Post-Op Care After Removing Wisdom Teeth


Did you know that 85% of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed at some point in their lifetime? Wisdom teeth removal (also called wisdom teeth extraction) is the process of removing the third set of molars that come in during early adulthood, usually between the ages of 17 and 25. The reasons for removing wisdom teeth vary, but one thing remains constant: after your wisdom teeth removal, you need to follow your oral surgeon’s recommendations for a full and speedy recovery. Here are some of the best tips for optimal post-op care.


Immediately After the Surgery

After removing wisdom teeth, the oral surgeon will pack the surgical area with gauze. The gauze needs to be left in long enough to allow a clot to form, but you also need to change it regularly to avoid infection. This amounts to changing the gauze about every half hour for the first two hours.

On a side note, if you were sedated during the procedure, you need to have someone with you. The effects of general anesthesia can take up to 24 hours to wear off so it helps to have someone who can ask questions, remember the important details regarding post-op care, and provide you with a ride home.


The Next 72 Hours

For at least the next three days, you want to take it easy so you don’t inhibit the recovery process. Here are some do’s and don’ts to ramp up your recovery:

  • Keep your head elevated above your heart. This will limit bleeding while assisting with the healing process.
  • Take painkillers and anti-inflammatories as prescribed.
  • Living off a diet of only Jell-O and pudding will make your recovery slower. While it’s important to eat soft foods like pudding, yogurt, applesauce, and ice cream, also be sure to include some easy to chew foods like mashed potatoes, vegetable soups, rice, and oatmeal.
  • Drink plenty of fluids but never through a straw. The sucking motion involved with a straw may dislodge the clot.
  • Alternate ice packs and moist heat. The ice will help reduce swelling while the moist heat will help with discomfort.
  • After 24 hours, very gently rinse your mouth with salt water.
  • Brush and floss your teeth as prescribed by your oral surgeon, but take care to avoid the extraction site.
  • Don’t smoke. It involves the same motion as sucking through a straw but with additional health consequences.
  • Continue changing gauze pads regularly to prevent infections.


When to Call Your Oral Surgeon

Removing wisdom teeth is a common procedure, and most patients recover very quickly. Most pain disappears in as little as two to three days. That being said, if you notice any of the following symptoms you should call your oral surgeon’s office as there may be complications that require immediate attention:

  • Excessive or prolonged bleeding
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Pus discharge
  • Severe pain or fever


Follow Your Oral Surgeon’s Orders

All of the previous tips are general guidelines that are part of the recovery process for wisdom tooth removal, but they aren’t meant to replace the advice of your doctor. If you need to have your wisdom teeth removed, contact our office today. At Greater Atlanta Oral and Facial Surgery, our skilled and trusted team of oral surgeons will ensure that you get the best treatment available.

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