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The American Public Health Association estimates the number of wisdom teeth removed in the U.S. each year at around 10 million. Despite the number of people who undergo this relatively simple procedure every year, there are a surprising number of aftercare mistakes patients make. These mistakes can prolong recovery time and cause more pain and sensitivity during the healing process. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when you’re recovering after having your wisdom teeth removed.

Smoking Smoking is, by far, one of the worst things you can do after surgery. Blood clots are a critical part of the healing process and help control bleeding. Smoking (and using straws) creates suction in your mouth that can disrupt those blood clots. Dry socket is an extremely painful condition that can occur 3-5 days after removal of lower wisdom teeth. Pain medication is not effective to treat dry socket. The components in cigarettes will slow down your healing and increase the likelihood you will experience dry socket.

Improper Diet and Nutrition As you heal, some people eat foods that are too hard, while others avoid eating and drinking entirely. Patients should start drinking cold liquids immediately after the gauze are removed. Not only is it important to stay hydrated, but the cold helps with pain and minimizes bleeding. A number of factors, like side effects from pain medication, can lead to nausea after surgery. Eating soft foods is a great, simple way to lessen and prevent post-op nausea.

Not Consistently Rinsing Your Mouth Finally, as you feel your mouth begin to heal, remember it’s important to regularly rinse out your mouth as directed by your oral surgeon. Often, the recommended rinse is simply warm water with a small measure of salt, used multiple times per day, especially after eating and drinking. It can help reduce pain and swelling and support the healing process.

Above all, it’s critical to follow any and all instructions given to you by your doctor. Stay vigilant about your aftercare and mindful of your diet for several days after your surgery. You’ll shorten your healing process and prevent additional discomfort. For more information about wisdom tooth extraction, contact Waco Surgical Arts. Stay tuned to see how Waco Surgical Arts uses the latest dentistry technology to prevent dry socket!

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