Wisdom teeth extraction is a common dental procedure performed to remove the third molars, also known as wisdom teeth. These teeth are located at the back of the mouth, one in each corner, and usually erupt between 17 and 25, though the timing can vary.
The main reason why wisdom teeth extraction is often necessary is that these teeth can cause various oral health problems due to a lack of space in the jaw. Here are some reasons why an extraction may be recommended:
- Impacted Teeth: Wisdom teeth may become impacted, meaning they don’t have enough room to emerge or develop fully. They may remain partially or fully trapped beneath the gum tissue or jawbone. Impacted teeth can cause pain, swelling, and infection.
- Crowding: In many cases, the jaw doesn’t have sufficient space to accommodate the extra teeth. As a result, the emerging wisdom teeth can push against the neighbouring teeth, causing crowding, misalignment, and potential damage to the adjacent teeth.
- Alignment Issues: Wisdom teeth can emerge at awkward angles or in the wrong direction. They may tilt forward, backward, or sideways, disrupting the teeth’ natural alignment. Crooked wisdom teeth can affect the bite, leading to discomfort and difficulties in proper oral hygiene.
- Infection and Gum Disease: The position and partially erupted state of wisdom teeth make them more susceptible to bacterial infection and gum disease. The partially erupted gum tissue around the wisdom teeth can create pockets that trap food particles and bacteria, increasing the risk of decay and gum infections.
- Cysts and Tumours: In some cases, a sac called a cyst may form around an impacted wisdom tooth. Cysts can damage the jawbone, adjacent teeth, and nerves. Rarely, tumours can also develop near impacted wisdom teeth, necessitating extraction.
Tips for Speeding Up the Recovery
Recovering from wisdom teeth removal requires careful attention to oral care and hygiene practices. Following the extraction, it’s essential to prioritise proper care to promote healing, prevent complications, and reduce discomfort. Here are some valuable tips for fast wisdom teeth removal recovery.
- Prevent Dry Socket
A dry socket is a condition that occurs when the blood clot that forms after tooth extraction becomes dislodged or dissolves prematurely, exposing the underlying bone and nerves. To prevent dry sockets:
- Avoid vigorous rinsing or spitting for the first 24 hours after surgery.
- Do not use straws, as the suction can dislodge blood clots.
- Follow your dentist’s instructions for gentle mouth rinsing after 24 hours.
- Keep Your Head Elevated for the First Three Days
Elevating your head while resting or sleeping helps reduce swelling and promotes better blood circulation, aiding healing. Prop yourself with pillows to elevate your head during the first three days of recovery.
- Ice Your Cheek(s) for the First 36 Hours
Applying ice packs or cold compresses on the outside of your cheek(s) for the first 36 hours after surgery can help reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort. Use the ice packs for 15-20 minutes, allowing for breaks in between.
- Rinse with Warm Salt Water
After 24 hours, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times daily. Mix one teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water. This rinse helps keep the extraction sites clean and minimises the risk of infection. Be careful not to rinse vigorously, which can disrupt the healing process.
- Reduce Inflammation
Your dentist may recommend over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or prescription pain medication to reduce inflammation and discomfort. Take these medications as directed to manage pain and swelling effectively.
- Don’t Let Your Mouth Dry Out
Keeping your mouth moist is essential for proper healing. Avoid excessive mouth breathing and take sips of water regularly to prevent dryness. Your dentist may recommend saliva substitutes or oral moisturising gels to alleviate dryness if necessary.
- Massage Your Jaw
Gentle jaw massages can help relieve muscle tension and stiffness that may arise after wisdom teeth removal. Use clean fingers to apply light pressure to the sides of your face and massage in a circular motion. Consult with your dentist before attempting any jaw exercises.
- Rest as Much as You Can
Rest is crucial for a smooth recovery. Avoid strenuous activities, exercise, and heavy lifting for the first few days. Give your body adequate time to heal and listen to your body’s signals for when to take breaks and rest.
Proper oral care and hygiene practices during the recovery period after wisdom teeth removal are vital for a healthy and comfortable healing process. The correct after-care offers the following benefits:
Proper Healing: Wisdom teeth extraction involves a surgical procedure that creates wounds in the oral tissues. Proper recovery measures, such as following post-operative instructions, promote healing. By following the tips provided by your dentist or oral surgeon, you create an environment that supports the natural healing process and allows your body to regenerate tissues and close the surgical site effectively.
Minimise Complications: Recovery tips are designed to minimise the risk of complications that can arise after wisdom teeth extraction. Following these guidelines
reduces the chances of developing infections, excessive bleeding, or other potential problems.
Manage Pain and Discomfort: Following the recommended tips for recovery helps you effectively manage pain and discomfort associated with wisdom teeth extraction. Pain management techniques, such as taking prescribed medications or using over-the-counter pain relievers as directed, applying ice packs to reduce swelling, and practising proper oral hygiene, can significantly alleviate discomfort during recovery.
Long-Term Oral Health: Proper recovery from wisdom teeth extraction contributes to your long-term oral health. Removing impacted or problematic wisdom teeth helps prevent future issues such as crowding, misalignment, infections, and damage to adjacent teeth.
Now that you know how to look after your wisdom teeth extraction site, you are ready to undergo surgery. Make an appointment with our oral surgeon at Studio Smiles and be prepared to remove your problematic wisdom teeth. Call us at 1300 025 113 to book an appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Precautions Should Be Taken While Removing Wisdom Teeth?As a patient, some precautions you should take while removing wisdom teeth include following pre-operative instructions provided by your dentist or oral surgeon, disclosing your complete medical history and any medications you are taking, discussing any concerns or allergies you have, and following post-operative instructions for proper healing and minimising complications.
