Please read this important information regarding proper post-surgical care for wisdom teeth extraction. If you have been scheduled to have your wisdom teeth removed, it will be important to follow these instructions exactly.
Discomfort is normal after the extraction of teeth. If you are not allergic or intolerant to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, start taking ibuprofen (also known as Advil® or Motrin®) as instructed by your doctor at the time of the surgery. If you are asthmatic, do not take ibuprofen unless you have tolerated it in the past. If your pain is not controlled by the ibuprofen alone, take your prescribed narcotic medication in addition to the ibuprofen. Ibuprofen and your prescribed narcotic can be taken together. Be certain to take your pain medicine with food; this will lessen the chance of nausea. Remember, narcotic pain medicine will impair your judgment and reflexes, so driving, biking, operating heavy machinery, etc., is out of the question and is to be strictly avoided.
Gauze pads should be placed directly over the extraction sites and held in place with firm biting pressure; proper placement will help you avoid swallowing blood, which can cause nausea. Replace the gauze pads every 20–40 minutes. When the gauze pads have no blood on them, they are no longer necessary. The amount of bleeding will vary from person to person. Most of your bleeding will slow within 3–4 hours, but a small amount of bleeding is common for up to 24 hours. To avoid excessive bleeding and irritation:
- Do not rinse on the day of surgery
- Begin normal hygiene and gently rinsing your mouth the day after surgery
- Avoid mouthwashes (especially those with alcohol)
If you have been given an irrigating syringe, start the irrigation one week following surgery and no sooner. Fill the syringe with warm water and place the tip of the syringe into the extraction site to clean. Do this 1–2 times a day for two weeks (or longer if instructed to do so by the doctor and staff).
Swelling is normal after surgery and is a major cause of post-extraction discomfort. Swelling typically peaks by the third day and then starts to resolve; it can be reduced by the use of an ice pack. Apply the ice pack to the side of your face for 10 minutes; transfer it to the opposite side for another 10 minutes. Continue icing your face for the first 48 hours. Do not freeze the skin. Ice packs are useful for the first 48 hours only. Also, keep your head elevated on 2 pillows for 3–4 days. These measures will not eliminate swelling, but they help to reduce its severity.
To allow blood clots to form undisturbed:
- Do not eat for 2 hours after surgery.
- Start with clear liquids, such as apple juice, tea, or broth. Gradually ramp up your diet as tolerated.
- Always cool down any hot foods or liquids during the first 24 hours.
- If you were sedated for surgery, do not eat fatty, creamy, or oily foods; these foods may cause nausea.
You should eat only soft food for the first week: for example, soups, eggs, mashed potatoes, and meatloaf are fine. Do not eat hard, crunchy, or very chewy foods for about 1 week. Increase your diet as tolerated.
To help prevent dry socket, do not use a straw for the first 3 days after surgery.
Begin brushing your teeth the day after surgery. It is important to brush all of your teeth, even if the teeth and gums are sensitive. Avoid brushing the extraction sites directly. Brush the adjacent teeth gently. Bacterial plaque and food accumulation near the extraction site will delay healing.
Do not smoke for at least a week. Smoking impairs healing and may cause a dry socket.
Unless told otherwise, do not participate in vigorous physical activity for three days following your surgery. Physical activity increases your blood pressure, which will cause an increase in your swelling, pain, and bleeding. You may gradually increase your activity 5–7 days after surgery.