How to Care for Your Mouth Following Wisdom Tooth Surgery for Faster Healing

BY: Dr. Sandeep Sharma
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How to Care for Your Mouth Following Wisdom Tooth Surgery for Faster Healing

How to Care for Your Mouth Following Wisdom Tooth Surgery for Faster Healing

In 2015, a study found that the number of Australians hospitalised for impacted wisdom tooth removal was seven times higher than in the UK. This means that an increasing number of people are opting to have their wisdom teeth removed.

Wisdom tooth removal is a common surgical procedure performed in a dental clinic to remove wisdom teeth that have become impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth can cause pain, crowding of teeth and infection. The first 24 hours after wisdom tooth surgery are crucial for promoting healing. You must follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions during this time to avoid complications.

Read on to know more about how to take care of your mouth after wisdom tooth surgery, including the types of food you should avoid and a brief background about wisdom teeth.

What Is a Wisdom Tooth?

What Is a Wisdom Tooth?

Wisdom teeth or the third molars are the last set of teeth that erupt in adults. Most people get theirs during their late teens or early twenties, usually from 17 to 25 years of age. They are referred to as wisdom teeth since they appear at an older or more mature age when wisdom is thought to be gained.

For some people, their wisdom teeth appear later in their lives, in their late 20s or early 30s. For others, they never come in at all, or only one or two erupt. Unfortunately, for some, wisdom teeth can cause problems even before they come in.

Many dentists don’t recommend removing wisdom teeth as long as they don’t cause any problems. But surgery may be the only option for impacted wisdom teeth.

Impacted wisdom teeth are third molars that don’t have enough space to come in, so they grow in at an angle or not at all. When this occurs, the tooth can get stuck (impacted) against other teeth, which results in pain, crowding, and infection. In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth can damage other teeth or bones. To avoid these consequences, your dentist will recommend removing them through surgery.

What Happens During an Impacted Wisdom Tooth Surgery?

When a wisdom tooth becomes impacted, it is trapped beneath the gum line and cannot erupt through the surface. Impacted teeth can cause pain, swelling, and other problems, which is why they must be removed surgically. There are a variety of ways that dentists perform dental surgery, but most of them follow these procedures:

  1. Your dentist will administer anesthesia to make you comfortable during the procedure. This can be through general anesthesia, sedation or local anesthesia.

  2. Your dentist will make a small cut in your gum to access the wisdom tooth during surgery.

  3. In some cases, moving the gums away is enough to remove the tooth. However, in cases where the tooth is still covered by bone, the dentist must remove the bone before trying to extract the tooth. Other cases may also require that the tooth be cut in pieces for ease of removal.

  4. After the tooth is extracted, your dentist will close the area with stitches.

  5. After your procedure, you will be taken to a recovery room, where they monitor you for any complications.

Wisdom tooth surgery usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. However, it may take longer if more than one wisdom tooth needs to be removed or if the tooth is impacted.

Keeping Your Mouth Clean After Wisdom Tooth Removal

As mentioned above, the first 24 hours after wisdom tooth surgery are the most critical for promoting healing. During this time, it is important to control the bleeding and swelling. Also, keeping the wound and your mouth clean to prevent infection is crucial. Here are a few measures on how to keep your mouth clean:

  • Twenty-four hours after surgery, you may begin rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater to flush out any debris lodged in the wound area. Repeat this process several times a day, especially after meals. To make salt water, add a teaspoon of salt to a small glass of warm water.

  • Brush your teeth gently with a soft toothbrush. Avoid brushing the surgical area.

  • Use alcohol-free mouthwash to reduce bacteria in your mouth.

  • Drink plenty of fluids and eat soft foods.

What Should I Avoid Following the Wisdom Tooth Removal?

After the surgery, it’s important to avoid certain foods and activities that can cause bleeding or swelling. These include:

  • Hot beverages.
    Since hot beverages cause the blood vessels to dilate, drinking them increases the risk of rebleeding. Avoid them for at least 24 to 48 hours after the surgery.

  • Smoking.
    Smoking may increase your risk of infection and slow down healing. Although it is not recommended as it’s bad for the health, you should avoid it for at least three days after your wisdom tooth extraction. This allows time for blood clots to form and promotes healing.

  • Strenuous activity.
    Regular exercise or other strenuous activity can increase blood pressure and cause bleeding. Patients are advised to avoid them for at least 72 hours after wisdom tooth surgery.

  • Brushing the surgical area.
    Brushing is needed to maintain good oral hygiene, but do it gently and avoid the surgical site. Otherwise, it can cause bleeding and irritation.

  • Avoid using a toothpick or any other sharp objects in your mouth.
    These can damage the surgical site and delay healing.

