While some people don't experience any problems with their wisdom teeth, many don't have enough room in their mouths for the new teeth. If the teeth come in at an angle or don't fully erupt due to limited space, they can get impacted and cause pain or infection if they're not removed.
Wisdom tooth removals are a very common type of oral surgery. Your recovery will be easier and go faster if you prepare yourself before the procedure and follow all of your dentist's instructions.
Pain and Swelling
It's normal to experience some pain after you have your wisdom teeth removed. Once the anesthesia wears off, you'll likely have pain around your jaws and cheeks. Some people experience a headache as well.
Swelling of the mouth and face is also common after having wisdom teeth pulled. Inflammation reaches its peak two to three days after surgery. You can help keep the swelling under control by placing an ice pack on the outside of your cheek for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
Take pain medication as directed by your dentist and plan on resting at home for two to three days. Your pain should subside considerably by the third day after your wisdom tooth extraction and gradually improve. Most people are completely pain-free in two weeks or less.
Eating and Drinking
It takes about 24 hours for a blood clot to form in the socket your wisdom tooth was removed from, and it's extremely important not to interfere with this process to avoid infection and a painful condition called dry socket. This means you need to be mindful of what you eat and drink after surgery.
Get soft foods that don't require chewing to have on hand for the first few days after you have your wisdom teeth pulled. Good choices include soup, eggs, smoothies, apple sauce, and mashed potatoes. Avoid alcohol to keep bleeding under control.
Avoid anything extremely hot that could irritate your wounds. Don't drink from a straw, slurp from a spoon, smoke, or spit while you're recovering to prevent dislodging the protective blood clot.
Dentists advise most wisdom tooth extraction patients to wait until the night of surgery to brush their teeth. Brush very gently, and don't get too close to the socket. Don't swish water or mouthwash vigorously — doing so can pull the fresh clot from the socket in your jaw.
Gently rinse your mouth with warm saltwater several times a day starting the day after surgery. It's particularly important to rinse after you eat to get food particles and bacteria away from the healing wisdom teeth sockets.
Most patients don't experience any complications after having their wisdom teeth pulled, but it's important to contact your dentist promptly if you experience any symptoms that may point to a serious complication.
These symptoms include high fever, severe pain that doesn't get better after taking pain medication, a significant increase in swelling, trouble swallowing or breathing, and bleeding that doesn't stop if you apply pressure.