Wisdom Tooth Removal 101: What to Expect After Your Procedure

Jan 08, 2024
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No one wants to have their teeth pulled, so the least you can do is prepare yourself for what happens afterward. This blog is packed with expert tips to help you know what to expect after wisdom teeth removal.

It’s been a long journey since you cut your first tooth — and the final push isn’t always so pleasant. Your wisdom teeth (or third molar) finally emerge around age 17-21. Normally, we like your teeth to stay in your mouth, but wisdom teeth tend to wreak havoc once they appear. 

That’s why nearly 5 million folks have their wisdom teeth removed every year. 

Although it’s one of the most common oral surgeries, recovery time can vary from person to person, especially considering factors like age and the number of teeth extracted. An impacted wisdom tooth (one that hasn't erupted through the gumline yet) is a bit harder to remove and may impact your recovery. 

But don’t panic. Our team at Mamkin Dentistry Aesthetic & Restorative Center in Ridgewood, New York, has a detailed timeline of what you can expect from almost any wisdom tooth extraction. 

The first day

The great news about wisdom teeth extraction is that it’s an outpatient procedure that only takes an hour. That means you can be back in your bed or on your favorite couch resting shortly after your appointment. 

You receive either a local or general anesthetic during the extraction, which gradually wears off. Some symptoms you can expect after your surgery include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Blood in your mouth
  • Lockjaw
  • A strange taste in your mouth
  • Numbness, tingling, or a lack of sensation in your mouth, cheeks, or face

You’ll need someone to drive you home after your procedure since you’ll likely still be experiencing the effects of the anesthesia. We also recommend you take a day or two off of work or school to rest.

Remember that severe, lasting pain is abnormal during recovery, so report any worsening pain immediately. 

The first week

After a few days, pain and swelling should decrease steadily, and once they’re manageable, you can head back to work or school. By the end of your first week, you should feel back to normal, but if your molars were impacted, if there were complications during your surgery,  or if you’re an older patient, you may need up to two weeks to get back to normal. 

A note on self-care

We send each of our patients home with detailed and customized self-care instructions, but there are a few things everyone should be aware of. 

First and foremost is dry sockets. Dry sockets can occur around day three to five of your recovery. They happen when the blood clot that forms in the extraction site becomes dislodged before you’ve fully healed.

The result can be incredibly painful because, without the blood blot, your nerves are left vulnerable. You’re also much more susceptible to infections.

So, to avoid dry sockets, follow these rules of thumb. During the first day, avoid:

  • Chewing hard foods
  • Using a straw
  • Alcohol, caffeine, and hot drinks
  • Smoking, vaping, and other tobacco products
  • Rinsing your mouth
  • Spitting

After you’ve gotten through the first day, you can slowly get back into your normal routine, but you should still avoid the following to protect your blood clot:

  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Smoking
  • Swishing, rinsing, or spitting
  • Drinking from a straw
  • Chewing hard or sticky foods

The best foods and drinks to eat during recovery are soft and easy to chew — think cottage cheese, applesauce, pudding, soups, mashed potatoes, and smoothies.

We may prescribe pain medication to help ease your symptoms, but you can also address pain with cold compresses and over-the-counter medicine. 

Wisdom teeth extraction surgery looks different for everyone, so we want to prepare you with as much information as possible. If you still have questions about your upcoming procedure, call our friendly staff at 718-736-2785 or use our online booking tool to request a consultation today.