When your third molars begin to affect your oral health, the smartest thing to do is to get them removed. However, removal of an impacted wisdom tooth involves a surgical procedure. Therefore, post-surgery care is extremely important. In order to avoid unnecessary pain, infection or swelling, you need to follow the aftercare instructions given by your dentist.
Importance of Aftercare
Majority of the people with impacted teeth prefer removing them. Besides temporary bleeding, discomfort, swelling and bruising after surgery, majority of the patients recover swiftly. However, a common preventable surgical complication is a dry socket.
A dry socket occurs when newly clotted blood within the socket is removed or dissolved, exposing bone and nerve endings. A dry socket can cause severe pain, bad breathe, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, swollen lymph nodes in the neck area. You might also experience a mild fever.
Here are some post-extraction healing instructions that you can follow to prevent potential complications.
For at least two days after the surgery, apply ice packs to your cheek after every 20 minute interval. This will help minimize bruising, swelling, or any discomfort. If your wisdom tooth was infected before the surgery, your dentist may suggest using warm and moist compresses rather than ice.
You might encounter some bleeding and it’s normal. Place a gauze pad over the extraction site for half an hour after the extraction. In case of heavy bleeding, biting down on the gauze pad or placing your fingers over the pad continuously for 30 minutes to stop the bleeding. You can also use moistened tea bag instead of the gauze pad. Tea contains tannic acid which contracts the bleeding vessels and helps the blood clot to set.
Do not eat, drink or speak for the first few hours after the surgery and plan to rest for the remainder of the day. In order to prevent dislodging the blood clot, avoid rinsing vigorously or using a straw while drinking. Also, avoid heavy exercises for a few days. Avoid smoking and spitting excessively on the day of the surgery, or as long as the bleeding continues. After 12 hours, you are allowed to gently rinse with a mild mouthwash or salt water. You can brush your teeth the night of the surgery, however, avoid touching the surgical area.
Once the bleeding stops, keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of lukewarm or cold fluids. You can resume having your regular meals. However, it is best for you to stick to clear liquids and soft foods such as puddings, eggs, and mashed potatoes. Liquified vegetables, meats and fruits are also good for you. Avoid drinking soft drinks or foods like popcorn, peanuts, and pasta at any cost, as they can dislodge the blood clot.
Take the prescribed pain medications and antibiotics as directed by your dentist. If you are on strong narcotic pain medication, you should avoid driving, operating machinery or having avoid alcoholic drinks.
When to Call Your Dentist
The pain and swelling should disappear gradually. However, speak to your dentist if you experience any of the following:
- Swelling that gets worse instead of better.
- Excessive bleeding that won’t subside with pressure.
- Severe, throbbing pain three to four days following surgery.
- An elevated fever that persists.