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A perfect smile always requires good-looking teeth. For many people, though, maintaining perfect teeth means removing wisdom teeth that could cause crowding, eruption, alignment issues, or damage to adjacent teeth. Wisdom teeth extractions are common for teenagers and young adults, and while modern medicine has made the extraction process more tolerable, it’s normal to feel moderate pain a few days after the procedure.
This is a simulation of what your dentist did or will do during the extraction. Note that there are different types of wisdom teeth and appropriate methods for it. Regardless, if you’re experiencing pain post-extraction or are nervous about how you’ll manage the pain after the procedure, here’s how you can reduce the pain during your recovery period.
How Long Is the Recovery Period?
It’s impossible to have a specific answer, as the recovery period varies between patients. Factors such as the process their dentist used, a patient’s ability to tolerate the pain, and other dental practices may affect one’s ability to heal. In a best case scenario, the pain disappears in less than four days. In other cases, it may take up to two weeks before the wound in your mouth can really heal. Since wisdom teeth affect mostly young adults, you may have to take a few days off your studies or work after your extraction, unless you can manage the pain and your daily tasks.
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If you want it to heal as fast as possible, you’ll need to be careful about what you eat and how you handle the wound in your mouth. Like any wound, blood clots will form in the wound. There will be some inflammation and bruising as your body responds to the open wound. After the clotting shuts the wound in around a week, your dentist will remove the stitches, but you should feel some stiffness.
Pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil temporarily dull your nervous system’s sensors responsible for experiencing pain. These are relatively safe and available in drugstores and convenience stores without the need for a doctor’s prescription. These are the easiest ways to reduce the pain during your recovery.
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If you’re currently in post-extraction recovery and find that OTC painkillers aren’t working, it may be that the pain is so severe that regular painkillers do not have enough active ingredients to dull the pain. Should none of the other tips prove to work, you may need to go back to your dentist or visit a doctor to prescribe you stronger painkillers. These painkillers require prescriptions because there’s a risk of addiction to its effects, so your pharmacist won’t dispense these drugs unless you have one.
Avoid Disrupting the Clotting Process
Your blood should start clotting the wound during the first few days. During this time, you’ll want to avoid accidentally dislodging these clots or else the process would take longer and your wound will take longer to heal. For the first few days, avoid hard foods, brushing your teeth near the extraction area, and drinking hot drinks. After 24 from the extraction, rinse your mouth with an anti-bacterial mouthwash to clean any bacteria build-up around the area.
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Eat Soft Food for the First Day
Avoid tough meat dishes like pork chops and fried fish for the first day after the extraction or until the pain subsides naturally. Solid food, hard and sticky candies, and other hard objects in your mouth can damage the healing process and open the wound. Avoid food that requires a lot of chewing and eat soft foods like:
- Soft noodles
- Mashed beans
- Mashed potato
- Soft cheese/yogurt/ice cream/milkshakes
If you want to speed up the healing process, eat food rich in protein and zinc. This includes milk, eggs, and beans.
No Smoking and Drinking Alcohol Until Completely Healed
While your wound is still healing, smoking can both irritate and risk infection. While some may recommend avoiding smoking for only the first 24 hours, it’s better to be safe and sorry and avoid smoking altogether until the pain has subsided and the wound has healed.
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Alcohol may also irritate the wound and cause more pain while disrupting the clotting and healing process. Until your wound has completely closed, avoid drinking alcoholic beverages and washing your mouth with alcohol-based mouthwash.
Some people are tempted to chew on straws, and this can irritate your gums and slow down the clotting process. Aside from this, it can make you develop a “dry socket,” which is when your blood does not clot on the tooth socket where your wisdom tooth once was. This is a normal complication with smokers and people with complex extractions, but chewing on straws can contribute to dry socket. When this happens, there is no clotting and you’ll have to visit your dentist to have it fixed.
The healing process of a wisdom tooth extraction can be painful for some, but with the right precautions, it is manageable. The better you cooperate and let the healing process happen, the faster you can reduce the pain and enjoy the benefits of a better smile.