The Recovery Period After Wisdom Teeth Removal: What to Expect?

BY: Dr. Sandeep Sharma
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The Recovery Period After Wisdom Teeth Removal: What to Expect?

Wisdom teeth removal is a relatively common oral surgery procedure. It involves the removal of one or more of the wisdom teeth, which are the third molars in the back of your mouth. While the procedure is usually straightforward, the recovery period can be a bit uncomfortable.

Here’s a comprehensive overview of wisdom teeth removal and what you can expect during the days and weeks following your surgery.

Wisdom Tooth Removal: A Brief Background

Wisdom teeth are the third and last molars to erupt in adults. Typically, wisdom teeth come in between the ages of 17 to 25. Sometimes, they can appear later in life, which is also normal. They are called wisdom teeth since they come later in life when a person is thought to be wiser. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, while some don’t have any. Dental Research Journal says that 5 to 37 per cent of people don’t have one or more wisdom teeth. The reason is unknown, but it could involve genetics. So, if your parents don’t have wisdom teeth, you may not have them either.

It’s important to note that just because you cannot see your wisdom teeth doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Only an X-ray can reveal their presence or absence. If you have them but haven’t erupted yet, your dentist will closely monitor their growth to see if they need to be removed.

Wisdom teeth removal is a common dental procedure not only in Australia but all over the world. In a journal published in 2015, an estimated five million individuals in the United States get wisdom tooth removal every year. On the other hand, International Dental Journal says that a 2013 record shows Australia has the highest hospitalisation rate in the world due to wisdom teeth extraction.

Reasons to Remove Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth that adults get in their late teens or early twenties. For some people, wisdom teeth come in without any problems. However, for many others, they may cause a variety of problems. As a result, it is often recommended that wisdom teeth be removed. The following are some common reasons your wisdom teeth need removal.

  • They are impacted.
    Wisdom teeth that grow at an angle and press against the adjacent teeth are called impacted teeth, and they can cause pain, infection, or gum disease. Impaction of molars occurs when there isn’t enough space in your mouth for them. When this happens, they can only partially come out of the gum or not come out at all.

  • They partially erupt.
    Partial eruption of impacted wisdom teeth occurs when they have broken through the gum, but only a portion of the tooth’s crown can be seen, and the rest is trapped by the bone of the surrounding teeth. This can cause pain and an infection called pericoronitis.

  • They cause tooth crowding.
    The wisdom teeth are the last ones to emerge, so most do not have adequate space to grow. If these teeth attempt to push their way through, they can cause crowding of the other teeth. In this case, removing the wisdom teeth can help relieve the crowding.

  • To Improve Oral Hygiene
    If your wisdom teeth are hard to clean because they are growing at an angle or impacted, you may be more likely to develop cavities or gum disease. When this happens, removing the wisdom teeth can help improve your oral hygiene.

  • There is a risk of infection.
    There is a risk of infection if you have an impacted or partially erupted wisdom tooth. This is because food and bacteria can get trapped around the tooth. If you have an infection, it can cause pain, swelling, and fever.

  • You have cysts or tumours.
    Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form around the wisdom teeth. If left untreated, they can damage the jawbone and the surrounding teeth. Tumours are rare, but they can also form around wisdom teeth. Both cysts and tumours need to be removed.

What Happens During the Wisdom Tooth Removal

Wisdom tooth removal is a common dental procedure that usually takes about an hour and can be done under local anesthesia, sedation or general anesthesia. The following are the common steps in wisdom tooth removal.

  1. Once the anaesthesia has taken effect, your dentist will make an incision in your gum tissue to expose the tooth and bone.

  2. Your dentist will remove the tooth and any bone surrounding it. In some cases, they may need to cut the tooth into smaller pieces before removing it.

  3. Once the tooth has been removed, your dentist will clean the area and close the incision with stitches.

  4. After the procedure, patients will be closely monitored for any complications such as bleeding.

  5. Pain medication and instructions on how to care for the extraction site will be given.

Recovery from wisdom tooth removal usually takes a few days, and pain and swelling can be controlled with medication. Keeping the area clean and free of debris helps promote healing.

What to Expect During the Recovery Process of Wisdom Tooth Removal

After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will be closely monitored. If you were put to sleep for the procedure, you’d wake up a few hours after, and they’ll determine if they can send you home. Regardless of the kind of anaesthesia you receive, you will need someone to drive you home because, at this time, you might still be drowsy.

During your recovery process, the following conditions may occur beginning right after the procedure:

  • You may experience some pain and swelling, which is normal.
    Your dentist will give you a pain reliever to help manage these. The swelling usually peaks two to three days after the procedure and then begins to subside.

