Recovery from oral surgery procedures, such as the removal of wisdom teeth, normally takes about four weeks. Noticeable improvement in the first week is expected, although bone can take up to six months to heal completely. Some actions will begin healing sooner and keep recovery on track, while others should be avoided.
Begin Before Surgery
Take vitamin C with bioflavanoids 1,000 mg twice a day for a few days before the procedure to prepare gum tissue for rapid healing. Gather supplies such as homeopathic arnica, over-the-counter pain medications (not aspirin, which can increase bleeding), and have black teabags and 2-by-2 gauze squares (in case your dentist doesn’t give you enough) on hand. Cut down on smoking and alcohol use, both of which delay healing and are not permitted for a few days following oral surgery.
The Day of Surgery
Apply ice packs at 15-minute intervals throughout the first day, to prevent swelling. Take the homeopathic remedy arnica to treat trauma and bruising. Homeopathic tablets should not be touched by the fingers and should be allowed to dissolve under the tongue. Arnica cream can be applied externally.
Rest, and take pain killers early. More medication is required to stop intense pain than to prevent it in the first place. Do not rinse the area for 24 hours. A blood clot must form at the surgery site; do not do anything that might disturb or dislodge it. Do not spit or blow the nose, suck on a straw or smoke during the first few days. Don’t probe the area with the tongue or fingers. Elevate the head of the bed or use several pillows when lying down. Avoid bending over and do not exercise for at least 24 hours.
Blood mixed with saliva looks worse than it is. Moisten and fold the 2-by-2 gauze, cover the surgical site, and bite down to apply pressure and stop bleeding. The tannic acid in tea constricts blood vessels, so biting on a teabag helps stop bleeding. Don’t change gauze too frequently, and don’t let up on pressure too soon. Hold for 20 to 30 minutes at least. If bleeding has not slowed after two hours, contact a dentist.
After the first 24 hours, rinse with a saltwater solution (1 tsp. salt with 6 to 8 oz. of warm water) every six hours to reduce pain and harmful bacteria.
Take antibiotic medication exactly as prescribed and finish it.
Apply moist heat externally to reduce swelling after the second day. The worst swelling usually occurs on the third day.
Gently stretch the mouth open to relieve stiffness. Stick to a diet of soft foods such as mashed potatoes, yogurt, pudding, custard, scrambled eggs, mashed ripe banana, avocado, and applesauce until chewing is easier. Avoid strong spices and extreme temperatures.
Pain that gets worse or is not improving may be a sign of improper clot formation (dry socket) or infection. In dry socket, exposed nerve and bone fragments can be painful. The dentist can pack the site with medicated gauze to relieve pain.