For most patients, recovery from wisdom teeth removal will take just a few days. Patients generally return to their daily routines shortly after the procedure, although some activities that could interfere with the healing process, like vigorous exercise, may need to be postponed for a week or two.
Patients who smoke should also plan to abstain for at least a few weeks after wisdom teeth removal, as tobacco use can lead to reduced blood flow and inflammation that can compromise the body’s ability to heal. (Ideally, patients who smoke can use this procedure as a reason to give up the habit for good!)
Working with your oral surgeon to develop a plan for post-operative self-care is an important step to minimize your risks of complications following wisdom teeth removal. Your oral surgeon can review any risk factors specific to your case that you should be aware of.
The most common complication associated with wisdom teeth removal is fibrinolytic alveolitis, a.k.a., dry sockets, which is a painful condition that develops when the blood clot that forms to protect the socket during healing is dislodged prematurely or fails to form at all. The oral surgeon will recommend that you avoid drinking through straws for a week, avoid vigorous rinsing and forceful spitting, and smoking cessation will also limit the likelihood that you’ll get dry sockets.
Patients also should be aware of symptoms that could indicate an infection, which is another possible complication following surgery. If you experience ongoing discomfort or severe pain, a decrease then a sudden increase in swelling, fever, nausea, vomiting, redness and heat over the surgical area, foul smelling purulent discharge – check back in with your oral surgeon. Ongoing bleeding that continues more than 24 hours after the surgery also warrants follow-up with the surgeon.
If you know what to expect during the process of recovering from wisdom tooth removal and know what symptoms may signal a problem, you should be prepared to take action to lower your risk of complications and address issues promptly if they arise. Discuss this aspect of wisdom teeth removal, along with any specific concerns you may have, with our dual degree oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Steven Koos DDS, MD, during the treatment planning process.