Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are located at the back of the mouth and typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. While some people have enough room for their wisdom teeth to grow in without issue, many others experience pain, infection, and other problems that require wisdom tooth removal.
If you're one of the many people who need wisdom teeth removal, you may be wondering how long it will take to recover. Most people find the pain and swelling from wisdom teeth surgery subsides within 3–5 days, but it can take up to 2 weeks to fully recover.
Wisdom Tooth Removal Recovery Time
The average recovery time for wisdom tooth extraction is typically only a few days before most people start feeling better. Although, some people may experience discomfort for longer periods because we all recover a little differently.
It’s important to follow your dentist’s specific instructions for recovery because we can provide advice based on our first-hand knowledge of your particular needs and personal health.
What Happens After Your Wisdom Teeth Are Removed?
Wisdom teeth removal is typically a relatively quick procedure. All 4 teeth can usually be removed within an hour, but recovering after the procedure is over is an equally important part of the process.
Pain management is an important part of recovery after wisdom tooth extraction. Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve discomfort caused by inflammation and the procedure itself.
Your dentist may also prescribe stronger pain relievers in some cases. It’s important to follow your dentist’s or pharmacist's instructions with prescription painkillers, as they are typically much stronger than OTC medications and may require specific dosages.
Additionally, applying a cold compress to the affected area can help reduce pain and swelling.
What you eat and drink after surgery can affect your recovery. Stick to soft foods like soup, mashed potatoes, and yogurt for the first few days. Avoid hot and spicy foods, as well as crunchy or chewy foods that could irritate the surgical area. Drink plenty of water, but avoid using a straw for at least a day, as suction can dislodge the blood clots in your mouth.
There are a few foods and habits you should avoid for at least 24 hours following the extraction, as they can lead to complications or prolong the healing process, including:
- Caffeinated beverages
- Hot drinks
- Tobacco use—including smoking and vaping
- Rinsing your mouth and spitting
Keeping your mouth clean is essential for proper healing after wisdom tooth removal. Brush your teeth gently and avoid the surgical area for the first few days. You can also rinse your mouth with warm salt water to promote healing.
Be sure to follow your dentist's instructions for post-operative care. We can recommend a modified oral hygiene routine for a few days to allow your mouth to begin healing.
Finally, it's important to attend any follow-up visits with your dentist. These appointments allow us to monitor your healing progress and confirm everything is going according to plan. During these visits, we may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent or fight an infection if pain, bleeding, or swelling has not decreased.
Always follow your dentist's post-operative instructions carefully to avoid complications such as dry sockets, which can prolong your recovery time.
How Long Does It Take to Fully Recover from Wisdom Tooth Surgery?
Many people experience relief from their discomfort within 3–5 days, but it can take up to 2 weeks to fully recover from the procedure if there are any complications during the surgery or during recovery.
You should ultimately refer to your dentist on when you can return to normal activity, especially a physical job or high-intensity sports. But a few signs your recovery is going well may include:
- A continued decrease in swelling, bruising, or pain in your mouth and cheeks
- Jaw mobility (being able to open and close it comfortably) returning to normal
- No more tingling, bleeding, or bad taste left in your mouth
Talk with Your Dentist About Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Recovering from wisdom teeth extraction is a process that requires patience and careful attention to your dental health. If you notice symptoms worsening or not improving after the 3rd or 4th day, you should reach out to your dentist so they can examine your mouth.
If you haven’t had your wisdom teeth out yet and you’re simply looking ahead to see what to expect, don’t let the things you read today discourage you. Wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure, and we can provide you with relevant, personalized information surrounding any potential risks versus the potential benefits of having the surgery.