Wisdom teeth removal surgery is one of the most common myofascial/facial surgeries in the world. 

In fact, about 80% of wisdom teeth need removing to prevent impaction, infection, or even in-mouth cysts. 

If it’s your turn to get these vestigial structures out, you’re likely wondering what to expect. We’re going over these teeth and what to know for after wisdom teeth removal surgery below.

What are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are your third set of molars that start to erupt in your teenage years. They’re vestigial structures, meaning they were necessary at certain stages of human evolution but are useless now.

Way back when, humans used to eat very rough, raw plant material. That wore down our teeth over time. Our wisdom teeth came in at 17-20 years old, which was middle-age for that time. These third molars gave us a boost to chewing hard materials, improving the lifespan.

But we don’t eat hard-to-chew vegetation anymore. Most of us barely get enough vegetables as it is! And so, our teeth don’t erode (as much) over time, which leaves no room for these third molars to grow in.

With no room to grow, our wisdom teeth can impact existing teeth, causing crowding and even lead to infections. So, in most cases, it’s safest to remove them.

Your dentist will let you know when it’s best to get them out, based on your age, your mouth size, and your individual development—just one more reason to stay up-to-date on your twice-yearly dental checkups.

Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery: What’s It Like?

On the day of your surgery, you’ll be instructed not to eat anything, brush your teeth, and wear comfy clothing. Due to the anesthesia, you’ll need a ride home from the surgery (which can be done in most dental offices).

Your surgeon will explain the procedure to you, do some last-minute checks, then give you an IV with the anesthesia. The nurse will have you count backward from ten, and you’ll be asleep before you hit one.

When you wake up, expect to be disoriented and swollen. This is normal! Your doctor will give your pick-up person your instructions, gauze, and a prescription for painkillers if you haven’t picked them up already.

Then you’ll go home and get into bed, where you’ll begin your two-three day recovery.

The First Day After Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery

When you leave the office, the surgeon will have to put gauze packs in your mouth to stop some of the post-op bleedings. You want to keep biting down on these (as best you can) for the first hour. After an hour, you can take the gauze out and replace it with more if bleeding persists.

Some people continue to bleed throughout the first day, which is normal. You can replace the gauze every thirty to forty-five minutes as needed. Be sure to have whoever is helping you wash their hands before and after they help you change the gauze.

When the numbing effect from surgery wears off, you may be in a bit of pain. Your caregiver can give you pain medication based on the post-operative care instructions the surgeon gave you to take home.

Swelling, bleeding, nausea, and pain are all common first-day symptoms. Most people report that these get significantly better on the second or third day, especially as you get used to your pain management routine.

If you feel your pain is excessive or that you’re bleeding more than your surgeon told you to expect after your wisdom teeth removal procedure, call the office and let us know. We’re here for you and want you to have the best recovery possible!

When you start to feel hungry, stick to soft foods. Many people enjoy yogurt, smoothies, soup, or other soft and easy-to-swallow foods. Do not, under any circumstances, use a straw for any food or drinks. The suction from using the straw can cause scab loosening or displacement.

What to Expect on Day Two of Wisdom Teeth Removal Aftercare

Most people report that the second day is much more comfortable than the first, and if you don’t wake up feeling better, hold out for day three.

When you leave the clinic, your doctor will give you materials to rinse the surgical site with. Rinsing helps prevent bacterial buildup and improves wound healing. Follow the directions given carefully and don’t swish or spit the liquid. Instead, lean over the sink and let it flow out of your mouth.

Following your post-op directions exactly will help prevent healing problems, like dry-socket.

As your pain lessens, work on reducing your usage of pain medications. While the medicines your doctor gave you are safe to use for surgical recovery, they can be habit-forming and have side effects when used over time. Hot and cold compresses are great options for non-pharmaceutical pain relief.

You may feel more comfortable eating soft foods on day two, but you can begin to get back to your regular diet in the following days.

Day Three

If you didn’t feel better on day two, you should wake up on day three and feel significantly better. However, “should” is objective: bodies heal at their own pace.

It’s safe to return to your normal diet on day three, as long as you avoid things like nuts, popcorn, and hard candy, which can get stuck in your wound. You can also return to your normal oral health regimen, taking care to avoid brushing or flossing over the surgery site.

Continue your rinsing regimen and call the clinic if anything feels off. If something’s worrying you, we want to know. We’re here for you!

Healing from Your Wisdom Teeth Removal

Things should start returning to normal after day three. Many people can switch to over-the-counter pain killers if they haven’t already, as the pain and swelling go down.

You’ll have a post-op checkup within the first week of surgery, where your surgeon will make sure you’re healing well.

We hope this guide on what to expect after a wisdom teeth removal procedure sets your nerves at ease. We’ve been in practice since 2006 and love serving patients at both of our Kentucky locations.

For more resources, including surgical instruction, check out our website and our services list here.