You’re scheduled to have a wisdom tooth removed. Don’t feel alone. According to the American Dental Association, an average of five million people have their third molars (wisdom teeth) extracted each year in the United States alone. Most are in their late teens or early twenties when the extractions are done. Since you are about to join their ranks, here are some things you should know about taking proper care of yourself after the extractions are completed.
Swelling, Soreness and General Pain
Your gum will be numb for a time after the extraction. When the feeling returns, expect some aching and soreness. There will also be some bleeding, but that will subside. Keep the area covered with gauze or a wet tea bag. Doing so will help the clot to form over the socket.
To ease the pain and the swelling, apply ice to the outside of the cheek. A good rule of thumb is to apply ice for 20 minutes, then wait another 20 minutes before applying it again. The ice helps to numb the area and keep the swelling at bay. By the end of the second day, any residual swelling should be gone, and the soreness will be mostly over.
Your dentist may prescribe pain medication to help you through the next few days or recommend and over the counter pain reliever. As you take it easy the first few days after your wisdom tooth procedure, follow the instructions for usage carefully. Never exceed the dosage without your dentist’s permission.
If you are on any other medications that could thin the blood, do not take them until your dentist gives his or her permission. Thinner blood could prolong your recovery. In most cases, you can start taking the other medications in a day or two.
Foods To Eat and Foods To Avoid
It’s best to avoid eating or drinking anything the first couple of hours after the procedure. While the gum is healing, there are certain foods you can enjoy without causing any damage. Soft foods are a great choice. Puddings, mashed potatoes, and pureed vegetables or fruits are ideal for the first day or two. Eggs and cooked cereals are also good choices. With beverages, stick to non-carbonated choices that are served at room temperature.
Until the dentist tells you otherwise, do not attempt to consume raw foods or anything that could irritate the empty socket. This means no popcorn, nuts, or hard candy for a short time.
Arrange your schedule so you can take it easy the first few days after your wisdom tooth procedure. Avoid lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk. You can also take a few days off from exercising. That’s because physical activity increases blood pressure and could push more blood to the empty socket. After three or four days, you should be able to resume your usual activities.
There are other suggestions the dentist will make, including how to brush, use mouthwash, and general rinsing to keep the area clean. Take those suggestions seriously and follow them to the letter. Doing so reduces the potential for complications and will help you get back to normal sooner rather than later.
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