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Swollen Up: How Long Does Swelling Last After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Wisdom tooth extraction is usually dreaded as it can be accompanied by bleeding, pain, and swelling. Dentists extract wisdom teeth by making an incision into the gum, removing bone that covers the tooth, and disconnecting the tissue that keeps the tooth in your mouth.

How invasive the surgery is depends on how deeply embedded the tooth is. Sometimes, dentists have to cut the wisdom tooth into smaller parts to dislodge it. More invasive procedures often require stitches that either dissolve on their own, or that will need to be removed after a few days. Recovery time varies, but side effects usually only last a few days. Painkillers are usually prescribed to make those days more manageable, and anti-inflammatory medication is prescribed to manage swelling. There are several things you can do to ease the swelling in just a few days, and below are a few of those options.

Keep Your Mouth Treated and Clean

Initially, place gauze in your mouth and bite down slightly to absorb the blood. Bleeding should only last 24 hours; if it continues, call your surgeon. If the swelling is particularly bad for the first day, place an ice pack on the outside of your jaw and cheeks. In the next days, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater periodically (usually 4 to 5 times per day is recommended) to decrease pain and alleviate swelling. For this, just add 1 teaspoon of salt to a regular glass of warm water.

While it will be tempting to touch the sore areas, keep your fingers and tongue away from the healing wounds. Your hands especially carry germs, and you risk infecting yourself and prolonging the recovery time. Avoid smoking, as cigarettes can also introduce harmful bacteria that will delay recovery and keep the swelling high. However, continue to brush your teeth carefully to maintain regular dental hygiene.

Eat Carefully and Choose Your Food Carefully

Stick to soft foods like pudding, smooth soup, ice cream, and mashed fruits. Add solids back into your diet gradually, staying away from hard or crunchy foods for several days, or even a week if necessary. It is possible that the change in diet will cause you to lose a few pounds, but this is normal. Even if you're eating food that has the texture of a milkshake, avoid using a straw. Sucking can disrupt the clotting and lead to painful problems.

Rest After Surgery and Look After Yourself

Prepare to relax for a few days after your surgery. Try to take some time off work and, in that time, stay in bed. Instead of lying flat, prop your reclined head up on pillows. This could make the bleeding stop sooner as the wounded area is elevated. Avoid any kind of physical exertion; as your heart rate increases, your blood moves faster and you risk increasing the bleeding. Staying still for just a few days will aid your recovery.

Wisdom tooth extraction is never much fun. Prepare to slow down for a few days after the surgery and to experience bleeding and swelling. Follow the tips above to make your healing process smooth and quick. If the pain and swelling persists for several days, give your surgeon a call.

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