Going to the dentist is no one’s favorite activity, but biannual checkups are crucial for maintaining good oral health. Some patients will put off their routine teeth cleanings due to cost, dental anxiety, or sometimes simple forgetfulness—but if your wisdom teeth are causing issues in your mouth, they need to be extracted promptly.
When wisdom teeth emerge, the angle at which they erupt from the gums can impact your other molars and can lead to chronic pain, infections, tooth crowding, and other issues. In these cases, the only treatment is to have them removed. Wisdom teeth removal surgery is a safe, effective procedure that millions of people undergo every year, but there are some side effects that you can expect as well. One of the most obvious is swelling of the face and gums around the removal area, but there are steps you can take before and after your procedure to help reduce swelling after wisdom teeth removal.
How Long Does Swelling Last After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
During your operation, your dental surgeon will place you under anesthesia—either local or general, depending on what is medically appropriate, your preference, and your level of insurance coverage—and manually remove the teeth from their sockets. The procedure is quick and painless under any level of anesthesia, but your dentist may need to make small incisions in the gums to expose the teeth. Coupled with the manual force it takes to remove the teeth themselves, this usually causes bruising in the soft tissue, which in turn leads to swelling and soreness. The good news is these symptoms don’t last very long and the swelling should subside after 24-48 hours. There might be tenderness and mild pain that last for a few days after that, but you should notice a marked decrease in pain (or its complete absence) within a week of your procedure.
How to Reduce Swelling After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Raise Your Head
Maintaining an upright posture and keeping your head elevated above your heart can aid in reducing swelling. When resting or sleeping, using additional pillows to elevate your head can help with this.
Take Pain Relievers
Use dentist-approved OTC pain medication to alleviate swelling and pain. Medications such as Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Benzocaine, or Ibuprofen can be effective at removing or at least relieving swelling and pain.
Use a Warm Compress
To decrease swelling, apply a warm compress to the affected area for 15 minutes, then wait for 15 minutes before repeating. This process of alternating heat and rest can help to alleviate tension and increase blood flow to the area, promoting healing.
Use an Ice Pack
One way to decrease swelling after a tooth extraction is by using an ice pack on the exterior of the surgical area. Placing an ice pack on your cheeks can also help to reduce inflammation and swelling. Cold temperatures have a numbing effect that can decrease pain. Some individuals will alternate between hot and cold treatments.
What You Shouldn’t Do After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
While wisdom teeth extraction isn’t a complicated or dangerous procedure, it is still technically considered surgery and requires sufficient aftercare. To optimize recovery after the extraction of your wisdom teeth, here is a list of guidelines for things to avoid.
Don’t Rinse the Area for 24 Hours
Avoid forcefully rinsing your mouth for at least 24 hours, as this can cause the blood clot that forms in the empty socket to become dislodged leading to complications.
Do Not Use Your Tongue to Probe the Extraction Site
Avoid poking or prodding the extraction site with your tongue, finger, tissue, or toothpick as it can slow down the healing process, cause bleeding, and lead to an uncomfortable condition called dry socket.
After wisdom teeth extraction, the mouth becomes more susceptible to infection. Saliva works to constantly flush out the bacteria that cause infection, and because smoking dries out the tissue in the mouth, it’s recommended you abstain from smoking for several days following the procedure.
Oral surgery can be a source of anxiety for many people. If you have recently scheduled a procedure such as dental implants or wisdom tooth extraction, it’s natural to have questions regarding recovery. Before your operation, your dentist will inform you of what to expect and the kind of care you should be expected to perform both before and after. If you have any further questions, never hesitate to contact Great Basin Oral and Facial Surgery and we’ll be happy to address any concerns.
Wisdom teeth extraction services can help maintain the health of your smile and alleviate any discomfort you may experience from impacted wisdom teeth. To ensure the best recovery after the extraction, it’s important to follow all post-surgery instructions to minimize the risk of irritation or infection. Get in touch with us to find out more about our team’s approach to quality dental care, and how we can assist you with your dental needs.