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5 Must-Dos to Ease Your Recovery After Wisdom Tooth Removal

Painful, pestering, and pesky - wisdom teeth can be a real problem. Extraction of wisdom teeth is a standard dental procedure that many people undergo at some stage in their lives. While it is a routine operation, the recovery process can be uncomfortable.

To help you navigate this healing period more smoothly, here are 5 tips to help ease your recovery after wisdom tooth removal.

So, take a deep breath and let's get started.

Key Takeaways

  •  To alleviate discomfort and reduce swelling, use a cold compress.
  •  Sleep with your head elevated to promote pain relief
  •  Take precautions to prevent dry sockets, such as avoiding activities that could dislodge the blood clot.
  •  Rinsing with warm salt water to assist the healing process
  •  Follow a soft-food diet and avoid smoking and alcohol to aid in recovery and minimize complications

Apply A Cold Compress

One of the immediate concerns following wisdom tooth extraction is swelling. Swelling can cause discomfort and pain in the surgical area. To minimize swelling and alleviate the discomfort, it's advisable to apply a cold compress to your cheeks for the first 24 hours after the procedure.

Be sure to use a clean cloth or wrap an ice pack in a towel. Apply for 15-20 minutes and rest the skin between applications. This can help reduce inflammation and enhance your comfort during the initial stages of recovery.

This cold compress also helps with controlling the bleeding from the fresh extraction site.

Sleep With Your Head Elevated

Sleeping with your head elevated is another crucial step in ensuring a smoother recovery process. This elevated position will help reduce the chances of excess blood flow to the surgical site, which can exacerbate swelling and pain. Adequate rest is essential for healing, so ensuring you're comfortable during sleep is paramount.

There are several methods you can employ to ensure you sleep with your head elevated effectively:

  •  Extra Pillows: The simplest way to elevate your head is by using extra pillows. Stack them to create a comfortable incline. This method allows you to control the elevation and find the angle that works best for you.
  •  Wedge Pillows: Special wedge-shaped pillows are designed for this purpose. They offer consistent elevation and support, ensuring you maintain the correct position throughout the night.
  •  Recliner Chair: Some people find sleeping in a recliner chair more comfortable during the initial days of recovery. The chair's natural incline can provide optimal head elevation.

Be Cautious About Dry Socket

Dry socket is a condition that typically arises a few days after a tooth extraction, particularly after the removal of wisdom teeth. It occurs when the blood clot that naturally forms in the empty tooth socket is dislodged, dissolves too early, or fails to develop properly. This exposes the underlying nerves and bone, causing severe pain and complications. Symptoms include pain that begins a few days after surgery and radiates to your ear and neck, a bad taste in your mouth, and bad breath. If you experience any of these, contact your dentist right away.

Here are some tips to help prevent dry sockets:

  •  Avoid Suction: Steer clear of activities that involve strong suction, such as using straws or smoking, as they can dislodge the clot.
  •  Gentle Oral Hygiene: Continue to brush your teeth, but be extremely gentle around the surgical area to avoid dislodging the clot.
  •  Adhere to Post-Op Instructions: Your oral surgeon will provide specific post-operative instructions. Strictly follow these guidelines to minimize the risk of dry sockets.
  •  Warm salt water rinse: To maintain cleanliness and decrease inflammation, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water multiple times a day.

Stick To a Soft-Food Diet

A soft-food diet is recommended after wisdom tooth removal because it allows your surgical sites to heal more effectively and reduces the chances of complications. Here are some reasons why it's crucial:

  •  Minimizes Irritation: Hard or crunchy foods can irritate the surgical sites, potentially leading to bleeding or infection. A soft-food diet minimizes this risk, ensuring a smoother healing process.
  •  Promotes Healing: Soft foods are gentle on your gums, making it easier for your body to repair and regenerate tissue, which is essential for a speedy recovery.
  •  Prevents Damage: Chewing on hard foods can lead to pressure on the surgical area, potentially dislodging blood clots and slowing down the healing process.

While you're on a soft-food diet, it's equally important to know what to avoid. Steer clear of hard, crunchy, or spicy foods, as they can irritate your surgical sites. Additionally, foods with small seeds or nuts should be avoided to prevent particles from getting lodged in the extraction sites.

Avoid Smoking and Alcohol

Both alcohol and smoking habits have the potential to severely hinder the healing process, elevate the risk of complications, and prolong discomfort. To safeguard your well-being, it is imperative to diligently follow your dentist's post-operative instructions, which typically include stringent recommendations to abstain from smoking and alcohol throughout the recovery period.

By adhering to these guidelines, you empower your body to heal effectively and efficiently, minimizing discomfort and mitigating complications. Here are 5 compelling reasons to abstain:

  •  Drug interactions: After a surgical procedure, your oral surgeon may prescribe you certain medicines, such as analgesics and antibiotics, to make your recovery smooth and uneventful. Alcohol is known to interact with these drugs and can lead to adverse side effects.
  •  Reducing Swelling and Inflammation: Both substances can exacerbate post-operative swelling and discomfort, thereby impeding the healing process.
  •  Boosting Immune Response: Avoiding alcohol and smoking helps your body better ward off potential infections and complications.
  •  Pain and Discomfort Management: These substances can heighten pain sensitivity, underscoring the importance of abstaining for a more comfortable recovery.
  •  Expediting Healing: By refraining from alcohol and smoking, you contribute to a quicker and more effective healing process, ultimately shortening the recovery period.

