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Wisdom Teeth Removal Recovery Time- What to Expect After Surgery

Wisdom Teeth Removal Recovery Time- What to Expect After Surgery

Recovery from wisdom teeth surgery is a concern for most patients.  This is especially true if you are planning your surgery around school, sports or work.  The good news about recovering from wisdom teeth extraction is, for most patients, recovery time is fairly predictable.  Most patients are able to return to work or school within just a few days, and back to normal physical activity after about a week. Part of understanding your recovery process involves recognizing what to expect, what is normal and what is not normal after wisdom teeth surgery.

Bleeding After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Some bleeding after wisdom teeth surgery is normal and to be expected.  Minor bleeding, or “oozing” from the extraction site is normal for the first 12-24 hours.  You should manage this by applying pressure by biting down on a gauze pack.  Make sure the gauze pack is positioned over the extraction site, both to absorb the bleeding and ensure you are applying pressure. Change the gauze packs as needed, and avoid falling asleep with them in your mouth.  Discoloration of your saliva(pinkish or brownish) is normal for up to a few days after surgery, and does not indicate persistent or abnormal bleeding. Contact your doctor if bleeding is heavy, uncontrolled or appears as a clot of “grape jelly”. Bleeding problems are uncommon, but if you feel you are having an unusual amount of bleeding, it is always best to contact your doctor for advice.  It is recommended to rest, with head elevated for the first day or two following wisdom teeth removal.  Avoid sucking on straws, spitting, or blowing into a musical instrument. Exercise or too much physical activity can aggravate bleeding, so be sure to rest.

Swelling After Wisdom Teeth Surgery

Swelling is normal, and to be expected, after having your wisdom teeth out.  Every patient is a little different, so some patients will have more swelling than others. If you normally have swelling associated with a bump, bruise or other injury, you can definitely expect to have swelling following wisdom teeth extraction.  Most swelling is minor, but noticeable in your face along your jawline and cheeks.  Expect swelling to begin any time after surgery, and to progress during the first four days post-operatively.  You should notice improvement in the swelling beginning around the 6th day after surgery, and improvement each day thereafter. You can use a cold compress (ice pack) on your jaw only during the first 24 hours following your extractions. Use the compress for 10 minutes every half-hour.  After the first day, the cold-compress is not recommended.

Wisdom Teeth Pain

Discomfort can be expected following your wisdom teeth removal.  Most discomfort is minor and can be controlled with over-the-counter analgesics such as Tylenol and Advil. Sometimes prescription pain medicine is prescribed.  Discomfort is usually most significant right after the numbness wears off on the day of surgery, and then can increase on day 2-4.  Make sure you are taking pain relievers according to instructions in order to achieve the best results.  Most discomfort from wisdom teeth extraction begins to diminish by the 6th day, and improves each day after that. Keep your teeth clean by brushing gently and using a warm salt water rinse or prescription mouth rinse (if prescribed), especially after meals.  Stay on a very soft or blended diet to help prevent food particles from becoming lodged in your extraction sites. Avoid smoking or vaping, which interferes with healing.  Follow the home care instructions provided by your doctor, as they are designed to help minimize post-operative discomfort.

Knowing what to expect following your wisdom teeth removal surgery can help you prepare for it, understand what is normal, and help you anticipate and prepare for the days ahead.  Following your home care instructions explicitly, and for the length of time prescribed, will help you have the smoothest post-operative course possible. If you have concerns about whether your post-operative symptoms are normal, it is always a good idea to reach out to your doctor for advice and guidance.  Serious complications following wisdom teeth removal are rare, and most minor complications can be avoided by maintaining an appropriate diet, keeping the area clean, resting, and following your home care instructions.

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