An impacted wisdom tooth is one of the most painful dental issues you can suffer from. When a wisdom tooth becomes impacted, it will cause severe pain, swelling, and infection. An impacted wisdom tooth extraction is the only option for finding relief from the pain and getting rid of the swelling and infection.
Recovering From an Impacted Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Before undergoing a wisdom tooth extraction procedure, your dentist will provide you a list of things to do and not to do. It is important that you follow these instructions to avoid getting an infection after the surgery and to speed up your recovery.
Additionally, you also have to follow all aftercare instructions your dentist gives you to facilitate proper healing and prevent any complications (which include the development of a dry socket).
A dry socket is one of the most common complications that can occur after a wisdom tooth extraction. A dry socket develops when the newly formed blood clot dissolves or becomes displaced, causing the bone and nerve endings to become exposed. This causes severe pain in the affected area.
A dry socket also comes with other unpleasant symptoms that include:
- Low-grade fever
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck area
- Visible bone within the socket
- Bad breath
- Recurring unpleasant taste in the mouth
To avoid the development of a dry socket and to reduce pain and discomfort during the recovery stage, make sure you follow these aftercare tips:
1. Reduce swelling
Swelling is a normal reaction to the surgery. The swelling usually reaches its peak after 24 hours and then begins to subside. After two or three days, you can expect the swelling to be gone.
To reduce swelling, bruising, or any discomfort, apply an ice pack to the outside of your mouth intermittently. This means applying it on the outside part of the affected area for 20 minutes, then removing it and waiting for another 20 minutes before applying it on again. You should do this for at least two days.
In case your tooth was infected prior to the extraction, your dentist may ask you to use a warm, moist compress instead of an ice pack.
2. Control bleeding
Some oozing of blood may occur during the first few hours after the surgery. To control the bleeding, keep the gauze pad placed by the dentist over the extraction site for 30 minutes after the procedure.
In case you notice heavy bleeding, try biting down on a gauze pad or placing your fingers over the pad continuously for 30 minutes before removing it. Once you’re home, you can place a moistened tea bag over the affected area for 30 minutes as well. Tea contains tannic acid which will help contract the bleeding vessels and initiate blood clotting.
Make sure you also avoid spitting excessively since you will end up dislodging the blood clot from the socket.
3. Follow the recommended post-surgery diet
Once the bleeding stops, drink lots of lukewarm or cold water to stay hydrated. Do not drink alcoholic, caffeinated, carbonated, and hot beverages within the first 24 hours after the surgery since these beverages can affect the post-recovery process. In addition, avoid using a straw when drinking for at least a week since this may dislodge the blood clot from the socket.
Make sure you eat only soft foods a few hours after the surgery. Examples are yogurt, puddings, gelatins, and mashed potatoes. Avoid chewy, hard, and hot foods, including popcorn and peanuts, since some particles might get stuck in the socket and irritate the wound.
4. Be gentle when cleaning your mouth
Most general dental practitioners recommend avoiding brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash for the first 24 hours after the surgery. Your dentist will tell you when you can go about your oral hygiene practices again.
However, you still need to be gentle when brushing your teeth, especially near the surgical wound. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush in the meantime. You would also do well to rinse your mouth with salt water after meals to hasten the healing of the wound.
5. Take the prescribed medications and get plenty of rest
If your dentist prescribes pain medications and antibiotics, take them exactly as recommended.
Make sure you take it easy if you are given heavy painkillers. Always get plenty of rest and sleep since these two will help speed up your healing process. While on medication, avoid alcoholic beverages as well.
It will take you several days or even a week to recover fully from a wisdom tooth extraction. Following the aftercare tips above and your dentist’s instructions, however, can speed up the healing process.