Recovery for my wisdom teeth was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated. However, keep in mind that my jaw was fractured during the procedure (as discussed in Part 1) so I’m not sure I’m a good reference point for a typical wisdom tooth recovery.
After I went home I had a bit of an issue because my mouth wouldn’t stop bleeding. I think I was inadvertently pulling the clots out when changing the gauze which caused the bleeding. It was more of a nuisance than anything else. I was also icing my jaw as directed. At around 2:30 my husband and I made the decision to call the oral surgeon and let them know about the situation. They told us to come back in and they would take a look.
At this point in time I hadn’t had any food or water because I thought I wasn’t supposed to until my mouth stopped bleeding (this isn’t true by the way). I was feeling very weak and discouraged to say the least. When we got to the dental office the nurse administered some kind of medicated gel on the sockets. This seemed to solve the problem and after the oral surgeon took a second look they confirmed I was okay to go back home. They also gave me a bottle of chocolate Ensure which I couldn’t have yet because you are not supposed to consume any dairy for a certain amount of hours after a procedure with anesthesia.
After that I finally felt better. I was so relieved to be able to finally drink water and sustenance in the form of a smoothie.
I feel extremely fortunate that I did not experience much pain following the surgery. I only took 1 Advil liquid gel every 5 hours and that was sufficient for me. I kept expecting the pain to “finally” kick in, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected.
The oral surgeon prescribed me Norco just in case, but I never took it (I never even filled the prescription).
Full disclosure : I have kind of a high pain tolerance and I’m strangely averse to taking medication if I can avoid it. However, listen to your own body and use your intuition. From what I’ve heard, everyone experiences varying levels of pain after a wisdom tooth extraction. I think I got lucky in this regard.
The pain was a dull ache on most days and it didn’t completely disappear until around day 10.
One thing that everyone worries about, or at least wonders about is looking like a chipmunk. My cheeks were swollen at the end of day two and all of day three but nothing terrible. I wasn’t afraid to go out in public, in fact, I found it a little funny.
I had my surgery on a Friday and I returned to work on Wednesday (since everyone had Tuesday off for Fourth of July). I allowed myself a full six days to recover, and two of those days I requested time off from work. That was the perfect amount of time for me personally. I think I could have functioned with five days of recovery, but four would have been pushing it because even small outings left me incredibly tired.
I think Matt and I went to the movies on day three and I felt like I was on drugs even though I only took 1 Advil. My reaction time was super slow. Someone would walk towards me and I would try to move out of the way but I felt like my body wasn’t keeping up with my brain. Everything drained me and even stupid stuff like leaving Matt to go to the ladies room made me emotional for some reason. I’m glad we went to the movies though because I get stir crazy easily and it was nice to get out of the house.
When I returned to work I felt totally normal and up to the task. At the end of the day I merely felt more fatigued than usual.
I had my follow up visit exactly a week later and the nurse did another set of x-rays on my jaw. My jaw was indeed fractured, not broken- thank goodness! Apparently it wasn’t even a particularly bad fracture so I didn’t need to get my jaws wired shut or anything. However, I would have to be on soft foods for 6 weeks and I was not allowed to exercise during that time. I also had to take an additional round of antibiotics to prevent infection.
At least my jaw wasn’t broken….
Wisdom Teeth Recovery Tips
1. Listen to the protocol that the oral surgeon provides- it’s there for a reason. This one sounds obvious, but I didn’t start using the irrigator (plastic syringe) until a week after the surgery and I was supposed to do so sooner. I was only rinsing with salt water. The nurse used the irrigator during the follow up appointment and it was so uncomfortable. It feels very abnormal and after learning how to do it I realized the cold water she used (not her fault, you can’t warm it up at a dental facility) made the experience especially unpleasant. The irrigator really helps keep everything clean and prevent infection so I highly recommend using it when they tell you to. I can’t do it on my own however, I need Matt to help me.
2. Go easy on yourself and listen to what your body needs. Get more sleep if you’re tired, take pain pills when your mouth is aching, take an extra day off work if you have to. This is the time to treat yourself gently. Catch up on that TV show you’ve been wanting to watch, buy that bestseller your best friend recommended, take a relaxing bath. Do what makes you feel good and enjoy your recovery to the best of your ability.
3. Ask your significant other, relative, or friend to take care of you or check in on you the first three days. Odds are you will not be feeling very well and it will be difficult to take care of yourself. I am lucky to have such a sweet husband who took the day off . When I didn’t stop bleeding that first day he drove me back to the doctor and made me ice cream, jello, and soup when we got home 🙂 If you aren’t able to have someone around that first day make sure your fridge/pantry are stocked with soft foods that are easy to eat.
4. Go slow with food. I was already sick of jello after the first day and protein shakes were also beginning to lose their luster. On day three I tried eating scrambled eggs for breakfast and I cried when they were too difficult to eat. I just wanted to eat normal food already darnit. After that I was more patient with myself. I could eat risotto but it kind of got stuck. Vietnamese pho had spices that burned my mouth a little. Every new meal was a learning experience.
5. Be prepared when you return to work/school (if applicable). I bought chicken soup, mashed potatoes, instant mac and cheese, protein shakes, pudding, etc. Essentially I planned my meals ahead of time so I never had to worry about having enough food on hand at work. I also brought my salt water rinse to work so I could rinse out my mouth after lunch.
There you have it. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment. I know I had a lot of questions about the process myself before I made the leap. My wisdom teeth recovery segment will conclude with my soft foods for six weeks journey.