If you’re someone who gets freaked out going to the dentist for your annual cleaning, then the thought of getting your wisdom teeth removed might have you shook. There’s a lot of hype surrounding wisdom teeth removal, mostly because it can be a pain — literally and figuratively.
Wisdom teeth removal is often “a little bit more of a production than just taking out a tooth,” by nature of where they’re located, according to Alan Felsenfeld, MA, DDS, FACD, professor of clinical dentistry at UCLA School of Dentistry. Wisdom teeth are in the way back corners of your mouth, and sometimes they can be “impacted,” meaning they’re stuck under bone and tissue that has to be drilled and removed, he says. “It takes longer, and you are doing a more aggressive surgery to remove them,” Dr. Felsenfeld says.
But despite much of the lore associated with the procedure, most people are better within three to four days after the surgery, although some may end up with more swelling and pain than others, Dr. Felsenfeld says. It’s important to talk to your surgeon beforehand to make sure you understand your post-op treatment plan, and exactly what you’re supposed to do to help speed the healing process along, he says.
According to Dr. Felsenfeld, the best thing you can do is use ice to reduce swelling and numb some of the pain. And you should maintain good mouth hygiene throughout, because a lot of food and debris can accumulate in your mouth and slow the healing process — which you do not want to do. “If the healing goes smoothly, the chances of [your teeth] having a lot of trouble are diminished,” he says.
Luckily, there are ways you can get creative with your icing techniques and soft-food diet while you wait for your mouth to heal. We asked people in the R29 community how they survived wisdom teeth removal, and ahead are their tips and tricks for making it a little less miserable. But remember, first and foremost, to listen to your doctor’s orders — that’s always the wisest thing to do.