Teens and young adults may dread the mere mention of wisdom teeth when they visit the dentist due to their notoriety. These third molars typically begin developing in adolescence, and erupt into the mouth between the ages of 17 and 25. Many people have their wisdom teeth extracted before the roots form in order to prevent complications that can be caused by these teeth. Our mouths do not usually have room for these extra teeth, causing crowding or damaging healthy teeth. Wisdom teeth may also lead to complications such as infection, periodontal disease, jaw pain, and cysts or tumors that can damage the jawbone.
The extraction will not have you bed-ridden, and all care needs can be met within the comfort of your own home. As with any type of surgery, there are a number of self-care steps that you should keep in mind in order to keep yourself comfortable and ensure that healing happens properly.
Avoid Straws, Soda, and Hot Beverages
While your gums heal, they are covered by a blood clot that serves as a protective layer to shield nerve endings and the underlying bone. This clot provides a foundation for the development of new tissue as you heal. The premature removal or dissolving of this clot can cause a condition known as dry socket. Without the clot, the nerves are exposed, causing radiating pain from the socket and along the side of the face. Over the counter medications do not usually alleviate this pain, so it is important to avoid doing things that will damage the clot.
Drinking hot beverages is one activity that can cause dry socket. Avoid drinking hot coffees and teas while your mouth heals. Instead, try iced versions of your favorite drinks, but don’t be tempted to use a straw. The pressure created by sucking on a straw may also dislodge the blood clot. Likewise, it is important to avoid drinking soda altogether, straw or no. The carbonation in soda can also cause this painful condition.
Choose Foods Wisely
For the first 24 hours after your extraction, it is important to drink water. As far as foods go during this period, it is best to avoid eating hard foods that could become trapped in the extraction site. Cold foods like yogurt and applesauce provide needed nutrition while offering cooling relief to inflamed and swollen tissue. Patients may also choose to eat ice cream for added relief. For more savory choices, warm (not hot) soup is a good choice.
Over the following few days, you can introduce semi-solid foods to your diet. Pancakes and scrambled eggs would make a better breakfast choice than cereal or chewy bacon. You may also consider cooking up some fish, boiling pasta, mashing potatoes, or preparing a bean burrito. Make sure that all foods have cool-down time before eating them. Eating foods rich in protein and vitamin C is also highly recommended, so try having some hummus for a snack, or drinking fruit smoothies without a straw.
Keeping your mouth clean can help prevent infections. After the first 24 hours, it is safe to rinse gently with warm salt water. Keep in mind that vigorous rinsing may dislodge the blood clot. Brushing your teeth should still happen in the days after your surgery as well, but avoid the healing tissue toward the back of your mouth.
To learn more about wisdom tooth extractions and subsequent care, please call 918-528-3330 to make an appointment today.