How to Manage Pain During Recovery?Consider taking prescribed pain medication or over-the-counter pain relievers to manage pain after wisdom teeth extraction. Apply cold compresses to reduce swelling, rest with your head elevated, and follow post-operative instructions. Rinse with warm salt water, avoid irritants, and distract yourself with activities. If severe pain persists, contact your dentist for guidance.
Sleeping after wisdom teeth removal can be challenging due to discomfort and swelling. Here are some tips to help you sleep more comfortably:
- Find a comfortable sleeping position: Prop yourself up with pillows to elevate your head and upper body. This can help reduce swelling and alleviate pressure on the surgical site.
- Use extra pillows: Place pillows on both sides of your body to prevent rolling onto your side or stomach during sleep. This can help avoid putting pressure on the extraction site.
- Avoid sleeping on the surgical side: If possible, avoid sleeping on the side where the wisdom teeth were extracted. This can help minimise discomfort and reduce the risk of disrupting blood clots or causing bleeding.
- Apply cold compresses before bed: Use a cold pack or ice wrapped in a thin cloth and apply it to the outside of your face for 15-20 minutes before bed. This can help reduce swelling and numb the area, providing temporary relief.
- Minimise distractions: Create a calm and quiet environment to promote restful sleep. Keep the room dark, use earplugs or white noise machines to block out noise, and avoid stimulating activities before bedtime.
It’s important to note that everyone’s recovery experience is unique, and you should follow the specific recommendations provided by your dentist or oral surgeon. Contact your dental professional for guidance and assistance if you have any concerns or experience severe pain or complications during sleep.
After wisdom teeth extraction, it’s essential to properly care for your oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing. However, you must be cautious around the extraction sites to avoid disrupting the healing process. Here’s a general timeline for when you can resume brushing and flossing around the extraction sites:
- Wait for the initial 24 hours: Avoid brushing the teeth near the extraction sites for the first 24 hours after the surgery. This allows the blood clot to form and stabilise, promoting healing. However, gently rinse your mouth with warm saltwater after meals to keep the area clean.
- Begin gentle brushing: After the initial 24 hours, you can start gently brushing your teeth, including the extraction sites. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and be careful around the surgical area to avoid dislodging the blood clot or causing irritation. Brush the other areas of your mouth as you normally would.
- Be cautious with flossing: You should wait a few days before resuming flossing around the extraction sites. This allows the gum tissue to heal and reduces the risk of dislodging blood clots. Ask your dentist or oral surgeon for specific guidance on when it is safe to start flossing again.
Gradually increase intensity: As the healing progresses, you can gradually increase the intensity of brushing and flossing around the extraction sites. However, continue to be gentle and avoid excessive force or pressure that could disrupt the healing process.
It’s generally recommended to avoid using mouthwash or rinsing your mouth vigorously for the first 24 hours after wisdom tooth extraction. This initial period is essential for blood clot formation and stabilisation at the extraction sites, which is crucial for proper healing. However, after the first 24 hours, your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend using a mild saltwater rinse or a prescribed antimicrobial mouthwash to clean the extraction sites. This helps prevent infection and promotes healing.
If you experience bleeding from the extraction sites after wisdom tooth extraction, here are some steps you can take to manage it:
- Apply gentle pressure: Start by placing a clean, folded piece of gauze or a moistened tea bag over the extraction site. Bite down on it with firm but gentle pressure for about 20-30 minutes. The pressure helps promote blood clot formation and stops the bleeding.
- Avoid spitting or rinsing forcefully: Refrain from spitting or rinsing your mouth vigorously, which can dislodge the blood clot and prolong the bleeding. Instead, let the saliva and blood flow out naturally and use a gentle saltwater rinse if necessary.
- Avoid hot liquids and foods: Hot liquids and foods can increase blood flow to the extraction site and potentially prolong the bleeding. Stick to cool or lukewarm foods and beverages until the bleeding subsides.
- Bite on a cold compress: If bleeding persists, apply a cold compress to the outside of your face near the extraction site. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels and helps reduce bleeding. Wrap a clean cloth or ice pack in a thin towel and apply it for 15-20 minutes, with short breaks.
- Avoid strenuous activities: Doing strenuous activities can increase blood flow and potentially worsen the bleeding. Take it easy and avoid activities that could exert excessive pressure or strain on your body.
If the bleeding continues or is excessive, it’s essential to contact your dental professional for guidance.
After wisdom tooth extraction, eat soft foods like mashed potatoes, smoothies, yogurt, and scrambled eggs. Steam or boil vegetables until soft, and choose ripe, soft fruits. Include protein from sources like nut butter, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Enjoy cold foods for relief. Avoid hard, crunchy, spicy, chewy foods, carbonated drinks, and alcohol. Also, steer clear of hot foods and beverages.
After wisdom tooth extraction, avoiding hot beverages for the first 24 hours is generally recommended. Hot drinks can increase blood flow to the surgical site, potentially causing bleeding and prolonging healing. On the other hand, cold beverages can be soothing and provide temporary relief from discomfort and swelling. You can enjoy chilled water, cold milk, or cold non-acidic drinks, but avoid using straws, as the suction can dislodge blood clots and hinder healing.
The timing for when you can start eating solid foods again after wisdom tooth extraction varies depending on the individual and the complexity of the extraction. In general, it’s recommended to stick to a soft food diet for the first few days to allow the extraction sites to heal correctly. Typically, you can start gradually reintroducing soft solid foods into your diet after the first few days. However, listening to your body and paying attention to any discomfort or pain is essential. If you experience pain or difficulty while attempting to eat solid foods, it’s best to continue with a soft food diet until you feel more comfortable.