Hello! I hope you’re having a beautiful day. 😊💙 Back in June, a few weeks after I had my wisdom teeth removed, I started a mini blog series about the experience. I wanted to share what the process was like for me, discussing details concerning the day of the surgery, as well as how the healing process went.
I ended up sharing two posts that month, and I was planning to share one more with important tips and tricks that would be helpful to others. However, I didn’t end up going through with it because of how frustrated I was by how little I could eat.
I wanted to be more positive about it, but if I’d written a post pretending to be upbeat about the healing process, I would have been lying and making it out to be something that it wasn’t. Now that I can eat normally again (I have made a complete recovery now! 🎉💙), I know that I’m ready to share one more post in this series with some important information and tips. 😊
If you’re going to be having this same surgery soon, or you know you’ll need it someday (it’s unfortunate how many people have wisdom teeth problems!), I’d love to be an encouragement to you. This was the first major surgery I ever had, and coming from someone who’s pretty scared of and/or uncomfortable about all things doctor-related, this surgery was not too much for me to face.
Just as a quick disclaimer, I’m going to discuss some post-op procedures (things I had to do to completely recover) that are quite gross, but is just a reality of this surgery. Some of the tips won’t be graphic, but others will, since the first three or four weeks after having your wisdom teeth out is learning how to properly care for open wounds while they close up and heal.
If you want to read about how the surgery day went for me, as well as what I ate while recovering, you can go read those posts here! But for now, I have some other tips to share on this post. 💕 I hope they can help you!
Wisdom Teeth Surgery Recovery:
Tips and Tricks
Make sure that a nurse or the oral surgeon gives you a dental syringe before you leave the office after surgery. This is SUPER important because this is how you’ll keep your gums/wounds clean! The syringe I was given was not shaped like a normal one (with a small, cone-shaped opening), but looks more like a talon. It has a hook shape with a very small opening at the end so that when you spray the water onto the sockets (yeah, that’s what they’re called), it applies a slight amount of pressure, thus cleaning the areas thoroughly. If you don’t have this and just use a normal syringe, it would just pour water over the sockets and not clean them out.
Do a warm salt water rinse a couple of times a day for the first four or five days post-op. This was so annoying because slowly swishing warm salt water over my sockets made them tingle slightly 😂 which I guess means it was working! My mom made me do it, though (*high fives her*), which I’m thankful for now, because having those open wounds in your mouth for weeks leaves a huge possibility for bacteria to grow (yuck!). The salt water rinse helped keep them clean and sterilized in a way, because I was also taking antibiotics for the first week and a half or so to reduce the risk of infection. All you have to do is warm up a cup of water in the microwave, add maybe a teaspoon of salt to it and stir, then take big mouthfuls of it, swish for a minute or two, then spit it out, doing this until the cup is empty.
Have someone else rinse your gums after every meal. If at all possible, do this! I could barely open my mouth because my jaw was so sore for weeks after the surgery, so having someone else do it (i.e. my mom, haha) was definitely something I needed. She used the syringe and a glass of water (without salt) to rinse the sockets. It didn’t feel great for the first week or so, since there were some nerves exposed on one (it was where the tooth causing me the most pain used to be!), but the rest just felt raw. She did it as gently as she could while still cleaning them, which I’m very thankful for.
On the day of the surgery (and if you need them in the days following), cut the gauze down so that you won’t gag on it. As a matter of fact, have someone else cut the gauze, because when you’re drugged after the surgery, you shouldn’t be holding scissors. 😂👌🏼 Post-op 101! Anyway, when my mom replaced the gauze on my gums once we got home from the oral surgeon’s office, they were so big that I started to gag on them. 😑 Yeah, I spit up blood. DON’T ATTEMPT. Have the gauze cut to where they’re placed over the wounds and absorb the blood and excess spit without nudging the back of your throat. It was hard for me and my mom to figure out, since my wisdom teeth were right there at the back of my mouth, but she found that cutting the gauze we were given in half worked well for me. By the evening of the surgery day, I didn’t need them anymore, anyway. 😊
Eat very slowly for the first two weeks. I found that keeping all food, both fluid and soft foods, in the center of my tongue and then swallowing it was the best thing to do. Small mouthfuls is key, and allowing the food to break down slowly on your tongue takes forever, but it reduces particles falling back to the open wounds. While you’ll still be having the sockets cleaned out with water a few times a day, it’s still good to reduce food getting stuck there if at all possible.
