Patient Instructions: After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom tooth removal is a very common surgical procedure to relieve pain and discomfort or prevent problems caused by impacted wisdom teeth. While the recovery period after wisdom tooth removal varies from person to person, there are some general things you can do after your surgery to care for your mouth and promote healing.

Post-Operative Care Tips:

  • Take it easy, rest and let your body recover.
  • Take any prescribed pain medications as directed by your oral surgeon.
  • Avoid eating hard foods that could potentially irritate the surgical sites in your mouth.
  • Use ice packs to reduce the swelling.
  • Refrain from vigorous physical activity for 5-7 days.
  • Eat something soft/liquid after surgery before starting your prescribed medications.
  • Do not irritate the surgical site for the first 7 days by touching it or using a toothbrush in the extraction site. 
  • Do not start mouth rinses until the day following surgery.
  • No straws following surgery for 24 hours.


You may have some slight bleeding after surgery. It is common to have blood-tinged saliva after surgery. This is normal and will usually resolve within 24 hours after surgery. To help control the bleeding, bite on a gauze pad for 30-45 minutes immediately after surgery. If bleeding continues, you can bite down on additional gauze or a moistened tea bag for 45-60 minutes. Be sure the gauze is directly over the extraction site. Do not change the gauze out too frequently because that will disrupt the clot and persist the bleeding. Do not go to sleep with a gauze or teabag in your mouth. If you experience excessive bleeding, contact your oral surgeon or proceed to the emergency room.


You may experience some swelling after surgery. This is normal and will usually peak after two to three days. To help reduce swelling, apply ice packs or bags of frozen peas or corn to your face for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day for the first 48hrs. To prevent skin burn, always wrap your ice pack or bag of ice in a thin towel, and never apply directly to the skin without a barrier. After 72 hours, you can switch to using a warm compress if you find it more soothing.


After the patient is asleep, we use local anesthesia to numb the surgical site(s) for your comfort when you wake up. The numbness can last for 4 to 12 hours. Be careful when eating as you may bite your tongue or lip and cause damage.


Bruising after a wisdom tooth removal procedure is a normal reaction to surgery and will usually subside within 5-7 days after surgery. However, if you experience significant swelling or bruising that continues, please contact our office as this may indicate an infection.

IV Site Irritation

After surgery you may have some redness or swelling at the IV site that may last up to 4 days. If it lasts longer than 4 days please consult with your surgeon.

Sinus Opening

You may have an opening if you feel water or liquid go into your sinus or if you feel air escaping from an upper extraction site. Call us the next day to see your surgeon so he can provide you with instructions to aid in the healing of your sinus opening. Do not swim or blow your nose until your surgeon has approved these activities.

Pain Medications

While your dentist or oral surgeon may prescribe pain medication after surgery, you can also take over-the-counter pain medication,if you have no allergies or medical contraindications, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) to help manage any discomfort after the procedure. It is important that you take the prescribed medications as directed and DO NOT drive or operate heavy machinery while taking them.


Your dentist or oral surgeon may prescribe you antibiotics to prevent infection. It is important that you take the antibiotics as prescribed and for the duration indicated. Keep in mind that antibiotics can decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives; speak with your oral surgeon or primary care doctor about the risks involved. Do not wake up to take antibiotics, they are meant to be taken when awake. (Note: Antibiotics may render birth control ineffective during the menstrual cycle in which they are taken)


Sutures are used to minimize post-operative bleeding and to help healing. Depending on the procedure you had, your oral surgeon may use sutures after surgery to help close any wounds in your mouth. Sutures should dissolve after a few weeks, but if they don’t, you will need to visit your oral surgeon for removal. The extraction sites may take up to 4-6 weeks to close completely. (Note: DO NOT try and pull out sutures or cut them off yourself.)

Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene after your surgery is essential to the healing process and prevention of infection. After the first day, you may gently brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush after each meal, avoiding the surgical sites as much as possible. Do not spit or rinse your mouth vigorously. Salt water rinses after each meal can help reduce inflammation and keep your mouth clean after surgery.

  • Simply mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt into 1 cup of warm water.
  • Rinsing five times a day or after meals will help flush away food particles from the surgical site.
  • On day 5 you may start using the irrigation syringe given to you to gently rinse out the extraction site.
  • If you have a retainer you may wear it if it causes no pain. It may take up to 5 days until you can wear it comfortably.

Food and Drink

In the days after surgery, you should avoid eating solid food or chewy foods that could potentially irritate the surgical sites. Try to stick to soft foods for at least the first 2-3 days after your surgery. Eating regularly is important to maintain your strength and energy levels, so make sure to eat small meals often. If your food consumption is limited for the first few days, make sure you stay hydrated. DO NOT eat popcorn, seeds, nuts, or very chewy or crunchy foods for a minimum of 2 weeks after surgery.

Soft food options after surgery:

  • Yogurt
  • Pudding
  • Smoothies
  • Soup Broth
  • Applesauce
  • Milk Shakes

Bowel Irregularities

After surgery it is possible to experience constipation or diarrhea when taking narcotics or antibiotics. If you experience constipation, drink more fluids and stop taking the narcotics. If you develop diarrhea, stop antibiotics and consult with your surgeon.

Dry Socket

Dry socket is a condition that can occur after the removal of wisdom teeth. It happens when the blood clot that forms in the socket after surgery becomes dislodged, exposing the bone and nerve endings. Usually dry sockets occur 4-5 days after surgery.

Symptoms of dry socket include:

  • pain (often described as throbbing and radiating)
  • bad breath
  • an unpleasant taste in your mouth

If you think you may be developing dry socket, please contact us. (Note: DO NOT drink from a straw for a minimum of 24 hours as this may dislodge the clot and cause dry socket.)

No Smoking

Smoking after wisdom tooth removal can delay healing and increase your risk of infection and dry socket. It is best to avoid smoking for at least 24 hours after your procedure as this will reduce the chances of developing dry socket.


On the day of your surgery you should not do any physical activity. Rest and keep head and shoulders above the level of your heart. You should avoid strenuous activity for 5-7 days after your procedure to reduce the risk of bleeding and complications. Walking is okay, but try to avoid any physically demanding activities.

Going Back to Work

You will likely be able to return to work 3-5 days after your surgery, as long as you don’t have a physically strenuous job. If your job requires physical labor, you may need to take a few more days off to recover. You should be able to return to normal activity a week after surgery.

Keep In Mind

  • The trigeminal nerve is responsible for sensation in your face and mouth, including the area around your wisdom teeth. In some cases, this nerve may become irritated or damaged from the extraction. If you experience any numbness after surgery, please contact our office.
  • Fever immediately after wisdom tooth removal is not unusual. However, after several days a persistent fever could indicate an infection. If you experience a fever several days after surgery, contact our office as soon as possible.
  • After surgery, your jaw may feel stiff or slightly sore. This condition is called trismus, and it is common after wisdom tooth removal and will typically resolve after one to two weeks.

You may notice a small cavity where your tooth was removed. This is simply the hole or socket left after the tooth has been extracted and will eventually fill in with new tissue.

A Final Word

In most cases, wisdom tooth removal is a relatively straightforward procedure with a quick recovery. However, as with any surgery, there are always risks and complications. After your wisdom teeth have been removed, it is important to follow these postoperative instructions carefully. This will help hopefully ensure a quick and complication-free recovery. 

If you have any questions or concerns after your surgery, contact AZ Oral Surgery at (480) 830-5866.

Dr. Bradley Porter Oral Surgeon smiling