Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last permanent teeth to erupt through the gums. In some cases, a wisdom tooth can become stuck below the surface of your gums, causing it to grow at an angle with complications. If the emergence causes pain or risk of cavities, overcrowding that may damage an adjacent tooth or surrounding bone, infection, or disease, your dentist may recommend wisdom tooth removal.
After the Operation
It takes about two weeks to fully recover following a wisdom tooth removal procedure. During this time, you should expect:
- Inflammation or swelling of your cheeks and mouth
It is more pronounced in the first couple of days, but improves gradually. You can reduce the swelling by placing an ice pack on the outside of your cheek for 15 – 20 minutes at a time for the first 24 hours.
For the first 3-4 hours after surgery, you won’t experience any pain. But once the anesthetic wears off, you should take painkillers to ease the pain for the first 24-48 hours.
- A stiff, sore jaw
This wears off within 7 – 10 days, though bruised skin around the jaw may take up to 2 weeks to fully recover.
Infection is typically characterized by swelling which has started to increase after initially decreasing, a foul taste in the mouth and occasionally accompanied with development of a fever. If you suspect that you may have an infection consult your dentist immediately.
- Numbness or tingling of your lips, tongue
Numbness or tingling is a rare complication of wisdom tooth removal, which usually disappears after a few days or weeks. However, any lingering tingling or numbness after the first day should be reported to your dentist.
Complications rarely occur after wisdom-tooth surgery, though you will probably experience pain and swelling in the first couple of days. As such, it’s important that you schedule the surgery when you have a few days off for rest and recovery. It is also important to attend your postoperative appointment one week later; this allows the dentist to remove any stitches and confirm normal healing.
After the Surgery
- Rest as much as you can while keeping your head at an elevated position to prevent bleeding.
- Bite gently on a gauze pad periodically, and change the pads as they get soaked with blood. Switch to a damp tea bag after 12 hours. Tea leaves are claimed to reduce pain and promote clotting. If you’re still bleeding after 24 hours, contact your dentist.
- Be careful not to bite your lip, tongue, or inside of your mouth for the fast few hours after surgery when your face is still numb.
- Eat liquid and soft foods, such as thin soup and pudding for the first few days, and gradually incorporate hard foods as the healing progresses.
- After the first 24 hours, rinse your mouth several times a day using a salt and warm water solution. This is particularly important after drinking or eating to reduce pain and swelling.
You can continue brushing and flossing your teeth and tongue carefully, but try to avoid touching or rubbing the area with your tongue or finger.