Image courtesy of Pickett Family Dental.

If you recently had your wisdom teeth removed, you might be wondering what to do now. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a guide of what you can expect and what steps you can take to ensure a speedy recovery. Here’s a preview of what we’ll cover in this article:

  • How Long Does the Recovery Process Take?
  • Side Effects and How to Combat Them
  • What Can You Eat?
  • A Little Bit of R&R

How Long Does the Recovery Process Take?

In short, recovering from wisdom teeth surgery takes roughly two weeks.

Dentists instruct patients to begin proper care immediately after the surgery. This means making sure they use gauze to stop bleeding, take pain medications when necessary, and do not eat or drink anything that might cause short- or long-term problems.

Side Effects and How to Combat Them

As with any surgery, there will be side effects to having your wisdom teeth removed. Listed and explained below are the most common ones that people experience.


A side effect all people experience post-wisdom teeth surgery is bleeding. While bleeding might be panic-inducing, it is completely normal in this scenario.

To combat this, place the gauze your dentist gave you over the area and bite down. Do this for 30 minutes, and make sure to not chew on the gauze, as that can cause more bleeding. If the gauze does not help, swap it out with a wet tea bag; the tannic acid from the tea aids in the formation of clots.

Clots should form within 24 hours; if bleeding persists, contact your dentist.

Swelling and Bruising

When people talk about having “chipmunk cheeks” after wisdom teeth surgery, it is because they are experiencing swelling. Usually, swelling reaches its peak two to three days after the surgery.

However, placing an ice pack on your face for 20 minutes, leaving it off for 20 minutes, and repeating can help lessen the possibility of swelling. The most crucial time to ice your jaw is 24 to 36 hours after the surgery.

A woman holds a blue ice pack to the left side of her face to help reduce pain and swelling.
Icing your jaw like so can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Image courtesy of Redmond Signature Dentistry.

With swelling often comes bruising. Using ice packs can help alleviate the pain caused by bruising and can also make it go away more quickly. By two weeks after the surgery, bruising should be completely gone.


This side effect is often a result of the anesthesia used during or the pain medications taken following surgery. If you experience nausea and/or vomiting, wait an hour before taking anything. After, take small sips of ginger ale; if you keep that down, eat some solid but soft foods. Then, you’re good to take the medication again.

General Discomfort

While pain depends on the person, each person who has wisdom teeth surgery will at least experience a general discomfort. This can include stiffness, soreness, pain when swallowing, and other similar effects.

Taking prescribed pain medications, like Vicodin or Percocet, or over-the-counter medications, like Advil or Tylenol, can help alleviate these symptoms of general discomfort. If you take these, do not drink alcoholic beverages or operate machinery; in fact, do not drink alcohol post-surgery, anyways. Avoiding tobacco products during the recovery process is also crucial, as the latter can increase the risk of dry sockets.

What Can You Eat?

After having one to four teeth removed from your mouth, it’s unlikely you’ll want to eat a large meal. When you do feel hungry during the first 24 hours, though, stick to only liquids -- soups, milkshakes, smoothies, etc. However, do not use a straw, as the use of one can create dry sockets, which are extremely painful.

A man digs his spoon into a bowl of chocolate ice cream.
Soft, cold foods like ice cream are great to eat during the first 24 hours, as they soothe the mouth and don’t require a lot of chewing.

For the next four to five days, eat only soft foods that don’t require you to chew a great deal, like applesauce, pudding, and pasta. Make sure to eat high-calorie, high-protein foods, as they are important for regaining strength.

A Little Bit of R&R

The main thing you need to do post-surgery is rest. Sleep and rest are important when people are recovering from illnesses or injuries, so it only makes sense that you need both to properly recover from oral surgery.

A woman rests with her head elevated on several pillows.
Elevating your head with pillows and getting some sleep are ways to ensure a quick recovery.

In addition, continue to practice proper oral hygiene, as this is especially important after having wisdom teeth removed. You definitely want to keep brushing and flossing regularly, however, you need to be gentle the first few weeks after the surgery. Do not floss nor brush roughly near the surgical areas, as this could cause bleeding and irritation.

Taking proper care of your mouth after you had your wisdom teeth removed is essential to the recovery process. If you have any questions or concerns, the staff at Elizabeth Wakim DDS who specialize in oral and maxillofacial surgery are here to help.