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Why your cheeks (sometimes) swell after wisdom teeth extraction

You’ve probably seen pictures of your friend or a family member with cheeks looking comically large in the days after their wisdom teeth removal. But have you ever wondered why? Facial swelling is a normal part of getting your wisdom teeth removed. But there are steps you can take to bring swelling down while still allowing your mouth to heal. In no time, your face will be back to normal and your smile healthier than ever.

A part of the process

The most important thing to remember is that swelling, even seemingly excessive swelling, isn’t anything to worry about. It’s your body’s natural way of protecting your mouth and going through the healing process. The amount of swelling each person has will vary widely. In some cases, faces may not swell at all. If yours does , you can expect swelling to peak about 24 hours after surgery. In many cases, swelling will be worse in the morning and dissipate slightly as the day continues.

While facial swelling is not a problem, there are steps you can take to reduce it. Your dentist will probably recommend applying ice to your face, alternating between time on and off. After a few days, do the same using a heating pad. Keeping your head elevated while you sleep can also help bring swelling down. Anti inflammatory medicine, either prescribed or over-the-counter, can be used in some cases.

With treatment or naturally, your facial swelling should begin going down within a few days of your wisdom teeth removal. If swelling increases more than three after your surgery, you should contact your dentist, as this could mean that your socket is infected.

Whether wisdom teeth removal or a regular cleaning, you're always in good hands at City Dentists.
Whether wisdom teeth removal or a regular cleaning, you’re always in good hands at City Dentists.

Why wisdom teeth get removed

Wisdom teeth are typically the very last teeth to come in, often not until the teenage years or early twenties, according to Better Health Victoria. As a result, depending on the angle at which they erupt, they can cause crowding and push into the gum and tooth adjacent to them, called impaction. Impaction can be extremely painful and lead to infection. In some cases, wisdom teeth can rub against the inner cheek, causing ulcers and making chewing painful.

As wisdom teeth begin erupting, your dentist will be able to determine if removal will be necessary, and if so, whether or not all four or just one or two of the wisdom teeth need to go. This is usually done with x-rays. In many cases, only the top or bottom row of wisdom will cause impaction, while the other other two grow in without issue. Some patients may also not have some, or any, of their wisdom teeth. This is also perfectly normal.

If your wisdom teeth do need to be removed, the surgery itself is usually fairly quick. However, care for mouth will have to continue for several days after you leave the dentist’s office. For a few days you’ll probably only be allowed to eat softer foods and will have to forego smoking or alcohol consumption. Your dentist may prescribe an anti-inflammatory, pain relief medication. After meals, you should wash warm, salty water around in your mouth and then spit it out.

One complication to look out for in the days following your procedure is the possibility of dry sockets. A dry socket is when the hole left in the wake of the removed tooth doesn’t properly heal and is left exposed, according to Healthdirect. They can be extremely painful and may also cause bad breath, an unpleasant taste or even a fever. Dry sockets are more likely to develop if you smoke or don’t have the best oral hygiene. In addition, dry sockets are more common for wisdom teeth extractions on the lower jaw than those conducted elsewhere in the mouth.

If you do have wind up having dry sockets, be sure to follow your dentist’s instructions carefully. You’ll probably have to flush out the socket with warm, salted water and then apply a medicated dressing to it. In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary.

Leading Dentist and Dental Hygienists in the Heart of Wellington

While wisdom teeth removal can seem stressful, it’s important to remember that it’s a safe, standard procedure. Whatever your needs, the team at City Dentists is here to help! City Dentists takes the convenience of its patients to heart, with its central location by the Wellington train station, professional staff and modern offices.

If you want to get your teeth looking better than ever, City Dentists can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment

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