Getting your wisdom teeth removed can be intimidating if you don’t know what to expect. Don’t go in blind! Keep reading to find out average recovery time, what to expect after the surgery, and how soon you can go back to work or school.
What is Recovery Like?
After the surgery, the anesthesia and numbing agents will slowly wear off. It usually takes a couple of hours for the numbness in your mouth to be completely gone. You’ll experience some soreness and swelling in your mouth, as well as your jaws and cheeks. However, your oral surgeon will prescribe something to help reduce pain and swelling, as well as an antibiotic to prevent infection. You can also use ice packs on your cheeks and jaws to lessen swelling and pain.
When eating, you should take care to avoid anything hard, sharp, crunchy, or chewy, as these could be difficult to eat, cause pain, or get into your wound. You should also avoid using straws, sucking or slurping motions, and smoking, as these activities could dislodge the clot where your teeth were removed and cause a painful condition called dry socket, in which the bone is exposed.
What is Dry Socket?
A dry socket is an unfortunate side effect that can happen after a wisdom tooth removal. Like we mentioned earlier, a dry socket happens when the blood clots that have formed after your tooth’s removal are dislodged, leaving the bone exposed.
With the bone exposed, that area of your mouth will be very sensitive. Many people report pain radiating up and down the side of the face upon drinking cold water or breathing in cold air.
What to Do if You Suspect a Dry Socket:
Though dry sockets are uncommon, they do happen. If it’s been three or more days since your wisdom tooth extraction, and you’re still in a great deal of pain, it’s a good idea to go see your dentist. If you’ve had multiple teeth extracted, but only one area is really in pain, it’s fairly likely that you have a dry socket.
If you suspect you have a dry socket, absolutely don’t wait to see your dentist or oral surgeon. Go in as soon as you can, because dry sockets are very difficult to get rid of on your own, and can have complicated problems if not treated properly.
Dry Socket Treatment
If you do have a dry socket, your dentist will treat it one of two ways:
- Packing the socket with dry socket paste – Dry socket paste was made for your exact situation. Your dentist will take a long strip of paste and insert it into your dry socket. While there may be a bit of pain while the socket is being packed, dry socket paste contains a numbing agent that will alleviate your pain as soon as it’s in there.
- Packing the socket with bone graft material or surgical foam – This is a more uncommon method, but there are dentists who use it. Just like with socket paste, your dentist will insert the material into your socket, but this method is more permanent.
Once your socket has been adequately packed, your pain should subside and you’ll be free to g home. If you’ve had your dry socket packed with dry socket paste, you will have to return to the oral surgeon in a few days to have the paste replaced, or taken out if your socket has healed enough.
In the case that your dry socket has become infected, your dentist or oral surgeon will prescribe a round of antibiotics as well.
To avoid dry socket, and to recover quickly, It is important during recovery to drink lots of water and stay well-hydrated. Though your mouth may be sore, you shouldn’t avoid eating altogether, as your body will need nutrients to bounce back quickly.
Some Easy-To-Eat Recovery Foods Include:
- Ice cream/sorbet
- Mashed potatoes
- Pureed fruit
- Cottage cheese
- Protein/meal replacement shakes/drinks
- Scrambled eggs
- Baby food
How Long Will it Take Me to Recover?
As a general estimate, you can expect full recovery to take one to two weeks, and should be able to return to normal activities like work or school within three to four days. Recovery time depends on numerous factors, including your body’s resilience, the number of teeth that were removed, and how the teeth were coming in or impacted. The more difficult the teeth were to remove, the longer the recovery period will be.
If you experience dry sockets, you’ll need to see your dentist to have the socket treated. After treatment, expect a couple of weeks to fully recover.
After wisdom teeth extraction, the best way to shorten your recovery period is to follow your dentist’s directions for care: take the prescribed medication, avoid foods that could cause irritation or dry sockets, and don’t overexert yourself. If you follow these guidelines, you should have a healthy recovery and be back to normal in just a week or two!
Do you need to have your wisdom teeth out? Give Creason, Weber & Mountford Family Dentistry a call today!