Wisdom Tooth Extraction: What to Expect

Having a wisdom tooth out is never fun, especially if the tooth never fully emerged. Still, there is no reason to be afraid. Modern dentistry can provide a smooth, simple, nearly pain-free experience. You should be back to work or school soon, and feeling like your old self before you know it. Here’s what to expect from every step.

The ExtractionWisdom Tooth Extraction

Your dentist will thoroughly numb your mouth prior to starting the extraction. If you are anxious, we offer three levels of sedation dentistry. Nitrous oxide is the mildest. It is inhaled through a mask and wears off quickly, allowing you to drive home. Oral sedation and IV sedation are a bit deeper and longer-lasting, requiring you to bring someone with you to drive you home.

Immediately Following Extraction

When the tooth is out, your dentist will clean the socket, place stitches if required, and have you bite down on a piece of gauze. This will control bleeding and begin the formation of a blood clot, so be sure to follow your dentist’s instructions regarding how long to leave the gauze in place.

You will be given a few minutes to rest in the dental chair. If you had IV sedation, you may be moved to a recovery room, depending on the level of sedation you received. Either way, you will go home soon after the extraction.

Activity Restrictions

For the first 24 hours, drink plenty of water and clear beverages. Avoid caffeine, carbonation, alcohol, or anything hot. You can resume normal beverages after this time, but ask your dentist before drinking alcohol if you are still on pain medication. Do not use a straw for at least a week.

Eat soft, bland foods that are not too hot or cold for the first 24 hours. After that, you can resume your normal diet, except that you should avoid very hard, sticky, or chewy foods for a week.

Do not brush your teeth or rinse your mouth for 24 hours. You can then resume brushing, but be very careful around the tooth extraction site for one week. Starting on the second day, gently rinse with salt water every two hours and after meals, until the extraction site feels healed. Ask your dentist when you can resume using mouthwash, which may be too strong for the healing extraction site.

Avoid smoking for at least 72 hours, and chewing tobacco for at least a week. Both can lead to dry socket, which is highly painful and can increase the risk of infection.

You may be able to go back to school or work in 24-48 hours, or it may take a little longer. Ask your dentist for individualized advice. Avoid strenuous activities for one week, or longer if your extraction site is healing slowly.

Side Effects

Expect to experience some bleeding for the first 24-48 hours. Use gauze as needed to manage bleeding, and try not to spit forcefully. Pain should be minimal if you stay ahead of it by taking your medication as prescribed.

Swelling and bruising are fairly common. Use an ice pack to keep it controlled. Swelling generally goes away within the first 72 hours, and bruising will start to fade around the same time.

If you received stitches, your dentist will schedule an appointment to remove them. This is an easy, anesthesia-free process that takes just minutes.


Complications are extremely rare. Call your dentist right away if you notice any of the following:

  • Severe or worsening pain
  • Significant bleeding after 24 hours or uncontrollable bleeding at any time
  • Swelling that worsens after the first 72 hours
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Persistent bad taste that does not go away with a saltwater rinse
  • Pus in the socket
  • Pus or blood in nasal discharge
  • Fever

Conveniently located in Woodbury, MN, Creekview Dental provides a progressive yet conservative approach to dental care. Our innovative, highly personalized procedures are focused on maintaining tooth structure and providing you with the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve. Call us today at 651-738-8204 to take the first steps on the road to better dental health.