Had I the wisdom of my teeth, I'd have asked this question sooner
February 9, 2017 7:24 PM   Subscribe

I went under general anesthesia today to have my two remaining wisdom teeth removed - both of the bottom ones. I got all the info from the nurses about no straws or spitting, soft foods only for a couple days, etc. What tips and tricks can you give me, based on your experience, that will help healing go easier?
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Ice. Ice packs & Italian Ice, they reduce swelling and pain. Also, take your pain med as prescribed. It makes a world of difference! Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 7:32 PM on February 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

It's probably obvious to most people, but don't keep opening your mouth a little bit wider and wider to find out when it will start to hurt. Just take the word of someone who always has to learn the hard way that you will reach that point sooner than you think, and once it starts, the pain does not go away for a long time.

Also, sleep is your friend right now. Let it happen. (If nothing else, it will keep you from experimenting with how wide you can open your mouth.)
posted by rpfields at 7:32 PM on February 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ask for a little plastic syringe to shoot jets of water into the back corners (to dislodge stuck bits). No oatmeal (you can see where this story would go...). Anyway the syringe was fantastic and I used it for months to keep it clean. Get one before you need it.

Take pain meds before you need them.
posted by jrobin276 at 7:33 PM on February 9, 2017 [9 favorites]

Best answer: okay let me tell you

I was in 8th grade when I got my wisdom teeth removed, and the dentist gave me the syringe/squirt gun tool to keep the hole where my tooth had been clean while the gum healed up.

I did not use this contraption, and a piece of food got trapped inside my gum and the gum healed around it. Then one day at school, about a week later, one side of my face suddenly started swelling like crazy and I had to be rushed to my dentist to have the problem area re-opened and drained.

The moral of this revolting story: whatever cleaning instructions you were given, follow them.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:35 PM on February 9, 2017 [11 favorites]

Get the squirty syringe and use it whenever you feel like you need it. And whenever you don't feel like you need it. Just keep squirting constantly, is what I'm saying.

My other wisdom tooth extraction advice is don't start watching Little Shop of Horrors, fall asleep partway through, and then wake up an hour into 1776, or you will be really confused.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:38 PM on February 9, 2017 [9 favorites]

Stay ahead of the pain--take your pain meds on schedule.

Get someone to bring you some soft savory food--eggs or soup or something. If you're anything like me, it's not going to take long to get sick of sweet stuff.
posted by mchorn at 7:42 PM on February 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

The food particle was fermenting inside my gum.

I just remembered that detail.


posted by roger ackroyd at 7:42 PM on February 9, 2017 [9 favorites]

Nthing the quirty thing to clean it out. Someone gave me the advice to stick black teabags over the wounds when I was awake and upright, and it did seem to cushion/absorb more pleasantly than gauze did.
posted by TwoStride at 7:44 PM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Avoid foods whose taste you don't wish to forever remember tainted with blood.

Avoid swallowing lots of blood. I fell asleep on my back, swallowed a lake of blood, and then had the fun experience of vomiting coagulated blood. Nausea from pain meds may or may not have contributed to that truly memorable experience.

Don't poke your puffy face. Don't poke your incisions. Don't play with your stitches with your tongue.

Listen to Harry Potter on tape/CD. The soothing and masterful voice of Jim Dale was the only thing that truly eased my pain.
posted by Temeraria at 7:45 PM on February 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Chew on cool wet peppermint tea bags. It will give you something soft to press up against your sore gums and it will help your mouth not taste like blood.
posted by jessamyn at 7:49 PM on February 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I had 0 pain or issues for a week, and then suddenly I had SO MUCH PAIN and couldn't open my mouth. So don't be lulled into a false sense of security if everything seems normal immediately after the surgery.
posted by (Over) Thinking at 7:57 PM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

As fun as this sounds. I remember I was directed to do warm salt water rinses - as salty as tolerated. Nothing aggressive. Just gently swish around your mouth.

