How you take care of yourself at home contributes to the healing process just as much as the wisdom teeth surgery procedure. Proper post-operative home care after wisdom teeth surgery speeds up healing and prevents surgical complications such as dry socket. Dry socket happens when the blood clot dislodges from the wisdom tooth’s former spot and exposes the bone and nerves, resulting in acute pain, swollen lymph nodes, and bad breath. What are the best ways to care for yourself at home after wisdom teeth surgery? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
CARE AFTER WISDOM TEETH SURGERY TIPS
No Smoking, Please! If you smoke or chew tobacco, now is the time to quit, or at least postpone it for 48 hours after surgery (longer if you chew tobacco, at least one week). The chemicals in tobacco delay your body’s natural healing process, and the sucking action of a cigarette could dislodge the blood clot.
Take It Easy. Plan to rest in bed the first 24 hours after surgery. Some bleeding at this time is normal, so try not to move around too much. You could get light-headed if you suddenly stand up. Bending, lifting, and strenuous movements will increase bleeding and discomfort. Exercising is definitely ruled out for three or four days.
No Pain, No Gain. Your teeth and mouth have some of your body’s highest concentration of nerves, so pain is, unfortunately, an inevitable outcome of oral surgery. The good news is that dental pain control has come a long way. It’s a good idea to take your prescribed pain medication before the anesthesia wears off. Taking it with a little bit of food helps ward off nausea. Expect the pain to taper off as the surgical site begins to heal.
Swelling will occur in your mouth and begin to crest two to three days after surgery. To control swelling, apply ice to the side of your cheek for ten minutes on, then ten minutes off, for the first day. It might be helpful to slide the ice bag into a pantyhose and tie it around your head to hold it in place. You can also use two ice bags at the same time this way for both sides of your cheeks.
MOUTH CARE AND MEDICATION
Our dentists will likely send you home with gauze pads over the surgical site. To control bleeding, bite down on the gauze pads or use your fingers to gently press the area the first hour after surgery. If bleeding continues after an hour, change the gauze pads and continue applying pressure every 30 minutes. You can also use a wet tea bag instead of the gauze pads, as the tannic acid in the tea constricts the blood vessels and promotes blood clot formation. If your dentist has prescribed any pain medication or antibiotics, be sure to take them as directed. Keeping your mouth clean is also important. Gently brush around the surgical site for the first night, and rinse with salt water each time after you eat.
DIET AFTER SURGERY
It’s best not to eat, drink or talk the first two hours after wisdom teeth surgery. After that, drink plenty of water and clear fluids as soon as the moderate bleeding stops. You can eat soft foods such as puddings, mashed potatoes, cooked cereals, and yogurt. Vegetables, fruits, and other foods can also be eaten if you liquefy them in a blender. Avoid consuming sharp, spicy, carbonated, and piping hot foods. Don’t use a straw or spit a lot either, as both actions can risk dislodging the blood clot.
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DENTIST
Most patients recover quickly with proper home care after wisdom teeth surgery. But if you have uncontrolled bleeding or nausea, increased pain, a dislodged blood clot, or a persistent fever, contact us right away. Don’t be afraid to call us, too, if you have any questions. At Biltmore Commons, we’re here for you through every step of your wisdom teeth surgery.