Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Following surgery, plan for a couple of days' rest afterwards. You may experience some slight bleeding the first day. For the next several days, your jaw will be considerably swollen and sore. However, the swelling and soreness will decrease each day and your doctor will give you pain medication to make you more comfortable.

Because you won't be able to open your mouth fully for about a week, plan to eat a diet of soft foods. Although most people are able to resume their normal activities within a few days of surgery, it takes about four to six weeks for the wounds to fully heal.

Your doctor will give you specific instructions to follow after surgery. To avoid any complications, it is very important that you adhere to these instructions. If at any time you have questions or concerns, be sure to call our office. Our doctors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As with any surgery, some risks are involved in the surgical removal of wisdom teeth. These include:

  • Dry Socket: One of the most common complications of wisdom teeth removal, dry socket may occur when the newly formed blood clot in the extraction site does not form correctly or is washed away. The blood clot lays the foundation for new tissue and bone to develop.

    Symptoms of dry socket — which typically occur on the third or fourth day following surgery — include a moderate to severe pain radiating to the ear. A foul smell also may develop in your mouth, around your extractions. If you experience these symptoms or any other, it is important that you call your doctor. A dressing will be placed in your dry socket to control the pain.
  • Infection: If an infection occurs, your doctor will drain the infected area and prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Sinus problems: Because the sinus cavities are so close to the upper wisdom teeth, they may be injured during surgery. If this occurs, your doctor will correct the problem and prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Discomfort in nearby teeth: Following surgery, nearby teeth that were injured by the impacted wisdom teeth may begin to hurt.
  • Numbness: Lower impacted wisdom teeth are located close to the sensory nerves in your lower jaw and give you feeling in your lip, chin and tongue. During removal of your wisdom teeth, these nerves may be injured. As a result, you may experience numbness in your lip, chin or tongue. However, this numbness typically goes away within a few weeks. In rare cases, the feeling does not go away and surgery may be needed to correct the problem.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

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