If you are one of the many people who will be undergoing wisdom teeth removal surgery, you probably have many questions like what the procedure entails, what recovery looks like after having your wisdom teeth removed, and even how to sleep comfortably after the procedure. Rest is necessary after any surgery, so it’s important to know how to capitalize on this essential step to recovery!
What are wisdom teeth?
The wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are the last of the adult molars on each side in the back of your mouth. They typically come in during late adolescence or early adulthood—between ages 17 and 25, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS).
Wisdom teeth are important because they are one of the final sets of molars to erupt and help with chewing. Wisdom teeth can also be important for jaw health since they take up space in the jaw and help keep everything in proper alignment.
Unfortunately, sometimes they can cause problems like crowding and infections if they don’t have enough space to grow properly in your mouth. These are called impacted wisdom teeth. These teeth may grow sideways or only partially emerge from the gum line. That’s why many people choose to get them removed, either before or after they erupt.
What is wisdom teeth removal?
Wisdom teeth removal is one of the most common procedures performed in the United States. More than five million people have their wisdom teeth extracted every year.
The AAOMS says that wisdom tooth removal is generally recommended when:
- There is inadequate space in the mouth for the teeth to erupt fully and function normally (malocclusion)
- The wisdom teeth are not in proper alignment and cannot be kept clean
- The wisdom teeth have partially erupted through the gums, causing pain or discomfort
The wisdom teeth removal procedure is fairly straightforward. The dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area around your wisdom teeth. Then, they will use a scalpel to cut away the gum tissue and bone that is blocking the tooth from erupting. They may also use metal forceps to remove the tooth.
Most people feel some pain and swelling after wisdom teeth removal surgery. The AAOMS recommends taking over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen to help manage the discomfort. You will also likely have a gauze pad taped in place over the surgical site to control any bleeding and allow a blood clot to form.
It is important to rest as much as possible after wisdom teeth surgery. You should avoid eating hard or crunchy foods, smoking, and drinking through a straw for the first few days after surgery.
After a few days of rest and taking pain medication, most people feel fairly good. You should be able to resume your normal activities within a week or two. However, it may take several weeks for the swelling and bruising around the surgical site to go away completely.
How to Sleep After Wisdom Teeth Removal
Getting a good night’s sleep after wisdom teeth extraction is essential for a speedy and comfortable recovery! Sometimes just taking a hot bath or shower before bed and drinking some warm milk with honey (if it’s not too late in the evening) can help aid in relaxation and make you feel more comfortable before you fall asleep.
Finding the Right Position
One of the best things you can do during the healing process of wisdom tooth extraction is sleep in a reclined position so that you have your head elevated and are not lying flat on your back. It’s important to sleep with your head elevated after tooth extraction, so blood and fluids do not pool near the surgical site.
Another great way to comfortably sleep after wisdom teeth removal is by using a sleep wedge pillow or sleep apnea pillow designed for this purpose. These pillows help keep your head elevated and neck in a comfortable position while you sleep, which can help reduce swelling and pain.
If you cannot fall asleep in a reclined position, try to apply ice or an ice pack on the area around your extraction site to help control excessive swelling. Also, stacking a few pillows may help to reduce swelling and will allow you to avoid sleeping flat on your back.
Things to Avoid After Tooth Extraction
There are a few things you will want to avoid after wisdom tooth removal surgery to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery.
- Don’t drink fluids right before bed so that you do not have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
- Avoid smoking, as it can delay healing and increase the risk of infection.
- Drinking alcohol can also delay healing and increase the risk of infection.
- Avoid drinking through a straw can cause liquid to pool around the surgical site and increase swelling. The suction can cause a dry socket and the release of formed blood clots.
- Avoid eating hard or crunchy foods, as these can cause pain and discomfort around the surgical site.
- Refrain from partaking in physical activities because you will need to take it easy for a few days after surgery so that your body has time to heal.
If you feel your symptoms worsen throughout the week after getting your wisdom teeth removed, contact your dentist immediately.
Get Some Expert Advice
Wisdom teeth extraction is a common procedure, but it’s important to be aware of what to expect during and after surgery. Always make sure to consult a licensed professional, whether it be a dentist or oral surgeon, before deciding whether wisdom teeth removal surgery is right for you. They will be able to provide accurate aftercare instructions tailored to your procedure, answer any specific questions you may have, as well as offer more tips on how to sleep comfortably and have a smooth recovery after surgery.