How to take care after wisdom tooth extraction

Wisdom tooth surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed on adults between the ages of 24 and 43. The surgery is performed to remove wisdom teeth that have not properly formed, or wisdom teeth that have partially broken through your gums or completely failed to emerge at all.

Although wisdom tooth extraction involves a common surgical procedure, it does not mean that you should take the post-operative care lightly.

After having your wisdom tooth removed, you would need to be extra cautious –especially in the first month after surgery – if you want the extraction site to heal faster. Healing usually takes about two weeks and full recovery takes about a month.

In some extreme cases, special attention needs to be paid to the extraction site for about 6 months.

Below are some of the after-care points to take note of.

Get assistance during first 24 hours

You should arrange for a responsible adult to pick you up after the surgery – in fact, that person should stay with you for the first 24 hours following the procedure.

Since you will be on pain medications during this period – making you feel rather drowsy – the Canberra dentist would advice that someone be around to offer assistance in the event of any complications.  Even though it’s only a precautionary measure, you should take the advice seriously.

Elevate your head position

You are strongly advised to take a rest once arriving home from the surgery. Prior to the surgery, you may wish to make special arrangements for that. Prepare some soft pillows with which to prop yourself, making sure to elevate your head. This is to prevent any drainage from the wound pooling down your throat and causing you to choke.

Elevating your head will also help to relieve the throbbing pain that some patients experience after the operation.

Avoid doing these things immediately following surgery

Do not remove the gauze pad placed over the surgical area for at least half an hour.

Avoid rinsing your mouth or touching the wound area. You do not want to risk dislodging the blood clot, which is still rather fragile at this stage.

Do this to alleviate any pain or bleeding

Slight bleeding or redness in saliva is not uncommon. If bleeding persists, place a gauze pad over the area and bite firmly for thirty minutes.

Most of the pain is caused by the swelling of the tissue. You can apply cold compress on the outside of your jaw to alleviate the swelling and pain. It helps to place a dry cloth between your cheeks and the cold compress to minimise the wet and cold feeling on your soft skin. Remember: never use heat compress as you may loosen the blood clot and cause complications.

Do not take any over-the-counter pain relief medication unless the dentist allows or prescribes it. Some of these medications will increase the bleeding.

Beware of dry socket

Dry socket occurs in roughly 5% of all tooth extractions.

Also known as alveolar osteitis, dry socket is an infection in your tooth socket that occurs when the blood clot at the site of a tooth extraction is prematurely disrupted. The best way to avoid it is to maintaining good oral hygiene before and during the healing period.

You should also avoid smoking, sucking through a straw, coughing, sneezing or spitting forcefully during the healing period. Steer clear of carbonated or alcoholic beverages after an extraction, as they are known to increase the chances of dry socket.

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