Don’t attempt to bite/chew anything for the first few weeks. My tongue, teeth, jaw, and gums were all tingly and sore for longer than I would have expected – but then, I did have four adult teeth removed from my gums! This resulted in being unable to bite into anything, even bread. The movement was too much. It took quite a while to begin reintroducing foods that required any breaking down.
Don’t be surprised if in the first couple of days following the surgery, you can feel the rest of your teeth slightly repositioning. This happened to me within hours after the surgery – my front teeth were not loose, but they felt like they were moving. It was because my teeth are very crowded, so when those four pesky, extra teeth were gone, it freed up space in my gums and instantly began helping the rest of my teeth! 😄 I haven’t noticed a huge alignment difference in the months following the surgery, but I am certain that my teeth moved ever so slightly, since I could literally feel it that first day.
Don’t eat any food that doesn’t break down for at least a month. Wanna hear a fun story? 😂 (Well, my mom didn’t think it was funny…) My brother bought kettle corn a few weeks after I had the surgery, and I decided to slowly eat some, thinking I could just swallow the little shell pieces and softly chew the rest. Well, when my mom went to rinse my mouth the time after I ate that, it took at least fifteen minutes for her to flush out the pieces of popcorn I got stuck in my two bottom sockets. It didn’t hurt, but it sure was annoying to keep my mouth open for that long and pray the little shell pieces broke loose from my gums! So, save yourself the trouble: don’t eat popcorn. Or anything else that doesn’t break down. XD
Dry socket is a possibility, but it’s not a huge complication of the surgery. We had this mentioned to us on my surgery day, and I read about it online, as well. ‘Dry socket’ refers to a possible condition of the gums when they’re first beginning to heal, as well as what may happen if they’re not properly cleaned. At first, from what my mom and I heard and read, we were scared that I’d get dry socket and then not completely heal, but that’s not what it is.
From how I understand it, it actually just means your body goes through more pain to heal from dental surgery than someone who doesn’t have dry socket. If I had gotten it in either of my sockets, the way they treat it is to provide pain relief, or an herbal dressing (think gauze, not salad, haha) to further cleanse the healing gums.
So, if your oral surgeon is warning you about this or you read a creepy article online, don’t despair! Everyone’s mouth is different, so this surgery is a slightly different experience for each individual. How my body ended up healing, and because my mom and I kept up with cleaning my mouth, it resulted in my not getting dry socket. If you do get it, however, you will heal from the surgery, even if you go through more pain. Stay strong. 💖 (Read this helpful article for more information on treating dry socket!)
Stay on top of taking pain meds, but listen to your body’s needs, not just what the doctor recommends. I’ve had this happen more than once. Doctors have recommended higher doses of pain relief than what my body ended up needing, which is frustrating because I’m not going to over-drug my body; I only take what I need. So, because my mom has taught me about the benefits of taking over-the-counter pain medication to cope with pain before trying stronger drugs, I carried that knowledge over into this situation.
The oral surgeon gave me an antibiotic to take to reduce the risk of infection (which I took), as well as a bottle of narcotics to take for the first few days following the surgery to combat the pain. Well, I’d never had narcotics before (I still haven’t), and judging by the amount of discomfort I faced once the initial numbing after surgery wore off, I knew that alternating between Tylenol and Ibuprofen would work perfectly.
It’s tempting to first try stronger drugs, especially if we’re in a lot of pain, but I think it’s also worth seeing if smaller doses/lighter drugs work fine before we give our bodies more pain relief than they need.
Thank you so much for reading this post! I hope that it could be an encouragement to you if you’re going to have this surgery soon, or if you’ll need it eventually. Going ahead and having this surgery done now instead of waiting until I was in massive pain was worth it, because now it’s all over with and I don’t have to worry about it anymore!
Let me know in the comments below if you have anything else you’d like me to write about on this topic. 🙂 Also, if you have a specific question, I’d be happy to answer you directly, as well!