Wisdom Teeth Removal Recovery: How Long Does the Pain & Swelling Last?
Let’s Talk Wisdom Tooth Extraction Healing Process
The timeline for wisdom tooth removal recovery is a big concern for parents and teens. This is especially true if wisdom tooth extraction is being planned around a school (or college) calendar. If you’re having wisdom teeth extracted as an adult, you’ll also need to know what to expect after oral surgery, particularly when it comes to days taken off work.
One of the biggest factors that have to do with your wisdom tooth removal recovery is swelling or inflammation. Although it’s natural to see some swelling before you have your third molars removed, the surgery itself can cause inflammation in the tissues immediately around the extraction site. Knowing how to plan for your surgery and steps to take afterward can minimize potential discomfort.
How Long Does It Take For Pain To Go Away After Wisdom Tooth Extraction Surgery?
First things first, your comfort during wisdom tooth extraction recovery is a top priority. Since swelling is typically the leading cause of pain and discomfort, you’ll want to take steps to keep inflammation down. With the right planning and close communication with your oral surgeon, you can significantly lessen the opportunity for swelling on the days following your wisdom tooth removal.
Today, most dentists and oral surgeons are getting away from using opioids/narcotics following a wisdom tooth removal procedure. Although that may sound a bit concerning at first, this change is actually a good thing. Thanks to advancements in medication, there are safer, non-addictive pain relievers that can be used to ease patient comfort and reduce post-surgery swelling. One example is Exparel; this numbing medication is applied at the surgical site and lasts up to a few days after the wisdom tooth is removed. By that time, the majority of any inflammation or tenderness around your extraction site will subside. The end result is a more comfortable wisdom tooth recovery experience.
If you do need any type of pain relief, an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen (Motrin) is preferred, as long as you’re cleared by your doctor. Take the medication as prescribed to keep swelling down. Your surgeon might suggest taking it proactively before discomfort even develops. Depending on how complex your wisdom tooth removal was, your surgeon might also suggest a prescription medication to take during your recovery. To prevent unnecessary stomach irritation or nausea, it’s best to take all medication (prescription or over the counter) with at least a little food in your stomach. If you’re still on a soft diet — which most people are after oral surgery — eating a little yogurt, applesauce, or something similar before taking your medication can prevent an upset stomach.
Cold compresses are extremely helpful. For the first several hours after wisdom tooth surgery, plan to apply a cold compress on that side of your face for 20 minutes, then off for 20 minutes, repeating the cycle to keep swelling at bay. The cooler temperature will reduce the extent of inflammation after surgery, naturally easing any discomfort.
Wisdom Teeth Swelling Timeline
There’s a good chance that you’ll actually see wisdom tooth swelling before having them removed. One of the many reasons why wisdom teeth are extracted is because of the pressure and pain they cause as they’re developing. Some people experience off-and-on inflammation at the back of their jaw on one or both sides of their mouths. Others may develop painful cysts around their wisdom teeth, leading to swelling and pain.
How long does swelling last after wisdom teeth removal? Anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Typically, wisdom tooth swelling after surgery is short-lived. In an ideal situation, swelling should improve after a few days. As long as you carefully follow your home-care instructions, you can prevent complications and additional swelling. However, some people do see signs of swelling that take several days to subside. With the right medication and self-care, you can actively reduce swelling and ease your way to recover.
Along with swelling, you may experience some bruising or tenderness. It’s best to take at least a few days off work or school. Scheduling your wisdom tooth removal for a Wednesday or Thursday and then taking off the rest of the week is usually more than adequate to “get back to normal” by the next Monday morning. Although irritation or swelling may not be 100% resolved, it should have significantly improved enough for you to go about your day-to-day routine. In the meantime, stick to a soft diet until the surgical sites have completely healed (which is usually 10-14 days at the most.)
Do I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
At Canal Vista Family Dental, we’re committed to helping you keep your smile healthy for a lifetime. Since wisdom teeth tend to start forming in the mid to late teen years and through early adulthood, Dr. Bestandji will use intermittent full-mouth panoramic X-rays to assess their development. Once we have an image of the teeth’s position and size, we can let you know whether or not a wisdom tooth removal is necessary.
We suggest getting a wisdom tooth extraction consultation before your teen graduates high school. Dr. Bestandji will monitor the tooth development at each six-month checkup to determine if any intervention is necessary. If it is, we can coordinate a referral to a local oral surgeon to have the third molars taken out.
In most scenarios, your wisdom teeth will be fully developed by sometime in your late 20s or close to 30 years of age. Of course, there are always exceptions. Ultimately if you’re able to be pain and infection-free until your wisdom teeth are completely developed, there’s a chance that you might not ever need to have them removed. The key is to make sure they’re not pressing into adjacent teeth (damaging them) or partially erupted (where they’re prone to infection.)
We encourage you to schedule an exam and wisdom tooth consultation with our Princeton dentist if you’re experiencing any facial swelling or pain. Dr. Bestandji is happy to see new patients of all ages! Contact us today to get started.
Recommended Reading: What to Expect After a Tooth Extraction