Yep. Tasty.
posted by MandaSayGrr at 8:02 PM on February 9, 2017 [10 favorites]

I was told not to bend over as well as the no straws advice. Do not dislodge healing blood clots or whatever is going on via gravity or suction. I was v paranoid about this but since no one else is saying it...maybe it was the pain meds and I had it done a LONG time ago...pre-syringe days it seems.
posted by bquarters at 8:03 PM on February 9, 2017

I used cloth bandages to hold ice packs around my face. Like wrapped it around my face and tied a bow on the top of my head...
posted by inevitability at 8:12 PM on February 9, 2017

Best answer: If you have persistent pain that bugs you, don't be a hero and get it checked out. Dry socket is a thing (or so I fuzzily remember from when I was 18).
posted by sacchan at 8:15 PM on February 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Lots of ice cream. Also, the water irrigator is a must. I can't tell you how much food I squirted out of those holes. If you can't open your mouth much, you'll probably have problems brushing your teeth. Maybe a child sized tooth brush would be helpful.
posted by hazel79 at 8:23 PM on February 9, 2017

Ice. For longer than you think you need. And food with fibre in it. And try to go for a walk a day as soon as you can, even a short one.
posted by kjs4 at 8:25 PM on February 9, 2017

I was doped up on pain pills - all four teeth at a time - but I kept a written log of when I took every single dose of medication that I kept referring to; I would never have remembered. I discovered that I didn't have enough ice packs or soup, so my recent ex-boyfriend went to the drugstore and brought me both. Awkward. It's important to have someone you can call on, at least occasionally, to bring you stuff.

The doctor I went to demanded I have a ride home- a taxi wouldn't be OK - and I don't actually remember who took me home.
posted by bendy at 8:29 PM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Follow all of the instructions for keeping it clean. REST. Take your pain meds. Popsicles and Netflix. And yes, the little squirt syringe helps a LOT in keeping things clean!
posted by I_love_the_rain at 8:34 PM on February 9, 2017

I remember being told to sleep with my head elevated. And nthing the food removal syringe. Use it and use it often.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 8:46 PM on February 9, 2017

DO NOT EAT POPCORN. Even if you think you're ready, give it another month.
posted by Charity Garfein at 10:33 PM on February 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

Black tea bags are not only good because they are cushiony and soft and possibly tasty, they actually have pro-coagulation effects and can stop dental wounds from bleeding, even when the bleeding is pretty significant.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:57 PM on February 9, 2017 [8 favorites]

Depending on your overall healing and pain levels you can forgo brushing your teeth with toothpaste for a couple days and instead do some spot cleaning with just water and then do a lot of salt water rinses. Try to use water that is as salty as possible - mix salt into actually boiling water on the stove, stir to dissolve, add more salt until it doesnt dissolve all the way and then add some more water to dissolve the remaining bits. You can keep that in a jug in the fridge (label it!) and warm it up for rinses so you don't have to do the whole process every time. It makes suuuuuuper salty water but it is really effective.

Those syringes are a must. The tea bag thing was helpful to me for a bit and if you don't want the caffeine you can try ginger tea, which doesn't have the tannins but can help with inflammation.

Even if you are meticulous with hygiene you can still get impactions and other grossness. Don't hesitate to get any increased pain looked at right away. Preemptive treatment can make a huge difference.
posted by Mizu at 11:16 PM on February 9, 2017

My dentist recommended packs of peas for ice packs; he found that they curved around the jawline better than actual ice packs, and were also cheaper sometimes.

I bought 6 packs of some generic kind, and rotated them out as they thawed.

