Reviewed by Dr. Jason Fluckiger, DMD

Wisdom tooth extraction is a common dental procedure that involves removing one or more of the third molars located at the back of your mouth. While it is a routine surgery, there are some risks involved, including the potential for infection.

At AZ Max Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, we understand that the days following tooth extractions can be challenging. That’s why we’ve put together this expert guide to help you avoid infection and ensure a smooth healing process after your wisdom teeth extraction.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Wisdom teeth extraction requires careful post-surgery care to ensure successful healing and to avoid complications such as dry socket or infection. It’s crucial to adhere to the prescribed pain management plans, maintain oral hygiene, abstain from strenuous activities, and monitor symptoms closely.

Common Concerns: Pain, Swelling, and Bleeding

You will be given post-surgery instructions to follow after surgery. Be sure to read them before your surgery to be prepared for what’s to come. Below is a summary of the instructions. 

Pain Management

It’s natural to experience pain after your oral surgery. Your surgeon will likely prescribe pain medication, but is it very important to make full use of non-opioid pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Your surgeon will discuss the best pain regimen for you. It’s important to stay ahead of the pain by taking medication before it becomes unbearable.


Swelling is a normal response to tooth extractions. To reduce inflammation and discomfort, use ice packs or a bag of frozen peas or corn on the affected area on the day of surgery. Apply ice several times during the day in 20-minute increments for the first 48 hours after surgery. This helps to minimize swelling as much as possible. After 48 hours, it is then helpful to switch to heat which helps your body to clear the swelling that did develop.


It is normal to experience slight bleeding right after your wisdom tooth extraction. To control this, bite down on a gauze pad placed over the surgical site for 30-45 minutes. It is essential that the gauze applies pressure directly to the surgical site and is not merely between the teeth ahead of the surgical site. 

If bleeding persists, replace with a fresh gauze pad or moistened tea bag for 45-60 minutes. DO NOT sleep with a gauze pad or tea bag in your mouth. If you experience excessive bleeding, contact our office.

Maintain Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene is crucial to prevent infection after wisdom tooth extraction, but you should exercise caution in the days following your surgery. In the first 24 hours after surgery, do not rinse, spit, or use a straw, as it could disrupt the healing process.

After the initial 24 hours have passed, start rinsing with warm salt water. Mix ½ teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, then gently swish the solution in your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out. Repeat this process several times a day, especially after meals.

Make sure to keep up with your daily oral hygiene routine, such as brushing and flossing all other teeth, but take care to avoid the surgical site to prevent irritation or dislodging the blood clot from the tooth socket. 

Recognizing and Avoiding Dry Socket

Dry socket is a painful complication that occurs when the blood clot protecting the tooth socket is dislodged or dissolves prematurely. It leaves the underlying bone and nerves exposed, resulting in severe pain and an increased risk of infection.

To avoid dry socket:

  • Do not smoke, vape, or use tobacco products for at least a week after surgery
  • Avoid using straws, as the suction can dislodge the blood clot
  • Eat soft foods and avoid anything hard, crunchy, or sticky
  • If you do develop dry socket, contact your oral surgeon immediately for treatment options

When To Call Our Office

If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your oral surgeon right away:

  • Severe pain that doesn’t improve with medication
  • Persistent bleeding after 24 hours
  • Signs of infection, such as fever or pus at the surgical site
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling that worsens (past postoperative day three) instead of improving

Post-Operation Recovery Expectations

Full recovery from wisdom teeth extraction varies from person to person.  You can likely return to work or school 3-5 days after surgery. If you have a physically strenuous job, you will need to take a few extra days off.

Here are a few things to remember as you recover:

  • Take it easy! Relax and avoid any kind of physical activity for 5-7 days.
  • Complete the entire course of antibiotics prescribed to you.
  • Antibiotics can interfere with birth control. Use an alternate form of birth control while taking antibiotics.
  • Take prescribed medication as directed and do not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking narcotic pain medication.
  • Your diet will be limited in the days following surgery. Eat small meals throughout the day and stay hydrated.
  • Fever right after surgery is normal. If fever persists several days after surgery, contact our office right away.
  • Do not smoke, vape or use any tobacco products for at least 24 hours after surgery. The longer you avoid smoking, the better your chances of avoiding complications.

Your Oral Surgeons in Mesa, AZ

At AZ Max Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, our team of experienced oral surgeons is dedicated to providing high-quality, compassionate care for all your dental needs. If you have any concerns after your wisdom tooth extraction or want to schedule a consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us.

If you are searching for the ‘best wisdom tooth removal near me’, or ‘wisdom teeth extraction near me,’ trust the experts at AZ Max Oral Surgery. If your dentist would like to refer you to our office for wisdom tooth removal, ask them to complete our online patient referral form.

Get to know our surgeons! Read about our experienced surgeons here.  If you would like to be referred to a specific surgeon at our office, please indicate that on the patient referral form.

If you have already been referred to our office, please complete the patient registration form. Information you will be asked to provide includes your referring doctor’s name, your pharmacy name and information and insurance details.

If you are searching for an oral surgeon in Mesa, Queek Creek, Tempe and Show Low, call or text (480) 830-5866 to book an appointment or to inquire about the services we offer. We look forward to helping you with all your oral surgery needs!