Your Guide to Wisdom Teeth Removal (Part 2)

by Michael Abdoney - 04/28/2024 -jaw surgery,Teeth

What Can You Expect During Surgery?

Extracting your third molars typically takes about an hour. When you arrive at the clinic or doctor’s office, you will receive anesthesia or sedation to prevent discomfort, which may include:

  • a local anesthetic that will numb the tissue surrounding your third molars
  • nitrous oxide, an inhalant that reduces anxiety and discomfort during surgery
  • IV sedation, delivered through a vein in your arm, that quickly induces a state of deep relaxation.

The Extraction Procedure

Surgery involves removing surrounding gum tissue and bone in addition to extracting your third molars. Your surgeon will cut away any tissue that is covering your third molars, loosen and prepare each tooth for removal, then extract them from your tooth sockets. Once the sockets are empty, your surgeon may inject a numbing agent into the wound sites to help control pain, stitch your wounds closed, cover or pack the extraction sites with gauze, and take you to a recovery room to monitor your vital signs.

What Can You Expect After Surgery?

After you regain consciousness, your surgeon will discuss the outcome of your procedure and give you instructions for aftercare. They may also wrap your head in an ice pack and give you additional supplies before they discharge you from care.

As you heal, you’ll need to rest, adjust your diet, and care for your wounds. When you get home, you should take it easy and try to sleep. You will likely be told to avoid exercise and strenuous activity for at least a week. It’s also important to avoid using tobacco, which can constrict blood vessels and interrupt the healing process. If you experience mild to moderate pain or discomfort, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Your doctor may also prescribe pain medication and/or antibiotics to help prevent complications.

Common after-effects of third molar surgery include:

Soreness and Stiffness

It’s common to experience pain after oral surgery, and your jaw may stiffen during the first few days of healing.


After oral surgery, your body’s tissues react by swelling. This is a natural part of the healing process, but in the first 24 hours after surgery, you can apply a cold pack to the sides of your face every half-hour to help your tissues shrink, and continue to use the packs as needed for up to 36 hours. Once this time has passed, switch from cold packs to moist heat compresses.

Mild Bleeding

It’s normal to experience slight bleeding or discharge from your tooth sockets as they heal. To keep your wounds in check, change the gauze pads that cover them every 30 minutes until the bleeding subsides. If bleeding continues, bite down firmly on the gauze for 30 minutes at a time.


If your stomach feels unsettled after surgery, wait an hour before taking anything by mouth, including prescription medication. After this time passes, try slowly sipping ginger tea to calm your stomach. Most nausea will subside within four to six hours.

Oral Hygiene After Surgery

In the first 24 hours after surgery, you should cleanse your mouth with warm salt water as needed, especially after eating. To avoid disturbing the blood clots in your tooth sockets, rinse gently and avoid spitting; let the water flow out of your mouth. After 24 hours, you can use a soft toothbrush to carefully brush your teeth while avoiding contact with the extraction sites.

What Can You Eat and Drink After Wisdom Teeth Removal?

After surgery, it’s important to eat nutritious food that will give your body energy to recover.

Eat Soft, Mild Food

For the first 24 to 48 hours after your extraction, eat soft, mild, and lukewarm or cold food that will be soothing and easy to swallow. Applesauce, mashed bananas, mango, avocado, and potatoes; smooth nut butters; and soft, baked fruits like peaches are good choices. You can also try eating soft-steamed or pureed carrots, green beans, peas, or squash. Yogurt and smoothies can also be nutritious choices, but avoid add-ins like seeds or nuts.

Avoid Tough or Irritating Food

To prevent irritation, you’ll want to avoid chewing your food. Eating hot, acidic, sticky, tough, spicy, seeded, and crunchy foods can cause discomfort and slow down healing. Avoid foods like apples, oranges, and tomatoes; raw carrots; hot peppers; meats; nuts; popcorn; kiwi; and berries.

After you eat, rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water to remove any stuck food.

Once two days have passed, you can try eating chewier foods, but stay away from small, crunchy foods that might irritate or get stuck in your extraction sites. Your mouth is likely to be sensitive for about two weeks, but after this time passes, you should be able to resume your normal diet.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water will hydrate your body and promote healing, but be sure to sip your water from a cup and don’t use a straw for one to two days after surgery. Lukewarm or cool black, green, peppermint, and chamomile teas may help reduce inflammation. Avoid coffee and sugary, acidic, carbonated, and alcoholic beverages for at least 24 hours after surgery.

How Long Does It Take to Heal After Surgery?

After the extraction is complete, many patients resume normal activity and return to work or school in two to three days. It usually takes two to six weeks to heal completely. A week after your surgery, your doctor may call you or arrange a Zoom meeting to check on your progress.

A typical healing timeline looks like this:

  • Day 1: Blood clots form at the extraction sites, and swelling begins.
  • Days 2–3: Swelling peaks.
  • Days 4–7: Discomfort subsides and sutures dissolve.
  • Days 8–10: Soreness and stiffness subside.
  • 2 weeks: Bruising fades.
  • Weeks 3–4: Surgical sites close as tissue heals.

Will You Experience any Side Effects?

After third molar surgery, it’s common to experience minor side effects like cracked or dry lips, sore throat and difficulty swallowing, numbness in your lips, tongue, or chin, low fever, and lightheadedness if you stand up suddenly. These complications usually resolve quickly with proper care. Call your doctor if you experience excessive pain, bleeding, swelling, fever, signs of infection, or other symptoms that persist or worsen.