Even the removal of non-wisdom teeth can be traumatic for people, and to make things easier, it’s very important to take good care during the healing process and follow the post-operative plan. This is especially important if we’re talking about the extraction of the wisdom teeth, since this is a very simple procedure, that often times gets unnecessary complicated. The chances of complications can be greatly reduced if you follow these recommendations very carefully.
Right after the extraction procedure
After the surgery, your dentist will place gauze pads over the surgical area, and those should be kept there for about an hour. After that, they can be removed and thrown away. In case the bleeding doesn’t stop, new ones should be placed and gentle pressure should be applied, which you can do by biting on the gauze. When they become saturated with blood, which you’ll notice easily, they should be removed or replaced. Once the bleeding stops or is very slow, that’s when you should stop relying on the gauze, since it’s normal for the wound to bleed a little bit for as long as even 48 hours after the procedure. While the gauze pads are necessary, you can leave them in while drinking, but you should remove them before eating to avoid swallowing.
After the surgery, sutures will be placed to the area where the tooth used to be, to reduce the bleeding and to promote the healing process. If they get dislodged somehow, that’s okay, just remove them from your mouth, since they would certainly dissolve anyway.
Things you should avoid include any aggressive pressure on the wound, such as brushing excessively or rinsing your mouth, as well as generally touching the area, which may provoke bleeding or affect the blood clot. If your dentist prescribed an antibiotic, you can start using it as soon as tomorrow, the day after the surgery, and you can also start taking painkillers as soon as the anesthetic wears off and you start feeling pain. You should also avoid your regular activities prior to the surgery, and as for resuming them, that depends on each and every specific case and you should discuss it with your dentist.
The swelling in this situation is completely normal, and even certain in most cases. The areas such as around the mouth, eyes or cheeks will probably be swollen afterwards, which is the body’s natural reaction to the procedure. It may not be visible until the day after the surgery and it reaches it’s full potential about 3 days after it, which is nothing to be concerned about.
What you can do about is use ice packs immediately after the procedure, right on the area where it was performed and the rule of thumb here is – 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off. The second day following the procedure, ice packs no longer have an impact on swelling, however, they do help control the pain, so you can feel free to continue using them. Swelling can last up to even 14 days after the surgery, which is completely normal, although, of course, discomforting.
For moderate amount of pain, you can use over-the-counter pain medication, such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen or Tylenol, every 4 to 6 hours, depending on the severity of it.
For anything above mild pain, you should take the prescription medicine as directed. That being said, due to it’s numbing effects, they can make you feel woozy and they can slow you and your reflexes down. Do not operate any sort of mechanics, especially vehicles, and eliminate alcohol consumption during that period. Just as swelling, pain is also a completely normal procedure aftermath and it usually peaks in 3 to 5 days. Following that, it should start subsiding and eventually be gone in 10 to 14 days.
Following the surgery, you should take in a lot of liquids, straight from the glass and avoid using straws, since the motion of sucking on them can dislodge the blood clot formed.
For the first few days food intake should be restricted and compensated with fluids, all in order to keep the food away from the wound. High protein intake is very necessary, which also means high calorie intake and try not to miss any meals, since eating well will help you heal a lot faster.
Try to keep your mouth clean but be careful not to apply too much pressure when brushing or flossing. The day after the surgery, you can start rinsing your mouth a few times a day, especially after meals. For this you can use warm salt water, or some kind of a mouth rinse, if you were prescribed one.
If you were prescribed antibiotics in order to prevent the infection, take them as directed and try to take them right after your meals, in order to prevent taking them on an empty stomach.
Some patients report discoloration that follows swelling, which is also normal, and the discoloration can be blue, black or yellow and it should disappear 2 to 3 days after the procedure. Sometimes, it even moves further away from the wound, to neck or even chest area, and if this is the case, you can apply heat to speed up the subsiding process.
In case of nausea or vomiting, avoid intaking anything, including the medication, and limit liquids to water or ginger ale which you should be drinking slowly. They should not be present at all, except for the day on which the procedure was done on, and if they do, contact your dentist for further instructions.
Numbness of certain areas, such as lips, tongue or cheeks, is also normal and temporary and should not last longer than a day. Same with stiffness, or the jaw discomfort, which can last for up to 14 days after the procedure. Slight fever is also a possibility, but if you’re using the painkillers, you’re most likely not even going to feel the symptoms. If you do, they might be a slight temperature elevation and sore throat, as well as difficulty to swallow.
No two dental cases are ever the same, and although the healing process will be different for everyone, these are some common things you can expect until you’re completely healed. Keep in mind this information and follow all recommendations in order to avoid any unnecessary complications, and you’ll be ready to continue with your normal activities in no time!