  • Your gums may also be sore where the incisions were made.
    This should go away within a week. You can help promote healing by eating soft foods and avoiding acidic or spicy foods. In addition, brush your teeth gently and avoid flossing the area where the wisdom teeth were extracted.

  • You may find it difficult to open your mouth to talk and eat.
    Difficulty in opening the mouth is not uncommon after wisdom teeth removal. The soft tissue surrounding the area where the tooth was removed swells after the procedure, making it difficult to open the mouth. The swelling will usually subside after a few days, but it may take a week or two for the full range of motion to return. In the meantime, you can try using an ice pack or eating soft foods to help make it easier to open your mouth.

How Long Is the Recovery Period of Wisdom Tooth Removal?

It may take two weeks to fully recover from a wisdom teeth removal procedure. Here is a closer look at the timeline of the recovery period:

  • Day of wisdom tooth removal: You will have the procedure done and then recover from the anaesthesia.

  • Days 1-2: You may experience pain and swelling. The swelling will peak on day 2 or 3.

  • Days 3-5: The pain and swelling should start to subside. You may also have some bruising.

  • Days 7: Your dentist may remove your stitches, but mostly, these will dissolve on their own.

  • Days 7-10: The pain and swelling should be minimal, almost gone, and the bruising should start to fade.

  • Week 2: You should be able to slowly go back to your normal routine.

While everybody is different, you should see improvements every day. In rare cases, it may take longer than two weeks to recover. Complications such as a dry tooth socket can prolong your recovery time.

How Long Does It Take for Wisdom Teeth Stitches to Dissolve?

Your dentist will remove non-absorbable stitches within 1 to 2 weeks. Absorbable stitches usually take around a week to completely disappear.

What to Do After Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

Your dentist should provide specific instructions on what to do after removing your wisdom teeth. It’s crucial to follow these instructions to avoid complications and ensure a speedy recovery.

Here are some post-surgery steps you can take:

  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages or brush your teeth vigorously on the day of your surgery, as this can cause bleeding.

  • After the bleeding has stopped (most likely the day after the extraction), rinse with salt water for 30 seconds to help clean the wound. Do not spit the water. Tip your mouth over the sink and let it fall out.

  • Apply an ice pack to minimise swelling for the first few days. Avoid drinking through a straw, smoking, or eating hard foods as this can cause bleeding.

  • Eat soft or liquid foods like soup, mashed potatoes, and yoghurt.

  • Avoid strenuous activities during your recovery period as these can dislodge the blood clot or stitches and cause dry sockets.

  • Avoid spitting, smoking, and using straws within 48 hours after your surgery, as this can cause bleeding.

  • If possible, keep your head elevated when you sleep for the first 48 hours after the surgery. You can use an extra pillow or two. 

How Do I Keep My Mouth Clean After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

You should resume brushing your teeth the day after the surgery. Here are some helpful tips when brushing:

  • Avoid the surgery site when brushing your teeth.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid irritating the gums.

  • Be careful not to brush too hard as this can cause bleeding. You may use dental floss but avoid the surgical area.

  • Take your time and brush in small, circular strokes.

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water after eating.

  • Include brushing your tongue to keep your mouth fresh.

What Should I Do if the Wisdom Teeth Pain Continues?

After your wisdom teeth have been removed, it’s normal to experience pain and swelling, so you need to take prescribed pain medications. However, visit your dentist right away if the following problems arise:

  • You experience a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celcius) or higher

  • The pain is not controlled by over-the-counter pain medication

  • You have increased swelling

  • You can’t open your mouth without pain

  • You have a dry socket

  • Your gums are bleeding more than 24 hours after the procedure

  • You have pus coming from the incision site

Final Thoughts

Wisdom teeth extraction is a dental surgical procedure that removes wisdom teeth that cause pain, crowding or infection. Impacted teeth come in at an angle, or, sometimes, they do not erupt at all since they’re stuck between the bone and the other teeth. In cases like this, the risk of having severe pain, crowding and infection increases which is why it is recommended to have them removed through surgery.

If you need wisdom teeth extraction, contact us today at (08) 9452 8877 if you’re nearby Maddington or at (08) 9345 0455 if you’re in the Yokine area.

We are Clear Choice Dental. We provide a wide range of dental services in Maddington and Yokine. These include general and cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, dental implants, facial aesthetics, sleep dentistry and sedation, dentures, snoring and sleep apnoea management, and custom mouthguard. Our two clinic branches are open six days a week, and we are prepared to cater to patients with emergency cases such as an abscess, broken jaw, severe pain from wisdom teeth, lost fillings, tooth fractures, and complications due to recent dental procedures and more.

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