Wisdom Teeth Recovery Timeline: A Dentist’s Guide to Post-Extraction Expectations and 4 Home Remedies

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Helping patients who want to know what to expect following the procedure and how to make the recovery process as smooth as possible.

As a dentist, I often get asked about the recovery timeline for wisdom teeth extraction. Patients want to know what to expect following the procedure and how to make the recovery process as smooth as possible.

Wisdom tooth pain

Recovery time can vary depending on the individual, but there are some general guidelines that can help patients prepare for the healing process. Often knowing when things are normal or not, aids recovery.

That’s why I’ve written this short guide: Wisdom Teeth Recovery Timeline. If you’re experiencing discomfort from your wisdom teeth I also have also written some advice on managing wisdom tooth pain.

Following wisdom teeth extraction, patients can expect discomfort, swelling, difficulty opening wide and tingling from nerves in the jaw (1).

Applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce swelling, and over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage any discomfort. Patients should also stick to soft foods and avoid using straws, as these can dislodge blood clots and delay healing. It is important to rest and avoid physical activity for the first few days after the procedure.

There are also some home remedies that can help promote healing and reduce discomfort following wisdom teeth extraction. Rinsing the mouth with warm salt water can help keep the area clean and reduce the risk of infection. Using a warm compress in the week following extraction on your cheek on the effected side can also help reduce swelling and promote healing.

Patients should follow their dentist’s instructions closely and contact their dental professional if they experience any unusual symptoms or complications.

What to Expect After Wisdom Teeth Extraction: Wisdom teeth recovery timeline

Immediate Recovery Period: Extraction Under Local Anaesthetic

If you’re having just one wisdom tooth extracted, or possibly both uppers removed, chances are you will have the procedure done under local anaesthetic. The simpler the procedure the more likely it is to be done under local anaesthetic. More difficult extractions, and multiple extractions involving impacted lower wisdom teeth are more likely to be done under general anaesthetic; where you are asleep during the surgery.

Immediately after your wisdom teeth extraction you will still be numb from the local anaesthetic. The dentist will give you some gauze to bite on in the area, and keeping pressure on the extraction site will help stem the bleeding. You may experience still experience some bleeding, and oozing from the site for up to 2 hours after. This is normal and can be managed with gauze and ice packs (Bite down gently on the gauze to help stop the bleeding. Apply ice packs to your cheeks to help reduce swelling.)

You should rest and avoid any strenuous activities for the first 24 hours after your extraction. Avoid smoking, drinking through a straw, and spitting, as these can dislodge the blood clot that forms in the socket and delay healing.

It’s a good idea to take some painkillers before the anaesthetic wears off, and these will kick in once the numbness subsides. Stay within the recommended dosage.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are experiencing any swelling which is affecting your airway or breathing you must contact a medical professional urgently.

First Week After Extraction

Over the first week the socket will slowly start to heal and close. Brush gently around the area as best you can. You can begin to eat soft foods, but avoid anything that requires chewing near the extraction site. You should continue to rest and avoid strenuous activities.

You may still have difficulty opening your mouth wide as the muscles in your jaw may have been strained during the procedure. A warm wheat or rice bag can help to relax the muscles and speed up recovery.

One of the reasons people get pain after extraction in this time, is the difficulty keeping the area clean, as it is right at the back of your mouth. Rinse your mouth gently with salt in warm water to help keep the area clean.

Sometimes with lower wisdom teeth, the socket can sit right over the Inferior Dental Nerve which may have been affected during the extraction procedure. The nerve can be very sensitive until the socket heals over. Your dentist will always check the proximity of the wisdom tooth to the nerve on a radiograph beforehand and will give you advice regarding this.

If you experience pain in the first week you can continue to take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and paracetamol to help. Follow the instructions on the packaging and do not exceed the recommended dosage.

1 Week After Extraction

By the second week, the swelling and pain should begin to subside. You can begin to introduce more solid foods into your diet. You should still avoid anything that breaks up. into little sharp pieces like crisps, which can get into the sockets and delay healing. Using mouthwash following eating can also help.

If you experience any complications like fever, severe pain, or excessive bleeding, contact your dentist immediately. This could be a sign of complications such as infection or dry socket.

2-3 Weeks After extraction

By the third week, most patients are fully recovered and can resume normal activities, including contact sports. However, it is important to continue to practice good oral hygiene and attend follow-up appointments with your dentist to ensure proper healing.

Home Remedies for Wisdom Teeth Recovery

Home remedies like warm saltwater rinses and over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage symptoms during the recovery period. However, it is important to follow your dentist’s instructions and attend follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and prevent complications.

Ice Packs

Ice packs can help reduce swelling and pain after wisdom teeth extraction. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery. Be sure to wrap the ice pack in a cloth or towel to avoid direct contact with the skin.

Saltwater Rinse

A saltwater rinse can help keep the surgical sites clean and prevent infection. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and swish it around your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit it out. Repeat this process three to four times a day, especially after meals.

Soft Foods

Eating soft foods can help prevent irritation of the surgical sites and promote healing. Stick to foods like soup, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and smoothies for the first few days after surgery. Avoid hard, crunchy, or spicy foods that can irritate the surgical sites.

Pain Relief Medication

Over-the-counter pain relief medication like ibuprofen or paracetamol can help relieve pain and discomfort after wisdom teeth extraction.

Follow the dosage instructions on the label and do not exceed the recommended dose. If you experience severe pain or swelling, contact your dentist or oral surgeon.

In conclusion

The more complex the surgery, the longer the healing will take, but for most people you will feel things are back to normal by around the 2 week mark. Often knowing when things are normal, helps the recovery process.

It’s important to contact your dentist if you feel the healing isn’t going as outlined above or if painkillers aren’t helping. Remember, If you are experiencing any swelling which is affecting your airway or breathing you must contact a medical professional urgently.

If you’re having issues with your wisdom teeth and are considering having them extracted, find an oral surgeon with specialist expertise to help you.

Picture of Dr Jarri Amini

Dr Jarri Amini

BDS (Honours) London 2012. Jarri has worked as a General Dentist in West Yorkshire for over 10 years. He firmly believes that educating patients about their oral health is one of the most impactful aspects of his job. He has worked on the NHS and in Private Practice.

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