Wisdom Teeth Removal: How to Prep and Recovery Tips

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Wisdom tooth removal can seem daunting, but it can be a fast and easy recovery with some tips. Find out how to prepare and how to ease pain.

Brayden before getting wisdom teeth removed

Getting your wisdom teeth removed is a simple same-day surgery. While it is a relatively simple procedure and you will recover quickly, there are still things you want to know and plan for ahead of time and many things you can do to make your recovery faster.

Brayden, my oldest child, recently had his wisdom teeth removed. I wanted to be sure to have a post on hand to refer to when my girls get their wisdom teeth extracted someday.

Why Get Wisdom Teeth Removed

While it is pretty standard to get your wisdom teeth removed in the United States, it is not that way in every country in the world.

Ultimately you will want to consult with your child’s dentist to know if it is something that will need to be done or not. Common reasons for wisdom tooth extraction are:

  • Tooth crowding
  • Cavities
  • Disease
  • Infection

Your child’s dentist might recommend removal to simply avoid one of the four above issues, or you might be facing one of the above four issues.

Brayden has had braces, and as his wisdom teeth were growing in, they were starting to push his teeth. That was thousands of dollars that could go down the drain, so removing wisdom teeth was a good plan.

What Age Should You Remove Wisdom Teeth

Most people get wisdom teeth removed between age 18 and early 20s.

The best age for your individual child will of course depend on your child’s tooth growth. Just as babies get their teeth in at different ages and lose teeth at different ages, they get wisdom teeth at different ages.

Most people get their wisdom teeth between ages 17-25.

Brayden was only 16 when his wisdom teeth were removed. He had only been 16 for two months, so he was a young 16. His friends who are older than he is still have not had them removed.

Brayden’s wisdom teeth were coming in and erupting, however, so it was time.

I personally had mine removed at age 22.

Who Should Do the Wisdom Teeth Extraction

Some dentists do wisdom tooth extraction (my dentist did mine). Others do not and will refer you to an oral surgeon.

Even if your dentist does do extractions, you can consult with an oral surgeon.

My children go to a pediatric dentist and he does not do extractions, so he referred us to an oral surgeon.

How to Prepare Before Surgery

You might need to go visit the oral surgeon for a consultation before your appointment. We did not need a consultation appointment; our dentist sent all necessary information to the surgeon. I simply chatted with them over the phone.

Here are some things to be sure you prep before the surgery:

Schedule Appointment

When you schedule your appointment, be aware that your child will need a few days after the surgery with no commitments. Your child will need to rest.

Your child will need a caregiver to help him for the first 24 hours pretty solid. The next 24 hours are quite solid. So make sure a parent is available for 2-3 days post-op.

Your child will also likely need to fast going into the appointment, so consider that in your timing. Brayden had an early morning appointment so fasting wasn’t so hard for him.

Shopping

There are some things you will need from the store. You will want to purchase all of your food ahead of time. You will also want to get ice packs and heat packs (or a heating pad).

I had these ice packs already for my feet and they were PERFECT. They can be ice packs or hot packs, so we used them as ice the first day and as heat the second day.

We did need more than the four that come with this. We used other ice packs as well as these because the packs couldn’t re-freeze fast enough with the 4. 7 was a good number. You can also use frozen vegetable bags.

Ice packs

I would recommend getting some gauze (Brayden’s doctor sent him home with a bunch, but I had to tap into our first aid kit to use more).

Make sure you have pain medication at home if you need it after surgery.

You might want some things to do at home during recovery, also. You will want things for the patient and the caregiver.

Last Meal

The night before, have something substantial as the last meal for a few days. Maybe eat some crunchy food or spicey food.

What To Expect That Day

The exact procedure will vary from office to office.

For us, we got to the office and filled out our paperwork.

Brayden had an x-ray and we then chatted with the surgeon about what would be done and how long it would take.

They took him back to the procedure room and I went to the waiting room.

He took only 20 minutes. It typically takes less than an hour. They then took me to the recovery room where he was.

We have all seen the funny videos of people coming out of anesthesia. Brayden was not funny. He was determined to not be funny and he met his goal.

The doctor commented that his metabolism is super fast and he went through the medication quickly.

He seemed very cognizant and asked a lot of questions about his recovery. He insisted upon standing, which made me nervous.

While he seemed with it, he had amnesia for at least an hour afterward, maybe two. He and I repeatedly had the same conversation over and over again.

He walked out to the car on his own (with an assistant and myself right there).

I personally hardly remember getting my wisdom teeth removed at all. I don’t remember getting to the car and don’t remember the next 24 hours. I slept hard.

Brayden was determined to stay awake, and he did that. We had to stop to pick up McKenna from soccer practice on the way home (I was afraid he would get out of the car since he wasn’t fully with it despite seeming like he was–I was glad I didn’t plan to get his food after the visit as many parents do).

