So you’ve bitten the bullet and finally had those painful wisdom teeth removed. What now?
What to expect after wisdom tooth removal
While the wisdom tooth removal procedure is over in a couple of hours, recovery can take longer. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be back to normal in no time.
If you are having your wisdom teeth removed you may feel discomfort for three to four days afterwards. You’re likely to feel some pain, your jaw may swell and painkillers may make you sleepy. Try to arrange some leave from work to rest during this time.
It is a good idea to start taking an over the counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen, before your anaesthetic wears off. The pain will be harder to control if you wait until it is very uncomfortable. Keep taking the pain killers for at least the first 48 hours. If your dentist gives you a prescription for pain relief you may alternate the two types of medication.
As the swelling in your jaw reduces, your pain will also ease. If you are still experiencing pain and swelling after five days please see your doctor.
What is dry socket?
As your mouth heals, a blood clot will form over the wound. Dry socket can occur when this blood clot becomes dislodged, exposing the bone underneath. If this happens, it can take several more weeks for you to heal.
If you develop dry socket it will need to be treated professionally. Your dentist will place medicated gauze inside the tooth socket. This should relieve your pain within a couple of days, however if your pain persists you may need to return to your dentist to have new gauze applied.
Caring for your stitches
During your wisdom tooth removal your dentist may need to close your wound with stitches. These will dissolve within a few weeks. Gauze will be packed firmly over the site to help the bleeding stop. It is important to change the gauze regularly, before the blood seeps through. Once your bleeding has stopped you can remove the gauze.
Reducing your swelling
Your jaw may be swollen for the first two to three days after surgery. Ice packs are useful in reducing the swelling of your jaw, and can be applied for twenty minutes on and twenty minutes off. Try to do this several times each day for at least the first 48 hours.
Antibiotics and nerve damage
You may also be prescribed an antibiotic. Often you will start taking this medication before your surgery and complete the course afterwards. It is important to take this medication if you are prescribed it, as it will reduce the risk of nerve damage. While nerve damage is rare, it can affect the lips, chin or tongue in about 1% of people undergoing wisdom tooth removal. Generally nerve damage resolves by itself, however occasionally the damage can be permanent.
Brushing your teeth
Avoid brushing your teeth for 24 hours after surgery. After this you can start to brush gently, rinsing with salt water or an antibacterial mouthwash.
Follow your dentist’ directions and within a few weeks your mouth will be completely healed.