surgery but should fade within 14 days. Avoid sun exposure until discoloration fades.
Vomiting and Nausea
Nausea and vomiting are common side effects following IV sedation, general anesthesia, and many pain medications. If you experience nausea or vomiting following surgery, it’s important to wait at least an hour before ingesting anything. After that, slowly sip on carbonated sodas or tea to help settle the stomach. If nausea and vomiting do not subside, contact the office for further instruction.
- Numbness of the lip, chin, and tongue is common following oral surgery. However, note that if these areas are numb, you will not feel it if you bite down on them.
- A small increase in temperature is also not uncommon following surgery. However, if high temperature persists, contact your doctor.
- Dizziness can occur following surgery. Take your time when moving around, and sit for at least one minute before standing up.
- When stretched, lips can crack and bleed if they are not adequately hydrated. Apply lip balm to keep this from happening.
- A sore throat and pain when swallowing is common. The swelling of muscles surrounding the neck and throat can cause discomfort when swallowing, but should usually subsite in two or three days.
- The stiffness of the jaw muscles can make it difficult to open your mouth for a few days after surgery. Stiffness is normal and should resolve itself over time.
Keep Your Mouth Clean
Vigorous rinsing should not occur until at least one day after surgery. Brushing your teeth the day of surgery is fine, but be gentle and avoid the surgical site. The day after surgery you should rinse your mouth with warm salt water at least 5-6 times daily to keep your mouth clean.
Everyone’s recovery time is different, but taking the necessary steps to ensure proper recovery will get you back on your feet in no time. Finding a reputable oral surgeon to perform surgery is another critical step in ensuring your safety. At Union City Oral Surgery, we strive to provide our patients with the best care using the latest surgical procedures. Owner Nancy Herbst has 25 years of experience in oral surgery and was named a Jersey Choice Top Dentist for 2018. Call (201) 601-9262 to learn more about our facility and procedures or to schedule an appointment today.