If you have never had a tooth pulled, it is common to be nervous about having your wisdom teeth extracted. It is true that these extractions are sometimes complicated, especially if the tooth is impacted or twisted. Thanks to modern dental technology, techniques, and pain management, there is no reason to worry. Here is what to expect after wisdom tooth extraction.
Immediately After Extraction
As soon as the tooth is out, we will carefully clean the socket, place stitches (if needed), and have you bite down on a piece of gauze. Leave the gauze in place as directed to encourage the formation of a blood clot.
If you were given only local anesthesia, with or without nitrous oxide, we will ask you to rest comfortably in the dental chair for a few minutes until you feel ready to go home. If you had IV sedation, you will go to a recovery room and monitored until you are ready to leave. Please note that IV sedation requires someone to drive you home.
We will provide detailed instructions at your appointment. In general, plan to spend the rest of your extraction day resting. Starting the next day, you can begin to ease back into your normal life. Some people are back at work or school within 24-48 hours, while others need a couple of extra days.
Do not drive for the first 24 hours if you had IV sedation. Do not engage in sports, heavy lifting, or any strenuous activity for the first few days, as these could dislodge the blood clot and slow your healing process.
Tobacco use raises the risk for complications, slows healing, and increases the chance of developing a painful dry socket. Try not to smoke for at least 72 hours. Avoid chewing tobacco for at least a week, as it introduces tobacco directly into the injured tissue.
Eating, Drinking, and Oral Hygiene
For the first 24 hours after your extraction, drink a lot of water and eat only very soft foods that require little or no chewing. Do not consume anything spicy or hot in temperature, alcohol, carbonated beverages, or caffeine. On the second day, you can start returning to your normal diet, being careful to avoid biting or chewing on the extraction site. Do not drink from a straw or eat anything hard, sticky, or chewy for a week. If you are on pain medications or antibiotics, do not drink alcohol until you finish your course of medicine, as the combination could be dangerous.
You can resume normal oral hygiene that day, being extremely cautious around the extraction site. For the first week, use warm saltwater to gently rinse your mouth after each meal.
Pain, Bleeding, Bruising and Stitches
It is normal to experience some pain and bleeding for the first day or so. Take your medications as directed to stay ahead of the pain, and bite down on gauze as needed to control bleeding.
You may have some bruising and facial swelling. Use an ice pack for 15 minutes per hour to control them. You should notice a significant improvement in swelling within three days, while bruising may not fully fade for a week or more.
If you have non-dissolving stitches, we will schedule a follow-up appointment to remove them. This takes just a few minutes and rarely requires anesthesia. If you have dissolving stitches, just be careful when brushing the extraction site until they are gone.
Though they are quite rare, complications are always possible. Call us immediately if you have any of the following signs:
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- New or worsening swelling after 72 hours
- Persistent bad taste that is not alleviated by a saltwater rinse
- Pus in the tooth socket
- Severe or worsening pain
- Uncontrollable bleeding or significant bleeding that lasts more than a day