If you’re planning wisdom teeth removal during the upcoming winter/holiday break from school, there are a few things you should know to ensure that your recovery doesn’t take longer than necessary. After all, you’ll want to be in good shape before all those holiday goodies are gone. In the interest of a speedy recovery, here are 5 common wisdom teeth removal problems and the best ways to avoid letting them ruin your entire school break:
While it is normal to have some light oozing of blood from extraction sites for 24 to 48 hours after wisdom teeth are removed, copious bleeding or clots of blood in your mouth are reasons for concern – and to call your oral surgeon. This complication can be avoided in most cases by spending the first 24 hours after your procedure resting and taking it very easy for the next few days. Activities that increase your heart rate and blood pressure during this time increase risk of bleeding.
Some swelling is to be expected after wisdom teeth removal, but you can keep it to a minimum with a little extra care. During the first few days after your procedure, keep your head elevated a bit when you’re lying down by using at least two pillows. Applying ice packs to your face during the first 24 to 48 hours can be a big help too.
Dry socket is the most common complication of wisdom teeth removal, and can be quite painful. It happens when the blood clot that typically forms in the socket from which a tooth has been extracted does not form as well as it should or comes loose prematurely. You can minimize your risk of this painful problem by not using straws or those water bottles with pop-up tops during your recovery since any sort of sucking action can loosen those clots. Additionally, rinsing of the mouth should be done very gently, rolling your head around to rinse teeth rather than swishing. Be careful to avoid the extraction sites as you’re brushing your teeth and use a very soft-bristled toothbrush.
Infection is a problem that will definitely make your recovery from wisdom teeth removal longer and more uncomfortable than it should be. Avoiding infection at your surgical sites means following your surgeon’s after-care instructions carefully, especially the part about rinsing your mouth gently after you eat – every single time – to remove any bits of food debris. Applying ice packs to your face during the first 24 to 48 hours can be a big help too. Dr. Falender may recommend the use of an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen.
Some pain is a given for a few days after your procedure, but you’ll want to avoid making things worse on yourself than necessary. While you’ll certainly be eager to get back to your normal diet and activities, pushing yourself too hard can mean a longer, more painful recovery. Stick with soft foods while your jaw is still sore, and avoid sticky or grainy foods that can irritate surgical sites. Take it easy for at least a week, avoiding heavy lifting, running, sports or long days on your feet at the mall, since being over-tired or raising your blood pressure with too much activity can increase pain levels. The fact is, wisdom teeth removal is a quick, routine procedure in most cases, and complications aren’t very likely for most young, healthy patients who take good care of themselves after surgery. So settle in for a few days with some new movies, a few good books and lots of drinks and soft foods, and you’ll be back to your life before you know it.