In previous blogs we have tackled the question of whether a wisdom tooth needs to be extracted or not. This article aims to give some general advice on how to look after your mouth and the extraction site should you need to extract a wisdom tooth.
SEE ALSO: Wisdom Teeth Removal: Go or No Go?
Wisdom teeth extractions should be viewed generally like any other extraction, or indeed any other surgery, where post operative complications may arise, and of course the body responds to the surgery in trying to heal itself in many ways, hence we should be ready to expect certain symptoms. It is important to note here that there are some cases where the postoperative symptoms are very minimal, and other cases where the symptoms could be exaggerated. The aim of this article is to give a general view of what to expect and how to react to the symptoms. It is better to be prepared for a worst case scenario, and by being prepared we could help reduce the effects of the post operative symptoms.
Like any surgery, taking a wisdom tooth out can result in discomfort for a few days following the surgery. This is to be expected and can be remedied with simple pain killers. Your dentist or surgeon will be able to prescribe the correct medication and dosage according to how the surgery went, and we normally recommend the use of the analgesics for a few days after the surgery. This should not be long term and gradually you can start to wean yourself off the medications as necessary. Depending on the surgery, infection status of the tooth, and general well being of the patient, you may also be prescribed antibiotics, and if this is the case, then please make sure to complete the whole course and not to stop even if you are symptom free.
In order to repair itself, the body sends healing cells to the extraction site. This leads to a pooling of fluid which is known in medical terms as oedema. This is again a normal reaction to any surgery and should resolve by itself within a few days. You can help reduce any swelling by applying a cold pack externally to the affected area.
This is usually self-limiting as the pooling of cells causes a blood clot to form at the extraction site. This could take up to a few hours and it is normal for some oozing of blood to occur up to the first 24 hours or so. Your dentist may apply local measures such as stitches to help reduce the bleeding when this is necessary. You can help stop the bleeding yourself by making sure you apply pressure on the extraction site by biting onto a gauze for the first few hours after the removal of the tooth. The more pressure that is applied the better. You also have to refrain from agitating the blood clot forming, by not rinsing, or pushing your tongue against the socket, and if you can avoid spitting it would be advantageous.
This is a rare complication but can occur after removal of a difficult extraction especially in severely impacted teeth. Again, this is usually self-limiting and resolves after a few days. It can be worrying for patients to see a bruise, but it is a normal reaction of the body to any difficult surgery.
A dry socket is an infection that occurs after an extraction. This usually occurs as the blood clot gets washed away (for various reasons, including food impaction) and exposes the walls of the bone, which then in turn become infected. This normally occurs 3-5 days after the extraction and is identifiable by the change in nature of the pain from a deep ache to a more continuous pain. The pain is usually accompanied with a foul taste. There are predisposing factors to this condition, including smoking, oral contraceptives and the difficulty of the surgery. Although this is a condition that may arise, especially with difficult wisdom teeth extractions, it is fortunately easy to treat with a simple cleaning of the socket and dressing with an antiseptic dressing and the symptoms usually resolve within minutes, and therefore if you suspect that your socket is infected, it is advisable you see your dentist as soon as possible to treat this condition.
So, in conclusion, although there are some symptoms to be expected after extraction of wisdom teeth, these are usually self limiting. In addition all the above symptoms usually occur for the first few days after surgery and most patients recover fully from any symptoms within 7-10 days. If you have any doubts however a quick visit to your dentist will help alleviate your concerns and tackle any issues which may have arisen.