Surviving Oral Surgery: 13 Wisdom Teeth Recovery Tips

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Getting your wisdom teeth pulled is no walk in the park, but pretty much everyone has to do it. It’s a common surgery that’s basically a rite of passage for young adults. Wisdom teeth extraction is a surgical procedure to remove one or more wisdom teeth – the four permanent adult teeth located at the back corners of your mouth on the top and bottom. Your dentist may recommend that you have them removed if they cause pain or an infection, crowd other teeth, or get trapped (impacted) and can’t break through your gums. It can take three days to 2 weeks to fully recover after having your wisdom teeth removed. During this time, you may experience a swollen mouth and cheeks, some bleeding and some pain. If you or your child are planning to get your wisdom teeth removed, here are 13 wisdom teeth recovery tips to help!

13 Wisdom Teeth Recovery Tips

1. Proper Prep
Before getting your wisdom teeth removed, there are certain things you can do to ensure the post-surgery recovery is as smooth as possible. Your dental professional will give you a list of things you should do before and after the surgery, and feel free to ask them any question you may have to better prepare you. Drinking orange juice or eating oranges in the days leading up to the surgery is something that can help with pain and swelling afterwards.

2. Make Sure to Rest
Having your wisdom teeth removed isn’t a major procedure, but it’s still surgery and you need to rest to recover and heal. Although it’s tempting to get back to your regular routine as fast as possible, if you don’t take a few days off to rest and relax, you risk delaying the healing process. Exercising can be especially harmful, as working out too soon after surgery can cause swelling and bleeding. Take this into account when planning your surgery, and schedule it during a week where you can take a few days to recover.

3. Stock Up on Soft Foods
Your mouth will be quite sensitive as it recovers from wisdom teeth removal, so make sure to have lots of liquid and soft food on hand. You won’t have to chew these foods, which will reduce pain, and harder foods can cause damage or get trapped in the recovering area. Stick to foods like applesauce, yogurt, smoothies, soups, mashed potatoes, Jell-o and pudding. Focus on nutrient-rich soups and smoothies to help with healing.

4. Stay Away from Certain Foods
There are some foods you should avoid after wisdom teeth removal in order to reduce pain and irritation. Avoid acidic or spicy foods, alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, grains and seeds that could easily become trapped in the extraction site, and difficult-to-chew foods such as chips and jerky that can reopen the stitches and delay healing.

5. Keep Your Head Elevated
Elevating your head can speed up recovery, reduce swelling around the area and limit discomfort. Use pillows to prop your body at a 45-degree angle and keep your head above your heart as much as possible.

6. Rinse Your Mouth
Rinsing your mouth with salt and warm water is very important after wisdom teeth removal. Salt kills bacteria in the mouth and will keep the extraction site free of germs. It’s also a natural painkiller. Start rinsing the day after your operation, three times a day while you’re healing. You’ll experience less pain and swelling, and ensure your mouth doesn’t dry out.

7. Take Your Medication
You will be prescribed pain medication by your doctor, and it’s important to take it to help you heal as quickly as possible. Since you’ll still be affected by the anesthesia shortly after the procedure, set an alarm or have someone remind you to take your first dose. You’ll want to take it on time to alleviate the full force of the pain.

8. Use a Cold Compress
If you’re experiencing extreme pain and swelling, apply a cold compress to your face for the first few days. This will help keep swelling down and reduce the pain. Keep in mind that after 48 hours, ice won’t have any effect on the swelling, so switch to moist heat to reduce swelling further.

9. Control Bleeding with Gauze and Tea Bags
Bleeding is normal after wisdom teeth removal and you can use gauze to reduce the bleeding. After 12 hours, you can switch the gauze to a damp tea bag as tea leaves can reduce pain and encourage blood clotting.

10. Move Your Jaw Around
You’ll likely feel stiffness in your jaw after surgery – this is normal and nothing to worry about. Move your jaw around to work through stiffness, starting slowly but keeping it persistent. Think: opening and closing your mouth and moving your jaw from side to side. This will also stimulate blood flow to the extraction area and promote healing.

11. Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol
Smoking can delay healing by causing potential infection and increasing discomfort. It can also cause a dry socket because of the sucking motion involved. If you’re a smoker, try to avoid smoking during your recovery period. Drinking alcohol can also interfere with your mouth’s healing process, as well as the pain medication you’re given.

12. Don’t Drink From a Straw
Avoid drinking from a straw for at least a week or two after wisdom teeth removal. The sucking motion can dislodge the blood clot from the socket, causing more bleeding. Drink from a glass instead to ensure your recovery is as quick as possible.

13. Hot Foods Are a No Go
While you’re recovering, make sure to wait until your food is all the way cooled down before eating (especially soup!). Extremely hot temperatures in food and drink can put you at risk of burning where you just had surgery, which is something you really want to steer clear of.

Use these tips to recover from wisdom teeth removal as quickly as possible!

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Kate is a freelance writer with a background in fashion, beauty and wellness. When she’s not trying out new recipes, taking a hot yoga class, or curled up with a good book, you can find her blogging about lifestyle tips and entrepreneurialism at Layered Indulgence.

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