Wisdom Tooth Removal: Aftercare Tips & Tricks

Wondering what to do after your wisdom teeth removal procedure to help yourself heal and avoid complications? Our Edmonton dentists share some tips in this post to avoid complications or dental emergencies. 

Wisdom Teeth Removal & Recovery

Generally, teens develop wisdom teeth in their late teens or early twenties (usually sometime between the ages of 17 and 25).

While our ancestors needed wisdom teeth to consume their diets, this is not true today. 

Human jaws have also shrunk over time, which may lead to crowding, compression or blockage of the wisdom teeth by surrounding teeth. Another potential complication is wisdom teeth not forming completely, which may lead to food debris building up in the gum tissues and causing bacteria growth and infection. 

Permanent teeth may be dislocated and in rare cases, a cyst may form in the soft tissues close to a molar. This may cause jaw expansion or damage to the surrounding bone or teeth. 

All this to say, it's common for wisdom teeth to not align well and require removal. Sometimes wisdom teeth can even cause severe pain and complications for oral health, including dental emergencies.

That's when extraction becomes necessary. There are certain things our Edmonton dentists recommend doing after wisdom tooth removal to help the recovery process, and we'll share those tips today, along with what to expect, potential complications and more.

What to Do After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Having your wisdom teeth removed can be an unnerving prospect, but it doesn't need to inspire fear or be painful. 

Here are some do's and don'ts and wisdom teeth removal recovery tips to keep in mind after you have your wisdom teeth removed to encourage faster healing, and avoid complications or dental emergencies. 


1. Bite a gauze pad.

Soon after the extraction, your dentist's first priority will be to stop any excess bleeding from the extraction site. You may be asked to bite down on a gauze pad. Doing this will help blood clots develop in the gums faster. Blood clots play a vital role in recovery from surgery, preventing infection occurring in the exposed bone or wound. 

It's important to bite down gently to keep the wound from reopening. You may also need to bite down on the pad for about five minutes until the bleeding stops. 

2. Rest and elevate your head.

While you'll need to relax for the next couple of days, this doesn't mean you'll be completely bedridden.

However, you will need to take it easy and not do any strenuous activity while the extraction site begins to heal. Elevating your head can reduce the amount of swelling you might experience. 

3. Apply an ice pack. 

For the first 24 to 48 hours after extraction, we recommend using an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling. Use the ice pack for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off for 1 to 2 hour time periods. 

4. Keep the extraction site clean.  

Follow your dentist's instructions on when to brush your teeth for the first time after your wisdom tooth extraction. When brushing the area closest to the extraction site, be very gentle. This will help to prevent the blood clot from becoming dislodged. 

The day after surgery, you may start rinsing your mouth with warm salt water (not commercial rinses, which can be too strong at this point in your recovery). Due this at least five times a day, especially after every meal to keep food debris and bacteria from becoming stuck near the surgical site or in the wound. 

5. Eat soft foods. 

While a nutritious diet is important to our health all the time, it's even more essential to our recovery after having wisdom teeth removed. Eating meals packed with nutrients can ease swelling, encourage wound healing and reduce risk of complications. 

Stick to soft foods that you can easily chew, including mashed vegetables, Jell-O, avocados, soups and broths. 

6. Take medicines as prescribed. 

Your dentist may prescribe pain medication. Take all doses as prescribed so pain doesn't get out of control. 


1. Avoid using straws, smoking, spitting, sucking or drinking alcohol. 

As the blood clot forms over the extraction region, avoiding doing the above will prevent the blood clot from being dislodged, which can cause more pain and bleeding. Another potential side effect is dry socket. 

2. Don't eat solid foods. 

Avoid munching on potato chips, popcorn, crunchy or hard foods for at least a week. Stay away from carbonated or hot drinks, sodas, spicy foods, etc. We recommend only eating solid foods after 4 to 5 hours following extraction. 

3. Don't take aspirin. 

Since aspirin is a blood thinner, it will delay clot formation. 

4. Don't poke the gap left by your extracted wisdom teeth. 

Avoid using your tongue, finger, toothpick or tissue to explore or poke the gap as this can delay healing, provoke bleeding and lead to dry socket. 

5. Don't rinse your mouth too strenuously. 

Pressure from rinsing strenuously may dislodge the blood clot and lead to complications, so it's important to rinse gently. 

What to Expect After Wisdom Tooth Extraction 

Your dentist may need to make an incision in your gums to allow the roots of the tooth to be effectively extracted. 

While wisdom tooth removal is a minimally invasive process, it is still surgery and may cause some pain and swelling. Here are some aspects of tooth extraction you may experience. 

Nausea Due to Local Anesthesia 

While an allergy to local anesthesia is extremely rare, it may still trigger side effects such as nausea and vomiting. Your mouth may also continue to feel numb a few hours following surgery. 

That's why our Edmonton dentists recommend bringing someone with you to your procedure for assistance and support, in case the anesthesia causes you to feel dizzy. 

Potential Pain & Swelling in the Gums 

You may start to feel some pain and swelling in your gums and cheeks once the effects of the anesthesia begin to wear off. Again, don't worry, since this is a normal part of the recovery process. Pain and inflammation should subside within a few days. 

Bleeding from the Extraction Site 

Right after the procedure, you may find the gums where your wisdom teeth used to be are bleeding. This should only last for the first few hours. Blood clots typically form within the first 24 hours after surgery. 

How many days should you rest after wisdom teeth removal?

It's usually recommended that you take one or two days off work after having wisdom teeth removed. While we recommend keeping your head elevated all day the first day, you should be able to do mild activity on the second day and perform the activities you feel able to on days three and four. 

How long does it take for wisdom teeth to heal with stitches?

Your dentist will typically use dissolvable stitches to close the wisdom tooth extraction hole. These stitches generally take between 7 and 10 days to fall out, but may take longer in some instances. 

Do not attempt to pull the stitches out on your own unless your dentist has approved. If you notice any signs of infection, contact us immediately. 

What helps wisdom teeth holes heal faster?

Taking the right precautions after wisdom teeth removal can help your mouth heal faster.

This means getting plenty of rest, keeping your head elevated and taking any pain medication your dentist has prescribed as directed. For the first five nights, keep your head elevated while you sleep, and avoid laying on yoru side, as this can lead to more swelling on the side of your face that's against the pillow. Also, remove gauze from the site before you sleep. 

Wisdom Teeth Pain & Removal at Emergency Dental Clinics

Crowding, impaction or infection can cause wisdom teeth to become painful, necessitating emergency care. At our Edmonton dental office, we can treat your wisdom tooth pain and its underlying causes. 

Are you experiencing severe wisdom tooth pain? Contact our Edmonton dentists right away. We can examine your teeth and recommend treatment options.

Have a dental emergency in Edmonton? We're here on weekends and after hours to help.

Dental emergencies always happen when you least expect them. Our friendly and experienced dental team is on call to assist you when you need us most.

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Request Appointment (780) 483-7079