How Long Does Recovery Take After Wisdom Tooth Extractions?

November 21, 2022

Filed under: Other Topics — Dr. Steve Koo @ 11:00 am
Illustration of lower dental arch with wisdom teeth highlighted in orange

While the wisdom tooth extraction procedure takes place in just one appointment that is approximately two hours long, the recovery can last for 2 – 3 weeks after. If complications arise, it may take even longer to properly heal from the surgery. Keep reading below to learn more about how long you can expect the recovery from wisdom tooth extraction in Houston to take.

What to Expect on Day 1

Immediately after your wisdom tooth surgery, you will likely experience significant discomfort, swelling, bruising, and bleeding. You should plan to rest for at least the first 24 hours. Use ice packs at 20-minute intervals to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Take all pain medications and antibiotics as directed. Until the blood clot forms over your extraction site, you should place moist, clean gauze to protect the socket and absorb blood. In most cases, bleeding will cease completely after the first 24 hours and you can stop using gauze.

Beginning right after your surgery, you will have to make some adjustments to what you eat. Until any anesthesia wears off, you should avoid anything hot because your mouth may not be able to detect if a food has the potential to burn you. Additionally, you should avoid crunchy, hard, and chewy foods. It is best to stick to a no-chew diet at first, which can include things like brothy soups, smoothies (without seeds or other hard add-ins), and even ice cream. When you feel up to it, you can try foods that are easy to chew, such as scrambled eggs, meatloaf, and pasta.

What to Expect in the First 3 Days

In the first 2 – 3 days after your procedure, you will experience swelling and bruising. This is normal, and most people are able to address the discomfort and swelling by applying ice packs or cold compresses to the face for 20 minutes at a time and taking prescription or over-the-counter pain medications as directed. Avoid applying heat to the area of the extraction site as this can lead to increased blood flow and further discomfort.

What to Expect in the First Week

Within the first 7 days after treatment, you should return to the surgeon’s office to have your stitches removed if necessary. (If you received dissolvable stitches, you may not need to make the trip back to see your surgical team. However, you should still feel free to follow up with them if you have questions about your recovery.)

At this point, you should feel much better and see a marked improvement in swelling and bruising. You should be able to resume your regular routine with some restrictions when it comes to driving, heavy lifting, and otherwise exerting yourself.

Also within the first week, you will likely be able to resume eating a fairly normal diet. Listen to your body’s cues and continue to avoid any foods that cause you discomfort or pain.

What to Expect After 7 – 10 Days

Within the first 10 days, jaw stiffness and limitation in range of movement should be completely gone. If you are still struggling to speak, chew, yawn, or smile without pain, it’s time to contact your oral surgeon’s office.

In order to facilitate your recovery, we encourage you to start exercising the jaw joints after the first 48 hours. Gently open your mouth as far as possible and move the jaw from side to side. If you feel, see, or hear anything out of the ordinary when moving your mouth, stop exercising the jaw immediately. If you notice new bleeding or swelling after your attempt at jaw exercise, call your oral surgeon.

In addition to exercising the jaw by performing a range of movements, you can also massage the jaw joints to relieve pain and allow for more comfortable motion. Gently massaging the jaw joints for a few minutes at a time can greatly improve comfort and range of jaw movement.

What to Expect After 2 – 3 Weeks

After two or three weeks, your extraction site should be healed over, any bruising and swelling should have subsided, and you should have a full range of jaw movement. If you are still experiencing pain or discomfort after the first three weeks, please call your oral surgeon in Houston.

Dry Socket Can Delay Healing

Every person heals at different rates, so do not feel downhearted if your recovery is taking a bit longer than you hoped for. The only real reason to be concerned is if you notice signs of a post-surgical complication. The most common complication after wisdom tooth removal is a condition known as dry socket, which occurs in about 1 – 3% of all extraction cases.

Dry socket occurs when the blood clot at an extraction site fails to form or gets prematurely dislodged. You can minimize your risk by avoiding crunchy foods, not using a drinking straw, and avoiding smoking during your recovery.

If you begin to notice unusual pain at your extraction site, or you open your mouth and see that there is no blood clot, contact your oral surgeon for help right away. They can use special dressings and other treatments to get your recovery back on track.

Although dry socket can delay your recovery from wisdom tooth surgery, it will not derail your healing process completely. Most patients find that their dry socket resolves within 7 – 10 days.

Does Age Affect Wisdom Tooth Recovery Time?

Most people who undergo wisdom tooth removal are fairly young; they tend to bounce back relatively quickly from oral surgery. However, some patients are in their 30s, 40s, or older. If you are more on the mature side, you should be prepared for a slightly extended recovery time.

Due to your years of life, your wisdom teeth have had more time to develop and become firmly embedded in your jawbone, so removing them may require a more invasive surgery than what is commonly used for younger people. Older patients may take 4 – 6 weeks to recover fully from such an extensive procedure.

Wisdom tooth recovery is a steady and gradual process. But with a bit of patience and by diligently following post-operative instructions, you can get through this period as easily as possible.

Meet the Practice

Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery offers excellence across a complete list of Houston oral surgery procedures, including wisdom teeth extraction. To learn more about our services or to discuss wisdom tooth removal with an oral surgeon, you are invited to contact us at 713-783-5560.

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