We also stopped by the pharmacy to get his medications and mouth wash.

We then went home. Brayden tried to drink some water but he was quite numb. He was pretty numb all day and made for messy drinking.

I spent the whole day changing out his gauze and his ice. He bled for about 10 hours. I think that was longer than is typical for most people.

It is important to note some nausea can be normal with sedation, laughing gas, or pain medications. Brayden didn’t have this, but if your child does, eating small amounts of food and drinking clear liquid helps.

Healing Tips

There are many things you can do to help speed along the healing process.

One is to plan to do nothing for a few days. The advice I got was to not allow him to do anything the first two days. Many people feel pretty good on the second day, then do stuff and feel awful after that.

If you rest that second day, even if you feel awesome, you can really help your healing process to be faster.

Your child might need to rest longer, but insist upon the first two days. The body needs time to heal.

Another important tip is do not use a straw. This was impressed upon me several times. Using a straw can dislodge the blot clots the body creates, and that leads to a dry socket. No straw use for 3 days and no spitting.

You also should not smoke or drink for at least 48 hours.

You will need to change your gauze pad every 30-45 minutes until the bleeding is stopped. It is good to bite down on it so you can help speed up the blood clottting process.

Use ice packs for the first 24 hours. You will put an ice pack on for 20 minutes, then off for 20 minutes, on for 20 minutes, etc. This is to prevent swelling.

This kept me BUSY! Between bringing fresh ice packs, rotating the used ice packs in the freezer, and changing out gauze, I didn’t have a lot of down time.

After the first 24 hours, you want to do heat applications. You can use a heating pad, rice bag, etc. This is again 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. This really helps with soothing the pain, decreasing swelling, and decreasing stiffness. This didn’t keep me as busy because the heat can be reused over and over again.

Brayden’s doctor prescribed a mouth rinse to be used several times a day, especially after eating. This really helps prevent infection because it will keep your mouth clean. If you don’t have a prescribed rinse, do not use one you have at home. Use a saltwater rinse (1/4 tsp salt mixed in 6 ounces of water).

Elevating the head can be good–as with any injury.

You can also slowly open and close the mouth to prevent stiffness–just don’t overdo it.

How to Help with Pain

Many of the ways to help with healing also help with pain and help prevent pain. It is good to take this before the anesthesia wears off.

You will also want to take a painkiller. You can take ibuprofen and also acetaminophen. Your doctor might prescribe something stronger. Brayden’s did, but he declined.

Even if you feel good, it is important to take the basic painkillers for at least 48 hours to prevent or reduce swelling.

You also want to do the ice for the first 24 hours, heat for the next 24 hours, and use a mouth rinse. One note, when using the rise, do not spit it out. Let it dribble out. Spitting can open up blood clots.

You also want to rest for the first couple of days at least. Avoid talking excessively. You will also want to eat foods that will not hurt your surgical sites.

What to Eat After Getting Wisdom Teeth Removed

The body needs nutrients to heal, so you want to make sure you get some nourishing food in there (along with the ice cream of course!).

You are thinking soft foods or liquid foods. Avoid sharp foods, chips, popcorn, seeds, nuts, etc. You also need to avoid hot food (as in temperature) and spicy food. Avoid solid foods.

Think of it as what you fed your baby before he had teeth. Some good foods include:

  • Yogurt (I bought all sorts of flavors. Make sure you have some without fruit chunks for the first 24 hours. After that, fruit chunks can work).
  • Applesauce (you can also puree many types of fruits into a sauce consistentcy–remember baby food!)
  • Avocado smashed up
  • Smoothies
  • Juice
  • Jello
  • Ice cream
  • Broth
  • Soup
  • Soft pasta

And remember, no straws! You want to avoid a dry socket.

Tips for Mom

My number one tip for you is to clear your calendar!

Like I said, I don’t remember much of my experience getting my wisdom teeth removed. I figured it wouldn’t be too big of a deal.

I had the president of a presidency I am in ask me if I could do a meeting the day of the surgery. I told her Brayden was getting his wisdom teeth out that morning but I should be good by 1 PM.

She is retired now but worked in a dental office where the dentist did wisdom tooth extractions. She told me I wouldn’t be able to do a meeting. She said Brayden would need me all day.

And she was right! As I said, I was busy with the ice and gauze. Then you add in needing food and drinks. I got at most 15 minute breaks, often 10 minute breaks, before starting all over again.

You will not be as needed the second day, but I would recommend you make yourself totally free and available for the first two days, planning on accomplishing nothing the first day. Get a good book, cue up some shows to binge, and get ready to be on call for the 1-2 days.

Conclusion

You can have a really a fast recovery after wisdom teeth removal surgery. If you follow the tips and advice for healing and pain management, your child will heal quickly and be up and going within a few days.

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