Post-Operative Instructions: Wisdom Teeth Removal

Post-Operative Instructions: Wisdom Teeth Removal

If you have been scheduled to have your wisdom teeth removed, it will be important to follow these care instructions exactly as we present them.


Discomfort is normal after the extraction of teeth. Your doctor will instruct you on what medications to take the day of your surgery. If your pain is not controlled by the ibuprofen alone, take your prescribed narcotic in addition. Ibuprofen and your prescribed narcotic can be taken together. Be certain to take your pain medicines with food; this will help prevent nausea. Remember, narcotic pain medicine will impair your judgment and reflexes. Take pain medicine and antibiotics two hours apart to prevent nausea.


Gauze pad(s) should be placed directly over the extraction site(s) and held in place with firm biting pressure. Gauze should be replaced when needed. The amount of bleeding will vary from person to person. Most of your bleeding will slow within 3–4 hours, but a small amount of bleeding is common for up to 24 hours.

Start warm saltwater rinses on the third day following surgery. If you have been given an irrigating syringe, start irrigation on the fifth day following surgery. Fill the syringe with warm salt water or TheraSol® and use as instructed by your doctor. Do this 3–4 times a day for 2 weeks and lessen as the surgical site heals.


Swelling typically peaks by the third day and then starts to resolve; it can be reduced by the use of an ice pack. Apply the ice pack to the side of your face for 10 minutes; transfer it to the opposite side for another 10 minutes. Icing is most beneficial immediately after surgery and up to 72 hours after surgery. Also, keep your head elevated on 2 pillows for 3–4 days.


You may start with soft foods and gradually ramp up your diet as tolerated. Always cool down any hot foods or liquids during the first 24 hours. You should eat only soft foods for the first week: for example, soups, eggs, mashed potatoes, and meatloaf are fine. For 2 weeks, do not eat hard, crunchy, or very chewy foods, such as pizza crust, steak or jerky, nuts, or popcorn. To help prevent dry socket, do not use a straw for the first 5 days after surgery.

Oral Hygiene

Begin brushing your teeth the day after surgery. It is important to brush all of your teeth, even if the teeth and gums are sensitive. Bacterial plaque and food accumulation near the extraction site will delay healing.

Do not smoke for at least a week. Smoking will increase your bleeding; the nicotine and tar in tobacco impair healing and may cause a dry socket.


Unless told otherwise, avoid vigorous physical activity for 3 days following your surgery. Physical activity increases your blood pressure, which will cause an increase in your swelling, pain, and bleeding.