If you need to have your wisdom teeth pulled, you are not alone. Wisdom teeth extraction is a fairly common procedure that millions of Americans have performed each year. Our third molars have become obsolete, and with physical changes in our bodies that have occurred over the course of thousands of years, some of us can no longer accommodate these emerging teeth.
Wisdom teeth impactions cause a number of issues that can include infection and the potential for gum disease if they are left untreated.
Extractions are oral surgeries that are performed under either general or local anesthesia. There is some discomfort that can be expected after the procedure and this can be managed with either over the counter medications or a pain reliever prescribed by your dentist.
The recovery time can last for about a week, but can vary with each person. There are a number of things that you can do to speed up the process and reduce the risk of post-op complications.
The First 24 Hours
The first 24 hours after your surgery will be the most challenging. You may have some bleeding the first day, but if it persists after that, you need to call your dentist. You will need to change out the gauze pads periodically until the bleeding stops.
You can use ice packs for 20 minute intervals to help reduce any swelling that may have occurred from the wisdom teeth removal process. The area will be numb for a time after surgery so you will need to be careful not to accidentally bite your gums or tongue.
If you are a smoker, avoid smoking for the first 24 hours. The sucking action can dislodge the blood clot that is forming and cause bleeding. Smoking can also introduce germs into the mouth which can lead to infection.
After the first 24 hours, the ice compresses can be switched out for moist heat ones and you can use salt water rinses to gently cleanse the mouth and to reduce pain and swelling. You can use the rinse several times a day.
Brushing the teeth can resume after the first day, but you must take care and be gentle and avoid the surgical area specifically so you do not restart the bleeding.
For the first several days after surgery, you will need to keep your diet pretty restricted. Eat only soft foods that require little or no chewing. Solid foods can be added back into your diet gradually as your mouth begins to heal. Do not use a straw for drinking, just like smoking, the sucking action can dislodge the blood clot at the surgery site.
When lying down or sleeping, do not lay flat, keep your head elevated. Lying flat can prolong the bleeding at the site.
Physical activity will need to be kept to a minimum. You should not do anything that can potentially disrupt or dislodge the blood clot that is forming.
After about a week, you should be back to normal activities and the healing process should be well underway. Any questions or complications should be immediately reported to your dentist.
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