  • Spicy, sticky and crunchy food.
    These foods can cause irritation and bleeding in the surgical area. They should be avoided until your wound has healed completely.

  • Alcohol.
    Alcohol can hinder your healing and increase your risk of infection. So, it’s advised that you avoid it at least 7 to 10 days after the surgery.

What Are the Types of Food I Can Eat After Wisdom Tooth Removal?

After your wisdom tooth surgery, it’s recommended that you eat soft foods that are easy to chew. You must also consume a vitamin- and mineral-rich diet to promote healing.

Here are some examples of soft foods you can eat:

  • Mashed potatoes

  • Scrambled eggs

  • Yogurt

  • Smoothies

  • Applesauce

  • Cottage cheese

  • Soup

  • Mac and cheese

  • Ice cream

  • Broths

  • Scrambled eggs

  • Mashed bananas

Note that hard and crunchy foods can cause irritation, bleeding, and pain in the surgical area. You can start returning to your normal diet 3 to 5 days after the surgery, but it may take longer for some people.

Make sure to eat soft food first and gradually add harder food as you heal. It’s important to listen to your body and eat according to what you can tolerate. Most importantly, always ask your dentist if unsure and follow their instructions.

Can I Drink Water Following the Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure?

Can I Drink Water Following the Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure?

Yes, you can drink water after the surgery. In fact, you should stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. However, remember to avoid using a straw as the sucking action can cause the blood clot to be dislodged and increase the risk of bleeding and dry socket in the surgical area. Also, avoid hot beverages as they can cause re-bleeding too.

How Long Does the Healing Period from Wisdom Teeth Extractions Take?

The recovery period is different from person to person. It takes about two weeks for most people to recover completely and comfortably do their normal activities. Still, it may take longer for some people, especially if the surgery is complicated.

The following are normal post-operative occurrences that usually go away on their own after your oral surgery:

  • Numbness in your lips, teeth, tongue, and chin.
    This is caused by the anesthesia and should go away after a few hours.

  • Swollen mouth and cheeks.
    This is expected, and it usually lasts for 3 to 5 days. An effective way to control swelling is to apply an ice pack around the area immediately after surgery and alternately put it on and off every 20 minutes.

  • Mild to moderate pain and discomfort.
    The pain may be worse if the surgery is complicated. The dentist will prescribe pain medications to help manage the pain.

  • Bleeding.
    There may be slight bleeding for the first 24 hours after the surgery. To control the bleeding, bite on a gauze pad for 30 minutes.

  • Bruising.
    You may notice bruising or discolouration in your skin 2-3 days after your surgery. This is usually caused by the spreading of blood underneath the tissues. It should resolve within 7 to 10 days.

Possible Consequences if You Don't Follow the Post-Wisdom Tooth Surgery Instructions

If you don’t follow your dentist’s post-surgery instructions, you may experience the following complications:

Dry Socket

This complication occurs when the blood clot that forms in the socket after surgery is dislodged, exposing the tissues and nerves underneath. This can cause severe pain and delay healing. Brushing your teeth too vigorously the day after your surgery or drinking through a straw can cause a blood clot to dislodge.

Infection

An infection can develop if food particles and bacteria are not removed from the surgical area. This is why it is recommended that the area be cleaned by rinsing your mouth with salt water and gently brushing your teeth. Signs of infection include:

  • Fever
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Increased pain
  • Pus drainage
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive bleeding
Damage to the Nerve

The wisdom tooth is located close to the nerve that runs down your jaw. If the tooth is not removed properly, it could damage the nerve, which can cause numbness or tingle in your tongue, teeth, lips, and chin. In some cases, the damage may be permanent.

Damage to Your Other Teeth

The tooth adjacent to the wisdom tooth may be damaged or decayed if proper care is not taken after wisdom tooth surgery. For instance, bacteria can build up and cause cavities or gum disease if you don’t clean your teeth properly.

Final Thoughts

Wisdom teeth removal is recommended in cases wherein the wisdom tooth is causing pain, infections, or damage to your other teeth. Though invasive, this dental procedure is generally safe, and complications are rare, especially if you follow your dentist’s instructions. Recovery from wisdom teeth surgery takes about two weeks but could take longer for some individuals. During your recovery, you may experience transient numbness, swelling, bruising, pain, and bleeding, but these usually resolve on their own in a few days.

Are your wisdom teeth causing you problems? Get in touch with us by dialling 08 9345 0455 for our Yokine dental clinic and 08 9452 8877 for our Maddington branch. We can help you determine if you need to have your wisdom teeth removed and help you through the surgery and recovery process. Both our Yokine and Maddington branches have a team of dentists providing exceptional wisdom tooth removal services. Aside from this treatment, we also offer other services, including dental emergencies, because we understand that not all problems can wait.

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