When you were younger, getting your permanent teeth was an exciting part of your childhood. Probably because it was likely preceded by a visit from the Tooth Fairy! However, as adults, growing your last molars, or your wisdom teeth, may bring a sense of apprehension.
Due to the fact that they emerge when you’re in your late teens or early twenties, your teeth layout is formed already. Because of this, there is no space for these new teeth. Also, being placed right at the back of your mouth means that there is a higher risk of gum disease as your toothbrush cannot reach that far, properly. Due to this lack of space, your wisdom teeth might not come out completely, which could also lead to oral disease and infection. In addition, another problem with this late eruption is that your wisdom teeth could grow out at an angle, which could leave them painfully stuck in your jawbone.
All these issues result in discomfort and extreme pain, which is why your dentist may advise on the removal of your wisdom teeth after an evaluation. Whether you undergo local or general anaesthetic, it is still essential to follow the correct after-care process to limit the risk of infection and to ensure a timeous recovery.
So, what can you expect when the numbing ecstasy of the anaesthetic wears off? Quite a bit of pain and some swelling too. You could even have some additional bleeding, but these reactions are normal. However, if you experience excessive bleeding, it is important to advise your oral surgeon.
Do the same if you contract a fever or if the pain medication is not helping. These issues, in conjunction with other symptoms, could point to an infection or even nerve damage, and should be relayed to your dentist as soon as possible. Severe after-effects relating to nerve damage could also be face numbness and tingling. However, these are rare occasions, but help should be sought immediately if this happens to you.
Now, if you don’t experience these complications, your wisdom teeth removal recovery time could be a week or two, but this is dependent both on how severe your case was, as well as how you manage your post-op recovery.
You have to remember that you underwent a major surgery, and even though you’ll be able to drive and do most of the things you could do pre-surgery, you should still rest after the operation. Not only does your body need to recover from the anaesthetic, but you also need to ensure that you don’t move or dislodge the blood clot that has formed in that now-empty tooth cavity. Because of the latter, it is best not to brush your teeth and floss for a day or two after the surgery. Don’t be alarmed if you notice bruising along your jaw. This is part of the recovery process and will diminish as you heal.
Because of this clot, and the fact that your mouth is still sensitive, it is advised that you stay away from certain foods and drinks until it is healed. This includes hot beverages like coffee and tea, as well as soft drinks and alcohol. When it comes to eating, it is strongly advised that you steer clear of hard foods such as crunchy fruits and vegetables, meat and nuts. You may also think that drinking through a straw is helping but the sucking motion could actually dislodge the blood clot.
What you should be stocking up on is plenty of soft, liquid foods such as yoghurt, custard, jellies and soups. It is also important to ensure proper oral hygiene to prevent infection. Even though you are discouraged from brushing your teeth for the first couple of days, you can lightly rinse your mouth with clean salt water. Once you feel ready, maybe after three or four days, you can move on to firmer foods, but still nothing crunchy or hard. In addition, you should use your other teeth to chew any type of food that you eat.
There are also other ways make you a bit more comfortable during your recovery period. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, you could try using an extra pillow at night to elevate your head. If you want to lessen the swelling, an ice pack will do wonders, while using a warm cloth or compress could help to relieve the pain in your jaw.
It is also important to follow all of your oral surgeon’s post-op advice and recommendations. Complete the course of antibiotics if required and take the pain medication as and when needed. Your dentist may schedule a follow-up appointment for about a week after the operation to ascertain where you are on your road to recovery. If you follow their directions, you should be back to normal, fully healed and eating crunchy celery sticks in no time at all!