Afterwards, you can eat the peas! They were mushy anyways, so I just put them all into a blended soup.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:29 PM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have no dental or prescription insurance, so I had all four wisdom teeth yanked with just novocaine and didn't fill my pain prescriptions. Gently rinsing my mouth out with 8 oz. of warm salt water several times a day was absolutely disgusting but vital to quick healing and reducing pain.
posted by xyzzy at 11:41 PM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had all four wisdom teeth out under general anaesthetic on my 17th birthday - happy birthday, me. This was after a snotty consultant at the dental hospital sniffed that I was far too young to have them - nice to know he'd obviously taken plenty of time to review the x-rays my dentist had sent him.
Anyway. My gums were stitched up but I got the warm salty water advice and did that several times a day for a week until the stitches were removed and suffered no pain or infection.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:44 AM on February 10, 2017

Do not watch "Some Like it Hot" during the first week or so, or it will result in a laughter->pain->laughter-at-pain cycle that will only be exacerbated by your loved-one laughing at the hilarity of the cycle.
posted by chiefthe at 5:03 AM on February 10, 2017

I just thought of some additional advice. Several years from now, you may discover tiny shards of bone erupting through your gums. You may find this very alarming, but try not to freak out too much.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:31 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Definitely go easy on yourself for the few days and follow the precautions above, but on the other side of experience spectrum - I didn't have any complications and I only had a small amount of pain which regular Tylenol handled (so I skipped the hard painkillers which made me a little nervous. Compare this to when I did teeth whitening and I felt like I needed a whoole bunch of drugs..!) I think not pushing yourself to move and eat too soon is helpful.

I drank some of those ensure-type shakes too, which kept me nicely full. They're something I never have otherwise, so it almost felt like a treat.
posted by moogs at 6:28 AM on February 10, 2017

At the end of your extraction, you or your handler will get a prescription for pain meds. Instead of going directly to the pharmacy, have the office call it in for you so you can pick it up with little to no waiting. I did not do this and I went into shock before the pain meds took hold.

If you go into shock, lie down and cover up with warm blankets and elevate your legs. If it doesn't get better in a few minutes, best to call 911.

Custard style yogurt with no seeds. I had a problem with rice getting lodged in one of the sockets. I didn't know about the syringe trick (although a water pick would work too), so I bent a pair of forceps to make extrication easier.

And you might think you can play a brass instrument after the swelling is down and all that. You'd be wrong. Wait another month.
posted by plinth at 7:03 AM on February 10, 2017

I ended up getting dry sockets on both of my bottom extraction sites, which was VERY not fun. I followed all of the advice: no straws, soft foods, syringe thingie, all of it, but it still happened.

If I were to do it all again, I think the thing I would NOT do is eat anything that is like a cake or soft bread. That stuff will get in your sockets like nobody's business and is hard to clean out, which meant I had to go a little harder with the syringe thingie, and I'm certain that didn't help on the dry sockets front.

Best of luck! (And P.S. dry sockets aren't fun, but they are also a relatively quick fix. The most unpleasant part for me was everything tasting like cloves for a week. I still don't care for cloves. Don't worry too much about dry sockets, is what I'm saying here. Badly.)
posted by helloimjennsco at 8:52 AM on February 10, 2017

Seconding the warm, salty water. By old posts here, I was also suggested to use clover oil, but I never needed it.

For about 10 days, just to be on the safe side, I had jello, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, and spaghetti hoops (spaghetti-os). I didn't have anything I had to chew, or anything that could get stuck.

Count on being tired while you're healing. You can warn people in advance.

Also, your other teeth may shift around some months after the wisdom teeth are removed. I had one of mine removed almost a year ago, and they started shifting around this week.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 11:08 AM on February 10, 2017

I could not eat anything more textured/solid than mashed potatoes, yogurt or ice cream for two weeks after having my wisdom teeth removed. I only needed pain meds for a couple of days, but it was uncomfortable to chew even something like a hamburger for quite a while.
posted by little mouth at 4:17 PM on February 10, 2017

Very good advice above. I would add, try to avoid alcohol, aspirin or any blood-thinners.

Doesn't sound like you're a smoker but of course that's pretty much the worst thing you could do.
posted by raider at 10:03 AM on February 12, 2017

salt water mouthwashing
posted by patnok at 6:31 PM on February 12, 2017

« Older Cars to sell. How?   |   Space efficiency for oil painting in a mixed-use... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.