Wisdom tooth removal - Recovery 

Recovering from wisdom tooth removal 

It can take up to two weeks to fully recover after having your wisdom teeth removed.

During this time, you may experience:

  • swelling (inflammation) of your mouth and cheeks – this will be worse for the first few days, but will gradually improve; gently pressing a cold cloth to your face will help reduce the swelling
  • a stiff, sore jaw – this should wear off within 7 to 10 days; the skin around your jaw may also be bruised for up to two weeks
  • pain – this is worse if the extraction was complicated
  • an unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • tingling or numbness of your face, lips or tongue (although this is uncommon)

You should report any excess bleeding, severe pain or any other unusual symptoms to your dentist or oral surgeon immediately.

Self-care advice

To reduce pain and aid your recovery, it can be helpful to:

  • use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (always read and follow the manufacturer's dosage instructions)
  • avoid strenuous activity and exercise for a few days
  • use an extra pillow to support your head at night
  • for 24 hours, avoid rinsing, spitting, hot drinks or anything else that may dislodge the blood clots that form in the empty tooth socket, as they help the healing process
  • avoid drinking alcohol and smoking 
  • eat soft or liquid food for a few days and chew with your other teeth
  • gently rinse the extraction site with antiseptic mouthwash after 24 hours, and repeat this regularly over the next few days

Working and driving

It's usually recommended that you take a day or two off work after having a wisdom tooth removed.

You can drive immediately after the procedure if local anaesthetic was used, but you should avoid driving for at least 24 hours if a sedative was used, or 48 hours if the procedure was carried out under general anaesthetic.

Returning to normal

After your wisdom teeth have been removed and any swelling and bruising has disappeared, your mouth and face should return to normal.

You will usually be able to brush your teeth normally after a few days. Make sure that you finish any course of antibiotics that you've been given.

A check-up appointment may be arranged for about a week or so after the procedure. At this point, any remaining stitches may be removed.

Page last reviewed: 04/06/2013

Next review due: 04/06/2015

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Eds8250 said on 14 April 2013

I have my last lower wisdom teeths on each side removed 3 days ago and wondering if it's normal by waking up face and pillow case covered with blood . I had it done by surgery and 3 stiches on each side. I do as instructions from the dentist for recovery which it's all on this website too. The dentist ask me to go back after 10 days to remove the stitches but with my condition, should I contact them earlier? Thanks.

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Painkillers, paracetamol

Find out about paracetamol, which can be used to relieve mild to moderate pain or treat a high temperature (fever).