Wisdom teeth have a bit of a reputation as the source of a lot of pain and discomfort. Maybe you've heard stories from coworkers or family members about days spent nursing a sore mouth. With the way we commonly talk about it, it's little wonder many of us are afraid to get our wisdom teeth removed.
That said, some time off work to recover from your surgery is easily preferable to the oral health complications that could occur if a problematic wisdom tooth isn't removed. To help you prepare yourself to tackle this necessary evil, let's talk about home remedies for improving surgery recovery times.
1. Keep the gauze in place
Immediately after your surgery, gauze will be applied over the extraction site. You'll need to maintain some pressure over this gauze to reduce bleeding as much as possible. The site will bleed naturally, so you should expect the gauze to get a bit messy.
Remember to keep the gauze in place, and don't remove it until a blood clot forms and bleeding subsides. This usually takes up to 45 minutes. You might find bleeding starts again later – simply use some clean gauze in the same way.
2. Stick to easy-to-eat foods
Your molars are the teeth responsible for grinding and chewing your food. After your surgery, you'll likely find that chewing is painful.
In the days following your surgery, you should only eat liquid or soft foods, like yogurt and smoothies, and avoid using your molars. Not only will chewing hurt, hard foods may agitate the extraction site, encouraging bleeding and hindering recovery. Drinking hot beverages or anything through a straw may also dislodge the blood clot – so be careful, as this can lead to dry socket.
You should gradually reintroduce solid foods as you recover.
3. Exercise your jaw gently
While it's important to not agitate the extraction site, it can be beneficial to move your jaw gently and regularly. Simply opening and closing your mouth can help to reduce stiffness and exercise the masseter muscle (just before the opening of your ear). Because the oral surgeon had your mouth open for an extended period, this muscle group may be sore or cramped – so gentle movement or massage can help the pain subside.
If you can't move your jaw, don't panic – it's quite normal to experience stiffness or swelling following an extraction procedure. Holding ice packs against the swollen area intermittently (10 minutes on, 20 minutes off) can help this go down.
If you're concerned about any potential complications during recovery time, don't hesitate to talk to your dentist.
4. Get plenty of rest
Some people may be eager to get straight back into working after surgery, but it's important to allow yourself the necessary recovery time. Arrange time off work or school before your procedure and use this period to relax and let your body heal.
It's a good idea, especially in the first few days, to keep your head upright as much as possible so as to not affect blood vessel tone and blood volume near the extraction site. Even lying flat may be detrimental to recovery. Simply sleep with an extra pillow or two to keep your head at a 45 degree angle.
If you're concerned about any potential complications during recovery time, don't hesitate to talk to your dentist – we'll be happy to recommend the best course of action. To book a wisdom tooth removal, or just an oral health check-up, schedule an appointment online or call City Dentists on 04 978 4964.