Having your wisdom teeth removed is a pretty common procedure, but it can still end up being a serious surgery if your teeth are impacted — and a painful recovery even if your wisdom teeth weren’t impacted.
Your post-removal care is very important, because if you don’t take care of your wounds you could end up with a lot of needless extra pain, swelling and infection.
Here are 8 things that will save you while you rest up and recuperate:
- Extra gauze and tissue: Your dentist and/or oral surgeon will keep gauze in your mouth for about 30 minutes after the teeth are removed, but your mouth will likely keep bleeding a little even after you get home. Don’t panic: this is expected. Just make sure you have some extra gauze and tissues handy to bite down on to help with the bleeding.
- Ice packs: If you’ve never seen anyone immediately after a wisdom teeth removal, you might be surprised to see how swollen your face can be. Ice packs can help with the excessive swelling — and it helps to ease (or at least numb) the pain.
- Soft foods: Having your wisdom teeth removed isn’t all bad: you’ve got an excuse to eat lots of ice cream! Soft foods will be your best friends in the days after your wisdom teeth are pulled. Be sure to have a supply of soups, broths, yogurt, applesauce and other things you don’t have to chew. Stay away from carbonated beverages, as well as popcorn, peanuts and pasta.
- Comfortable pillows and blankets: One thing you’ll certainly need following your procedure is rest. And lots of it. Rest will help you to heal faster. Plus, you won’t have too many places to go with your face swollen like a chipmunk. It’s a good time to catch up on Netflix or a good book.
- Medication: Your dentist will likely prescribe an antibiotic to fight infection, as well as pain meds to manage the discomfort. Be sure to take these as directed. If you’re still feeling too foggy, ask a friend or family member to help you keep track of your medication intake.
- Water and extra fluids: You’ll want to hydrate a lot after your procedure. Drinking plenty of water and fluids will help with the healing process. But one thing you don’t want lying around post-wisdom teeth removal is a straw. Do not use a straw while you are recovering. The suction can cause problems and tear the stitches in your mouth.
- Warm salt water or mouth rinse: About 12 hours after your procedure, you can start rinsing with a diluted mouthwash or warm salt water to alleviate pain and help promote healing. But don’t forget: No straws!
- A friend or family member: Even if you’re the strong, independent type, you’ll want to have someone staying with you the first day or two after having your wisdom teeth removed. Not only will you need them to drive you home from the doctor’s office, you’ll want someone around to monitor your swelling and pain, and to be there in case your recovery goes awry. If your fever spikes or your stitches pop, you don’t want to be alone.