Wisdom teeth surgery is a common, out-patient surgical procedure using IV anesthesia for the purpose of extracting third molars. Most wisdom teeth removals cause relatively minor discomfort and very few complications. Nevertheless, proper care after surgery is crucial.
If you will be helping a friend or a family member after wisdom teeth surgery, here’s what you need to know about proper care. At Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, our patients remain in the operatory and rest under our care immediately following surgery during which time you, the caregiver, will receive important post-operative instructions, prescriptions, gauze and a syringe.
Upon discharge, take the patient directly home and get him/her settled in for a day of rest and recuperation. It is important that a responsible adult stays with the patient to care for him/her throughout the day. Fill prescriptions as soon as possible.
You will want to help your loved one with the following:
1. Take it easy for the next few days.
Rest and relax. Restrict activities, avoid exercise and physical exertion for several days following wisdom teeth surgery.
2. Care for the surgical area immediately following surgery and for the several days after.
Leave the gauze covering the surgical wound until you’re home. Change the gauze every hour until the bleeding stops. The gauze should be slightly dampened in cold water prior to use. Begin cold therapy by placing bags of ice on the cheeks. For additional information, click on Post-Op Surgery Instructions.
3. Avoid “dry socket.”
Dry socket is a complication which occurs when the blood clot on the surgical site becomes dislodged. It is very painful! The goal after surgery is to keep the blood clot in place until healing is complete. To avoid dry socket, the patient should not use drinking straws because sucking will cause dislodging. Inhaling on a cigarette will do the same. Stick with soft foods that will not interfere with the clot and healing. And, be gentle when rinsing, brushing and swishing.
4. Use medication and other ways to control pain and swelling.
Most post-surgical pain can be managed with a combination of over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Your surgeon will also provide a prescription for pain medication and it is advised to use it as prescribed and only as needed. Please refer to Post-Op Surgery Instructions for more information about managing the patient's pain.
Swelling (and some mild bruising) is a common post-surgery side effect. An ice pack or a bag of frozen peas/corn wrapped in a towel can be placed on the cheek where the extraction occurred to reduce pain and swelling.
5. Eat the right foods.
On the day of surgery, patients should consume a mostly liquid diet. Soft foods can be introduced back into the patient's diet as tolerated. As a caregiver, you will need to prepare in advance to ensure that the pantry and refrigerator are stocked up with suitable food and drink. Some good options are:
- Smoothies and shakes
- Ice cream
- Mashed bananas
- Mashed potatoes
- Blended soups or broths
- Scrambled eggs
- Water, juice, milk, etc.
Avoid serving crunchy, tough and spicy foods. For more information about what to eat after wisdom teeth surgery, refer to Foods to Eat after Oral Surgery for more information.
Contact Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
If you notice unusual symptoms or prolonged discomfort after surgery, be sure to contact Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery as soon as possible.