One of the most common side effects of wisdom tooth removal is swelling. It can be uncomfortable, and worse yet, make it difficult to eat your favorite foods. But don’t worry—there are several steps you can take to reduce swelling after wisdom teeth removal.
Everyone knows the typical “hamster cheeks”, which often occur after wisdom tooth surgery. Immediately after surgery, the swelling increases steadily for the first 36 hours and then decreases.
The cheeks may be swollen for several days after surgery, especially if the surgery was more complicated.
Most of the time, however, the swelling is gone after a week.
If the thick cheek is still increasing on the second day and new pain suddenly appears (especially if the cheek is red and feels hard), you’d better see a doctor, because this is a sign of inflammation!
- Want to go back to work the day after next, and get rid of the hamster cheeks as soon as possible? You probably won’t succeed completely.
- Despite this: there are a few tips and tricks you can use to speed up the swelling, and make sure it doesn’t get as bad.
1: Cool, cool, cool
Layout a few cold packs ahead of time, and it’s best to take one with you to the doctor if they can’t get one at the doctor’s office. That way, you can start cooling right after surgery.
Caution: Do not cool for too long if the local anesthetic is still working! Especially not with frozen cold packs – you could undercool the tissue! Only cool for a few seconds at a time, and never place cold packs directly on the skin.
You should cool while swelling is still increasing, and for a short time afterward, i.e., for the first 36 hours after surgery.
Recommendable cold packs are available, for example, here on Amazon*.
Favorable alternatives to the cold pack
At night, you can also put a cold washcloth on your cheek. If possible, you should lie on your back when doing this, or it’s best to sleep sitting up, so that no heat builds up between your cheek and pillow.
- Ice cubes from sage tea not only cool, they also prevent inflammation. Sucking ice cubes also numbs post-op pain a bit.
- Teas made from arnica or chamomile have a decongestant and anti-inflammatory effect, and are therefore often recommended. But they also have a blood-thinning effect.
In particular, most people have had very good experiences with arnica. However, if you feel that the bleeding has increased due to the tea, it is better to wait until the wound is closed.
A mouthwash containing chlorhexidine can prevent inflammation and help the healing process. Alternatively, you can rinse with an isotonic saline solution (1/4 tsp salt to 1 glass of water).
When doing so, however, you should be careful and under no circumstances move the rinse back and forth violently in your mouth, as this can loosen the blood clot above the wound.
3: Keep your head elevated
If possible, you should not lie flat, but make sure that your head is higher than the rest of your body. It’s also good at night to keep your head elevated if possible
4: Drink plenty of fluids
Enough fluids are important for wound healing.
6: Don’t exercise or engage in strenuous activity
By being too active, blood pressure rises and the body cannot recover. You should also not put too much stress on the jaw itself (for example, by talking or chewing a lot)
7. Avoid heat stress
Any heat can delay the decline of swelling, so for example sunbathing, sauna visits and solariums – but also hot food and drinks.
8: Do not smoke
Smoking worsens wound healing, this can significantly delay the reduction of swelling and the healing of the wound.
9.Eat foods that improve wound healing
- Protein-rich foods, for example, meat, eggs, potatoes, spinach
- Vitamin A-rich foods, for example, dark green vegetables
- Foods high in zinc, for example whole grains, spinach, eggs
10.Avoid foods that worsen wound healing
Note: See the article Eating after wisdom tooth surgery for even more detailed information.
But for a quick overview, you can keep in mind the following foods that you should better avoid immediately after surgery:
- Dairy products
- Caffeinated beverages and foods (coffee, black tea)
- grapes and raisins
- Fish and anchovies
- Sharp spices
The right diet promotes healing.
This includes spices, herbs and foods that are normally good for wound healing but have blood-thinning effects. You should avoid these immediately after surgery to prevent the wound from starting to bleed again or the blood clot from dislodging.
- Cayenne pepper
- Green tea
11. Proper dental care
If you have an oral irrigator, then you can gently rinse the mouth with it (it is best to omit the wound and not aim directly at it with the jet).
The use of dental floss can be somewhat painful, since the mouth must be opened wide for this.
If you suffer from pain, it’s best to stop brushing for some time.
In addition, instead of using an electric brush, it is better to brush by hand for the first few days to protect the oral cavity. After a little waiting time, you can then return to normal for white teeth.
After that, however, it is worth switching to an electric toothbrush, because these devices usually clean better and more conveniently. A recommended model is, for example, the Sonicare Flexcare Platinum from Philips: