Wisdom Teeth: Your Recovery       

After surgery to remove your wisdom teeth, your mouth needs time to heal. Some bleeding is normal on the first day after surgery. You may also see some bruising and swelling on your face for about the first week. To promote faster healing, get enough rest, eat and drink nutritious foods, and take care of the extraction site. Follow any special instructions from your surgeon.

Closeup cross section of jawbone and molars showing blood clot where wisdom tooth was removed.


Closeup cross section of jawbone and molars showing repair tissue where wisdom tooth was removed.


Closeup cross section of jawbone and molars showing bone where wisdom tooth was removed.


The healing process

Healing after wisdom teeth removal takes a few months. First, a blood clot forms in the socket where the wisdom tooth was removed. Within a day or 2, the socket starts filling with repair tissue. This lays the foundation for new bone tissue to grow. When new bone tissue fills the socket, healing is complete.

After surgery

During the first day or 2 after surgery:

  • Control bleeding. Bite down on the gauze dressing over the extraction site. Use constant pressure. Bleeding should stop within 2 hours. (Some oozing for a few days is normal.)

  • Take medicine as directed. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medicine. Or he or she may suggest using over-the-counter medicine instead. You may also be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.

  • Reduce swelling. Apply an ice pack to your cheek for 10 minutes at a time. Take a break of at least 5 minutes between applications. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

  • Don’t drink hot liquids. Heat may increase swelling or bleeding.

  • Get enough rest. Take it easy for at least 24 hours after surgery. And go to bed early.

  • Drink nutritious liquids. Once bleeding has stopped, try drinking vegetable juice, 100% fruit juice, protein drinks, or milk.

  • Protect the extraction site. To avoid dislodging the blood clot, don’t brush your teeth or rinse your mouth the first day. Don’t smoke or drink through a straw. Suction can dislodge the clot.

Helping your mouth heal

  • Return slowly to your normal diet. Start with soft foods such as oatmeal, bananas, or mashed potatoes. You can puree fruits and vegetables in a blender. You can eat solid food when you feel able to.

  • Brush and floss your teeth gently. Wait until the day after surgery. Then, take care when cleaning around the healing site.

  • Keep the extraction site clean. Starting the day after surgery, rinse your mouth after each meal for about a week. Use antiseptic as directed. Or make a mixture of 1 cup warm water and ½ teaspoon salt.

Things to avoid

  • Don’t drive while you’re taking prescription pain medicine.

  • Don’t drink alcohol for as long as you’re taking pain medicine.

  • Don’t smoke for at least a week after surgery. This allows faster healing. The longer you keep from smoking, the better. Quitting permanently is best of all.

  • Don’t eat crunchy or sticky foods for at least 2 weeks. This includes foods such as popcorn or caramel. Also, avoid drinking thick liquids (such as a milk shake) through a straw.

  • Don't rinse your mouth vigorously during the first 24 hours. You may dislodge the blood clot.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider after surgery if any of the following occur:

  • The pain becomes more severe on the day after surgery or can’t be controlled with pain medicine.

  • Bleeding becomes hard to control or comes in spurts.

  • You have chills.

  • You have a fever over 100.4ºF (38ºC), or as directed by your provider.

  • Swelling around the extraction site gets worse.

  • You have itching, a rash, or other symptoms that may be due to an allergic reaction to your medicine.

  • You have persistent nausea or vomiting.