How to Recover Faster After a Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Making the choice to have your wisdom teeth (or your child’s wisdom teeth) removed is a proactive step toward preventing serious oral health problems, like severe gum infection, tooth decay, and gum disease. Before reaping the long term benefits of wisdom teeth extraction, you need to follow your dentist’s post-operative instructions to the letter to ensure that the extraction sites heal properly. In addition, you can follow our handy guide to help hasten the healing process after a surgical extraction.

In the Hours Following the Extraction

Patients undergoing a surgical tooth extraction can expect to be fully sedated during the procedure. You will continue to feel the effects of sedation for several hours after you leave the office, so a parent or other trusted family member will escort you home. Once home, you will need to rest so your body can begin to recover from surgery. A general timeline you can follow includes:

  • Take a dose of prescribed pain medication and settle down in a recliner or in a reclined position on the couch.
  • Take this time to enjoy a favorite movie, catch up on your Netflix cue, or flip through a new magazine.
  • Many patients doze off for a few hours. Don’t fight the urge to nap. Sleep is incredibly restorative and will help the healing process.
  • After you wake up from your nap, enjoy a light meal. Try cool, mildly flavored foods like ice cream, yogurt, or a smoothie. Be sure to avoid very hot foods or foods with heavy spices or salt.

One Day After the Extraction

You should have arranged with your supervisor to stay home from work for at least one day following a surgical wisdom tooth extraction (in fact, many dentists recommend performing the procedure on a Thursday or Friday so you have a long weekend during which to recover). Take your antibiotics and pain medication as directed. At this point you should still be eating soft, mild foods. After eating, rinse your mouth with warm salt water but do not brush your teeth since toothpaste can sting and irritate the site. Avoid strenuous exercise but walking is recommended since light exercise stimulates the body’s healing response.

The First Week and Beyond

Over the next few days, you can begin reintroducing more substantial foods but you should continue to avoid very spicy or acidic foods that can irritate the site. In rare cases, you may experience swelling (your cheek may have a “puffed up” look) or pain that have not decreased in intensity. If this happens, call you dentist’s office immediately. They may alter your antibiotic therapy or your pain medication or even have you come in so the dentist can check the surgical site.

About Shawn Hofkes, DDS

With advanced training in oral and maxillofacial surgery, Shawn Hofkes, DDS is qualified to provide comfortable, safe wisdom teeth extractions from our state-of-the-art dentist office in Cerritos, CA. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.