A word you never want to hear related to you. You just went to your dentist and were told you that you need to get your wisdom teeth removed. They gave you a referral to an oral surgeon for the procedure. You’re scared, unsure and anxious. Surgery?! What does that mean for you? Is it painful? How long does it take to recover? In this post I will discuss my personal experience with getting my wisdom teeth removed. I had so many questions and so much anxiety – I researched for weeks before my procedure. I wanted to know everything I could to be prepared. My hope is that my experience can help you and reassure you going into your surgery. Here is everything you need to know before and after wisdom teeth surgery.
* Before I go any further in this post, I must make a disclaimer. I am not a doctor, and this is not a medically approved post. Do not take what I say as proper medical advice, as I am not a medical professional. These are simply my personal experiences with my surgery. Please consult your dentist or oral surgeon for proper and relevant medical advice and follow instructions they provide.
Here is what to expect and what to do before going in for your procedure.
The first step of the wisdom teeth removal process is the consultation with your surgeon. You will meet with him/her and discuss the details of your surgery. Anesthesia, procedure time, insurance coverage and all other necessary information will be given to you at this time. They will tell you that if you are being put under anesthesia you MUST have someone drive you and remain there for the entire procedure. You will also be encouraged to set up an appointment for your surgery after your consultation. However you do not have to schedule it right away.
DAY BEFORE SURGERY
I was told this little trick from a few people who have already been through this process. Drink a few glasses of pineapple juice to help prevent and reduce swelling. Pineapple juice is anti-inflamatory which helps lessen the effects of swelling afterwards. I’m not sure if it was the pineapple juice I drank, but I luckily did not have much swelling after my surgery. 🙌
Also, be sure to put two ice packs in the freezer to be ready for after your surgery.
For my surgery, I was given pure oxygen, intravenious (IV) general anesthesia and local anesthesia (numbing). Depending on your surgery details, you may not have all of these, or may have different versions. Some oral surgeons may use laughing gas (nitrous oxide) instead of oxygen or general anesthesia. Your surgery may be performed in a regular room that looks just like the dentist office rooms, as mine was. I was expecting to go into an operating room, but this was not the case. The surgery can be done right in the chair.
While you are undergoing your surgery, one of the surgeon’s medical assistants will go over post-op instructions and meds with whomever drove you. YOU CANNOT DRIVE ALONE IF YOU ARE BEING GIVEN ANESTHESIA. THEY WILL NOT LET YOU DO THE SURGERY IF YOU COME ALONE. They will discuss the meds you need to take and frequency as well as after surgery care. There are a few very important things you will need to know and adhere to after your procedure:
- Keep gauze and light pressure on the sites until they stop bleeding. Switch out every 30 minutes
- Ice the area consistently as soon as you get home. 20 minutes on each side and switch
- No drinking through a straw or spitting
- Only soft foods like soup, applesauce, yogurt for the first few days
- Keep up with your medicines – DO NOT skip any
* The best thing you can do is to do exactly what your doctor tells you to do and keep up with everything
DAY OF SURGERY
If you were given general anesthesia (put to sleep) for your surgery, you won’t remember a thing when you come out. The last thing I remebered was asking “how long does this take to kick in?” Next thing I remember is being wheeled out in a wheelchair and getting into the car. My boyfriend said I kept repeating the same things over and over and asking if we had my phone. Whoops 😆
I will say it’s difficult to swallow or drink water the first 3 hours after surgery due to being numb. Make sure you drink over a sink because you likely will spit some of it out. It is also very important to keep changing out your gauze from the wound every 30 minutes. Be sure to bite down and apply pressure to form a blood clot and stop the bleeding. I was able to stop using the gauze 4 hours later. The worst part of everything was the shooting pains I got in my tongue. It felt like someone was pricking me with needles. When I swallowed, when I took a sudden breath in, and even when talking sometimes. This was something to do with a nerve, and it slowly healed and went away.
You may be wondering how, or what to eat and drink after your surgery. Or if you’re even able to. Yes, you can eat and drink after your surgery, but you must be very careful. Super soft and liquidy foods only – think stuff you don’t have to chew. Soup, applesauce, yogurt, etc. Here is a full list of foods you can eat after wisdom teeth surgery. In my experience, eating soup or drinking a milkshake made me hurt worse the first time I tried. I found that it helped a ton to drop soup and food from the spoon onto my tongue instead of eating it off a spoon as you normally would.