Should you experience any post-operative pain or discomfort, seeking prompt guidance from your dentist is the wisest course of action.


The recovery time for wisdom tooth extraction averages one to two weeks. However, many individuals can typically resume their normal routines, including school and work, within three to five days. Following your surgeon's detailed postoperative instructions is crucial for ensuring comfort and a smooth healing process.
Day 3 is often considered the worst day after wisdom tooth extraction because swelling peaks during the initial 48 to 72 hours and then plateau for 2-3 days. This makes the 3rd to 5th days particularly challenging regarding pain and swelling. Immediate use of ice packs can help minimise swelling during this period.
In cases where the teeth were impacted, the healing process after wisdom tooth extraction may extend up to a week. Pain lasts for 3 days to one week unless complications such as infection or dry socket occur. A dry socket arises when the blood clot is dislodged from the extraction site.
Approximately one hour after surgery, you can safely remove the gauze sponges from your mouth and consume a meal. After surgery, consuming only soft foods during the initial 24-hour period is recommended. Additionally, it's recommended to avoid hot foods and drinks for several hours after the surgical procedure.
Throughout the procedure, you should experience no pain and minimal discomfort, if any. Post-procedure, the extraction site may feel slightly tender for several days. However, with adequate rest and recovery, you should return to normal within approximately 7 days.
During the initial 24 hours post-surgery, it's crucial to refrain from rinsing, spitting, and consuming hot drinks that may dislodge the blood clots crucial for the healing process in the empty tooth socket. It's also advisable to abstain from smoking and alcohol consumption during this period. Opt for soft or liquid food for a few days, and when chewing, use your other teeth to minimise disruption to the healing site. To ensure a comfortable recovery period, it is crucial to follow the instructions given by your oral surgeon.
On the day of the surgery, it's advised not to brush near the extraction site. However, according to the American Dental Association, normal brushing can be resumed the following day. While being careful and gentle, full brushing is recommended from the day after the wisdom tooth extraction.
Opt for soft foods that require minimal chewings, such as khichdi, yoghurt, dalia, poha, idli, and pudding, to ease the discomfort after a tooth extraction. Include protein, calcium and Vitamin C and A-rich foods to speed up healing. Prioritising a diet with these considerations can aid in a smoother and quicker healing experience following a tooth extraction.
Maintain the gauze in its position for 30-45 minutes as instructed by your oral surgeon. During the initial recovery period, take it easy and refrain from touching the wound. Follow any painkiller recommendations provided. It's crucial to avoid smoking or drinking during this time. Steer clear of mouthwash, eat carefully, and opt for sipping drinks to facilitate a smoother recovery process.
Swelling, notably in the cheek area inside and outside the mouth, is a common postoperative occurrence. This swelling is most pronounced in the initial 48 hours but gradually diminishes afterwards. Applying ice packs shortly after surgery can help alleviate the swelling.
Sometimes, wisdom teeth surgeries today do not require traditional stitches. This is especially so in upper teeth or when the teeth are fully erupted in the mouth.
Apply ice to the swelling. Eat soft foods. Apply pressure inside your mouth. Follow directions for medications. Maintain oral care is recommended. Rest.
Unless you have sensitive teeth, ice cream is a top choice for post-tooth extraction eating, particularly in warmer weather. Its cool and soft texture allows for comfortable consumption, even when your mouth is tender. It helps in cooling the wound site, thus helping with arresting swelling and bleeding.
Saliva can be swallowed, even if slightly blood-tinged. It is common to have blood-tinged saliva for a few hours after surgery, and it may not be necessary to have gauze in your mouth continuously. Even in the absence of active bleeding, the gum tissue may ooze slightly.
It is crucial to avoid spitting for the initial 24-48 hours after the procedure, as it can dislodge a blood clot, leading to bleeding and severe dry socket pain. If the need to spit arises, gently rinse your mouth with water and allow the water to passively fall into the sink. Additionally, refrain from using straws for the first 2-3 days to minimise the risk of complications.


In conclusion, prioritizing your post-wisdom tooth removal recovery is essential for a smoother healing process. By following these five must-dos, you can ensure a more comfortable and efficient recuperation period. Moreover, arranging periodic follow-up appointments with the experts at Hope Dental & Esthetic Clinic, Noida, can offer tailored guidance and assistance during your recuperation process.

Following these measures will not only facilitate the healing process but also minimize the chances of complications, enabling you to swiftly resume your regular activities with enhanced oral health and overall well-being!

Dr. Mimansa Bhoj

BDS, MDS (Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon)

University Gold medalist

About the Author

Dr. Mimansa is a highly accomplished oral and maxillofacial surgeon with a wealth of experience in her field. With a strong academic background and numerous gold medals, she has treated over 5000 patients for various oral and maxillofacial problems. Dr. Mimansa has practiced in different parts of India and has learned from the best in the field, making her an expert in OMFS and Dentistry. Known for her friendly and empathetic approach, she believes in providing treatments with care and compassion to heal her patients. With academic achievements, multiple scientific publications, and her current role as an Associate Professor, Dr. Mimansa is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care. She has also established a safe space, Hope Dental and Esthetic Clinic, during the pandemic, ensuring the utmost safety for patients while providing dental and medical treatments.