You may be reading this because you’re planning to have tooth surgery and you might have heard some horror stories about liquid diets, appalling pain, dry socket syndrome, or other complications. However, millions of wisdom tooth extractions are performed without incident each year and you can speed up your post-surgery recovery by following some basic strategies, and feel more relaxed during the process. The best thing to do in the very likely scenario that you or a loved one need to have wisdom tooth surgery is to prepare for recovery in advance.
Drink Ice-cold Coconut Ice-cold Water Before You’re Ready to Eat Soft Food
Not being able to eat normally is one of the wisdom tooth surgery’s downside but coconut water can keep satiated and hydrated while you recover. Coconut water helps stabilize blood sugar and replenish electrolytes while consuming solid foods is not possible.
Holding these components in equilibrium allows the body to focus more on the recovery from safe wisdom teeth removal. In addition, any residual discomfort can be soothed by drinking your coconut water at a very cold temperature. Consider whipping up a smoothie with lots of greens and healthy fats and using coconut water as the liquid if you want to reap the benefits of coconut water but don’t want to drink it straight away. I would also recommend adding a dash or two of turmeric to reduce inflammation and speed recovery even further.
Massage the Masseter Muscles
The mouth is held wide open for an extended period of time during wisdom tooth surgery which can lead to myofascial discomfort and cramped or sore muscles. Specially prone to soreness is the masseter muscle, which is one of the muscles in your jaw that helps you chew. Massaging this region post-surgery will help you recover quicker, as it removes some of the excessive pain that your jaw might be experiencing. To find the muscle and know where to rub, feel for a notch just below your cheekbone and about an inch or so in front of your ear. Just below that is your masseter muscle. Massage gently with your fingertips in a circular motion for several minutes at a time.
Prevent ‘Dry Socket’
Once the extraction is done, the body starts the job of healing itself immediately. This involves blood clotting over the extraction site to protect the underlying tissue and bone — think of it like a scab that protects skin wounds as they heal. It’s very important to keep the blood clot in place. When, for any reason, it is dislodged it can cause tremendous pain once the underlying bone is exposed. This condition is called a dry socket and may be caused by seemingly harmless things such as sipping through a straw or mouthwash swishing. After the surgery, your dentist will give you a gauze to bite right down on. When it’s due for replacement, failing to soak the fresh gauze in water before placing it into your mouth can also lead to dry socket, as the gauze can bind to the clot and force it out.
Prevent Dry Mouth
Following wisdom tooth surgery your mouth will probably feel very raw and depending on how tender you feel it is, you might be tempted to breathe through your mouth. When possible, however, stop it as this will dry out your mouth. Dryness can disrupt your mouth’s pH balance, which can allow the proliferation of cavity-causing bacteria, raising the risk of infection. If you need to breathe through your mouth, use a moisturizer in the oral cavity such as Biotene gel to help keep your mouth clean while you recover.
Elevate Your Head
Keep your head high with plenty of pillows while you sleep so your upper body is close to an angle of 45 degrees. This can help you recover from wisdom tooth surgery faster because the pressure on the blood vessels and the amount of blood near the wound increases if you lie flat, which can cause the wound to throb. Therefore, keeping your head at an angle sufficiently higher than the rest of your body will help to reduce swelling. Using an airline pillow is an easy and effective way to keep your head up when you’re in trying to sleep or rest in an upright position.
Use Ice to Prevent Swelling
The cold will help to reduce any swelling, so ice should be applied to the near-extraction area. To protect from ice burns, cover the ice in a cloth, and only ice the area for about 20 minutes at a time. You can also buy a head wrap to give you a hands-free way to keep your jaw iced. However, a word of caution: Never apply heat to this area. Heat can increase blood flow to the area which will increase pain and swelling.