What happens after a wisdom tooth is removed?

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Randall D. Stastny, DMD
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
As with any surgical procedure, you may experience discomfort, bleeding, swelling and/or infection. The severity of your symptoms may depend on the severity of the impaction of your wisdom teeth. Luckily there are medications to help control discomfort and swelling, and along with ice packs and biting on gauze some patients have little to no difficulties after wisdom tooth removal.

If your lower wisdom teeth are too close to the nerve in your jaw you may experience some numbness or tingling of the chin, lower lip or lower teeth. This only happens in a small percentage of patients, and is usually temporary.
Following wisdom tooth surgery, you may experience:
  • Swelling and discomfort, which is part of the normal healing process. Cold compresses can help decrease the swelling. Medication prescribed by your dentist also can help relieve discomfort. You may be instructed to drink only clear liquids after the surgery until you can comfortably begin to eat soft foods.
  • Numbness or tingling in the face or jaw after surgery. Normal sensation usually returns within a few days. In rare cases, nerve damage may result. If you experience numbness or tingling longer than a few days, consult your dentist.
  • Dry socket. This condition occasionally occurs when the blood clot breaks down sooner than normal. If this happens, your dentist may place a special dressing in the tooth's socket to protect it as it heals. Symptoms include a dull ache and foul odor, but they may not appear for three or four days. Contact your dentist if you notice these symptoms.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.