Additionally, it is very important to keep icing the wound area throughout the entire day. I recommend wrapping an ice pack in a kitchen towel to reduce the sting of the cold. Ice for 20 minutes on one side, and switch to 20 minutes on the other side. After an hour or two, switch out the ice pack and put the use you used back in the freezer. Lastly, it is ok to skip brushing your teeth the first night. Gently moving around the mouthwash you’re provided should be sufficient. Remember, NO SPITTING – let it fall out of your mouth.
It is equally important to keep icing the area and keep up with medicine as day 1. Making a schedule for taking my meds made it easier to remember and not miss a dose. I felt fairly normal on day 2 – not overly swollen or sore. I was able to make a phone call and get a few things done and napped a bit in between. Most of the day was spent resting on the couch with an ice pack and watching Netflix. Make to to continue keeping up with your meds too. I stuck strictly to the time intervals given with each med. I believe being so dilligent with taking my meds on track and on time helped prevent swelling and pain. If you’re like me, your surgeon will give you basically an entire home pharmacy. 😂
Additionally, if you use an electric toothbrush, I recommend using it without turning on the power for the first few days after your surgery. Wait until day 4 or 5 to use with the power on, and be super gentle with the wound areas.
Day three was the day I was dreading the most. The doctor and people who have undergone wisdom teeth surgery say that you’re typically the most swollen on day three. This is chipmunk cheeks day! I was super lucky with very little swelling and felt pretty normal again. I was able to eat mashed up meatloaf and mashed broccoli for dinner which was a major win for me after two days of soup and applesauce.
Secondly I was able to take my pain meds a bit less frequently, although I would not recommend this. Do as your doctor or surgeon tells you until your meds run out. You are also told to rest and avoid exercise as much as possible the days following your surgery. Taking a walk is ok, but no running, jumping, lifting weights, etc. Since I was feeling fairly normal, I went outside and hit a few tennis balls with my boyfriend then watched him play tennis with friends. Please do not follow my example on this! I only say this to encourage you if you are anxious about your procedure. It may not be as bad as you anticipate – it certainly wasn’t for me!
1 WEEK AFTER
After a week passed I could safely eat mac & cheese, meatloaf, broccoli and other semi-soft foods. Sutures (stitches) come loose around day 5 or 6 and food starts getting stuck in the openings. It is a very uncomfortable feeling. This is when you will start using the provided syringe to spray loose food particles out of the holes. Yes, it’s pretty gross and feels weird, but it must be done to help the would heal and close properly and sanitarily. It’s odly kind of satifying to get everything out. 😖 The best way I can describe the feeling of the stitches is to imagine having a single pine needle from a Christmas tree that’s stuck at the back of your mouth.
2 WEEKS AFTER
I was pretty much back to normal eating almost anything. I still avoided chips and hard crunchy items as much as possible, but was able to eat them slowly if necessary. You will still have the holes in your gums where the teeth once were. And yes you will still need to use the syringe to rinse the food out of them.
Here are a few last thoughts and important notes that I feel had a major effect on my quick and easy recovery.
- I did not wash my face or do anything touching my cheeks/jaw for two days in order to avoid making the area more sensitive or aggitated
- Be VERY gentle when brushing your teeth. You do not want to open the wound or make it any worse as it is healing
- Ice as frequently as possible the first 48 hours after surgery. Keep the ice packs on all day long – do not stop
- Do your research on what you need to know before and after wisdom teeth surgery – that is why you’re here right?! 😜 But do not take this information to be medically correct as I am not a doctor
That is everything you need to know before and after wisdom teeth surgery. I hope you found this post to be helpful and informative. Remember this is my personal experience and not all people experience the same results from their surgery. My hope is that this was able to give you insight and comfort about having your wisdom teeth removed. If you want to know what you can eat after your surgery, click here for a full list.
If you have any questions about wisdom teeth surgery, please feel free to leave a comment below. I pray for a quick and easy recovery for your surgery!