Keeping Your Mouth Healthy After Wisdom Teeth Extraction

It may seem like a good idea to hang onto something with “wisdom” in its name, but sometimes your wisdom teeth can cause serious problems for your oral health. These teeth, known as your third set of molars, usually start becoming an issue between 17 and 21 years of age. In many cases, they don’t grow incorrectly because there just isn’t enough room for them. Other times, they cause cavities, gum disease, and even tooth pain.

In the United States, approximately 95% of tooth extractions among patients ages 16-21 involve removing wisdom teeth, according to an April 2014 clinical study published in the American Journal of Public Health. At All Bright Dental, our experienced dentist, Gennadiy Kravets, DMD, specializes in wisdom tooth extraction. 

While the procedure itself may be common, Dr. Kravets provides detailed instructions on caring for your mouth and the extraction site after having your wisdom teeth removed. This helps prevent any unnecessary complications. 

What to expect after your procedure

When you have one or more teeth removed from your mouth, you’re likely to experience some side effects. The severity of your side effects often depends on the complexity of your tooth extraction. For instance, Dr. Kravets can remove some wisdom teeth by simply plucking the tooth from its socket, while others require piece-by-piece dismantling for removal.

In most cases, you can experience bleeding up to a day after your wisdom tooth extraction. Dr. Kravets recommends using gauze to help manage the bleeding and ensure you avoid excessive spitting, which can dislodge the blood clot forming over the now-empty tooth socket. 

This blood clot plays an essential role in the healing process, and it protects the bone and nerves underneath. If your blood clot dislodges or dissolves, you can experience severe pain and delayed healing. Losing this blood clot can also increase your risk of developing an infection in your jawbone.

The most common side effects of tooth extraction include bruising, swelling, and pain. You can often manage these symptoms with ice packs and over-the-counter pain medication. The good news? These side effects usually disappear within a few days.

What to eat and drink after tooth extractions

When it comes to having your wisdom teeth removed, you may be most worried about what you can eat and drink afterward. For the first 24 hours, the most important thing is to drink plenty of nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages.  

Water is the best choice, but you can also drink milk, juice, protein shakes, and smoothies. However — and this is important — don’t drink any beverages through a straw. The suction action you create with a straw can dislodge the blood clot over your empty socket. 

Dr. Kravets also recommends eating soft foods for up to 48 hours or longer, depending on your healing process. Good options include blended soups or broth, blended yogurt, pudding, mashed potatoes, plain ice cream, and applesauce or other pureed fruits. 

As your mouth heals, you can start adding semi-soft foods to your diet, like bananas, eggs, soft-cooked vegetables, stewed meat, pasta, and rice. Most people are back to their usual diet within a week after surgery.

Take it easy

Wisdom tooth extraction often requires anesthesia, so you need to arrange for a ride home after your procedure. You should also expect to spend the remainder of the day resting following your procedure. 

While you may be able to resume many of your usual activities by the next day, including going back to school or work, we recommend avoiding strenuous activities for up to a week after your wisdom tooth extraction. 

Keeping your mouth clean while you heal

During the first 24 hours after your tooth extraction, refrain from brushing your teeth. You can keep your mouth clean by using mouthwash. When you resume toothbrushing, Dr. Kravets recommends being gentle around extraction sites. This not only prevents any unnecessary discomfort and pain, but it also protects the all-important blood clot. 

You should also avoid smoking cigarettes for 72 hours or longer to prevent any unnecessary complications. Smoking can also dislodge the blood clot and slow your healing. 

Remember, while you may need to make a few short-term modifications to your diet and routine after having your wisdom teeth removed, the extraction procedure offers long-term benefits to your oral health. 

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Kravets at All Bright Dental, call the office nearest you or click the link to request an appointment online.