tooth first aid

QUESTION: About two weeks ago, I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed. I am occasionally feeling discomfort where the teeth were extracted. Is this normal? How long will the discomfort last? What can I do to make my gums feel better?

ANSWER: When you have your wisdom teeth removed, you are going to deal with pain and discomfort. The length of time that this discomfort extends will depend on your body, how quickly you heal, and the extent of work that needed to be done to remove the teeth. For example, if any of your wisdom teeth were impacted, then this will mean a longer recovery time. Here are some of the things to expect after the surgery and how long they should last.

Bleeding: Your gums will bleed, but the bleeding should stop within 24 hours after the surgery. If you keep gauze pads in place and you follow recovery instructions, then bleeding should stop rather quickly.

Swelling: Swelling can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. That’s because the tissue around the extraction site will be irritated. This will especially be true if you did have an impacted wisdom tooth that needed to be removed, which creates more trauma to the extraction site.

Pain: Severe pain should not last longer than a couple of days. However, there are cases when the extraction site can become more irritated. For example, if food and bacteria get into the flap of gums, then you may deal with pain from irritation.

Dry Sockets: At the extraction site, your body should form blood clots that will stay in place for a couple of days. These blood clots should form on their own and go away on their own. Some people experience dry sockets, which can be very painful. To reduce your risk of this, be sure to avoid sucking through a straw, smoking, or messing with the extraction site with your finger or tongue.

Diet: You will need to eat softer foods while your gums are healing. If you eat anything hard, this could irritate the extraction site. So, you will need to start with gelatin, pudding, and soups for a while and then slowly add back in solid foods.

While you may be still experiencing some discomfort, it should go away on its own. If it intensifies, then seek help from your oral surgeon. Severe pain could mean an infection.