The healing process following wisdom teeth extraction usually occurs over several weeks, but discomfort and necessary care typically last just a few days to a week. Here is a general timeline of what you can expect:
Day of surgery
After the extraction, a blood clot will form in the socket to aid in healing. You will typically bite down on a piece of gauze to help the clot form. It’s crucial to protect this clot to avoid a painful condition known as dry socket.
Your dentist or oral surgeon will likely provide specific instructions, but generally, you should avoid:
- Rinsing or spitting forcefully
- Drinking through a straw for 24 hours
- Smoking or using tobacco
- Vigorous exercise
First 24 hours
During this time, you may experience swelling and discomfort. Applying a cold pack to your cheek for 15 minutes at a time can help reduce swelling. Over-the-counter or prescription medication can help manage pain.
First few days
It’s normal to experience continued swelling and mild discomfort. Some people may also have bruising or stiffness in their jaw.
During this time, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene, but avoid brushing directly over the extraction site for the first few days. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water after meals to help keep food particles out of the extraction site.
Your dentist or oral surgeon may want to see you for a follow-up appointment to check on your healing and remove any stitches if they didn’t dissolve on their own.
Most of the discomfort should be gone by this point. If not, contact your oral health provider as this could be a sign of infection, dry socket, or other complications.
By this time, you should be mostly healed. Any minor bruising or swelling should be gone. You can return to your normal dental routine, including flossing around the area where the tooth was removed.
It’s important to note that everyone heals at different rates, and your personal experience might differ slightly from this timeline. If you have any concerns about your healing process, always reach out to your oral health provider.