Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are large teeth in the back of the jaw. Wisdom teeth tend to become impacted, meaning they come in at an angle or with insufficient room so that they put pressure on other teeth and harm tooth alignment. This prompts many people to get wisdom teeth removed, either to eliminate an impacted tooth, or as a precaution against future problems. After the surgical removal of the teeth, the initial recovery of the patient involves overcoming the affects of drugs and sedatives administered during the operation, and controlling swelling. The first 24 hours after the extraction are critical for the healing process. Any instructions given by the surgeon, such as avoiding certain foods, cleansing the mouth and using ice or gauze, should be strictly followed.
The first week of recovery after wisdom tooth extraction often determines the length of the recovery time. Bleeding of the extraction sites should stop after the first day, but saliva may continue to be slightly red or pink. Swelling of the jaw area is likely to continue for a few days, and there will likely be significant soreness and low mobility in the jaw area for the first week. It is possible that the surgeon may have used sutures to stitch up the extraction sites of the teeth. It is important not to disturb the extraction sites by eating hard foods, or it can slow recovery time. Usually after a week patients will have recovered enough to resume normal activities. The main complication which can hamper recovery is a dry socket, which occurs when the blood clot in the healing extraction site comes out. This can cause pain and will slow the healing process, as a new clot will have to form.
After a week most patients of wisdom tooth extractions can function normally, though certain hard foods may have to be avoided or chewed with care. Doctors may recommend certain precautions, such as bathing the mouth in warm salty water for longer than the first week. You should also avoid blowing or sucking strongly for a couple weeks just in case, as it can dislodge blood clots from your sockets. Even after the extraction site has healed after a week or two, holes will remain in the jaw which can take six months or more to completely fill in with new tissue. Your dentist may give you a special water syringe to flood the recesses in your jaw with water in order to clear out any food particles that get in them. The holes should not affect any normal daily activities.