Wisdom Tooth Problems (cont.)
If a wisdom tooth is impacted or is emerging and causing problems, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. While you are waiting for treatment, you can relieve pain and swelling with home treatment.
- Use an ice pack on the outside of your cheek. Apply it for 20 minutes, then remove it for 20 minutes. Repeat as needed.
- Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water every 2 to 3 hours. You can make your own salt water by mixing 1 tsp (5 g) of salt in a medium-sized glass [8 fl oz (240 mL)] of warm water.
- Try an over-the-counter medicine to help relieve your face or jaw pain. Carefully read and follow all labels on the medicine bottle and box. Medicines that might help include:
- Do not use heat or put an aspirin directly on your gums. Aspirin used in this way can damage your gums.
Your dentist or surgeon may prescribe antibiotics if you have an infection. Be sure to take this medicine for the entire time prescribed. Healing the infection before the tooth is removed makes the extraction procedure easier and will reduce the risk of problems after surgery.
After you have had a wisdom tooth extracted, the recovery period in most cases is only a few days. Take painkillers as needed, using the recommended dose. To help speed recovery and prevent complications, such as a dry socket, take the following steps:
- Change cotton gauzes before they become soaked with blood. If it doesn't cause any pain, bite down gently on the cotton gauze. Call your dentist if you still have enough bleeding to need a gauze pad after 24 hours.
- While your mouth is numb, be careful not to bite the inside of your cheek or lip or your tongue.
- Do not rinse your mouth on the day you had your surgery, because it may wash away clots and delay the healing process. On the day after surgery, very gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water—1 tsp (5 g) of salt in 8 fl oz (240 mL) of warm water—every 2 to 3 hours. This will reduce swelling, relieve pain, and clean the area.
- Relax and get plenty of rest after surgery. Strenuous physical activity may increase bleeding.
- Do not smoke cigarettes or drink through a straw. Dragging on a cigarette or sucking on a straw could dislodge the clot and delay healing. Smoking also decreases the blood flow, so healing takes longer. And smoking can bring germs and other contaminants to the surgery site.
- Apply an ice pack to the outside of your cheek for 20 minutes to reduce pain and swelling. Then remove it for 20 minutes. Repeat as needed. Some swelling after tooth removal is normal.
- Do not lie flat. This may cause you to bleed longer. Prop up your head with pillows.
- Avoid rubbing the area with your tongue or fingers.
- After the numbness is gone, drink only clear liquids and eat soft foods such as gelatin, pudding, or thin soup. Avoid hot liquids, alcoholic beverages, and hard, sticky foods. Gradually add more solid foods to your diet as healing progresses. Try not to chew in the areas where your tooth was extracted.
- Gentle rinsing with warm salt water after meals will help keep food particles out of the area where your tooth was removed.
- Continue to brush your other teeth and your tongue carefully with a soft-bristled brush. Avoid brushing around the extraction area until your dentist says you may brush there.