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Wisdom Teeth Extractions

Wisdom teeth—or third molars—are located in the back of the mouth. For most people, wisdom teeth mature during their late teens or early twenties. Mature wisdom teeth have roots and will have erupted from the gum tissue. However, that does not always happen.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Fully impacted wisdom teeth don’t usually break through the gum tissue, but if they do, it is partial. A wisdom tooth is considered impacted if it doesn’t have enough room to erupt normally. Instead of erupting, fully impacted wisdom teeth remain underneath the gum tissue (or worse, they become stuck in the jawbone). There are a few different ways that your wisdom teeth can be impacted. Some of them are:

  • Soft tissue impaction

  • Partial bony impaction

  • Complete bony impaction

If your wisdom teeth are partially or fully impacted, it is in your best interest to get them removed. This is because impacted wisdom teeth can:

  • Get stuck in the jawbone

  • Eventually grow into the nerve canal, making removal more difficult and painful

  • Cause infection

  • Lead to gum disease

  • Cause cavities 

  • Overcrowd other teeth, causing pain and shifting

  • Lead to tooth decay

When Wisdom Teeth Should Be Removed

At Durango Dental, we recommend that mature wisdom teeth be removed as soon as possible. However, we know that the words “surgery” and “removal” might sound a bit scary. Some patients may choose to delay treatment over fears of the procedure, but delaying treatment may increase the likelihood of:

  • Health risks

  • Post-surgical infection

  • Prolonged recovery

  • Acute pain

  • Dry socket

  • Nerve damage


As with any surgery, it is important to take care of yourself post-operation. Once your wisdom teeth are surgically removed, there are several key steps to follow. Adhere to the instructions provided to you by your oral surgeon to reduce your chances of infection and/or dry socket. 

Here are some after-care tips:

  • Keep your head above your legs. Elevate your head with an additional pillow when sleeping.

  • Stick to a cold liquid diet for one to two days.

  • Start salt water rinses 24 hours after surgery (mix one teaspoon of salt into eight ounces of water).

What is Dry Socket?

Dry socket is a rare condition that can happen after wisdom teeth extraction. It is more common for those whose wisdom teeth were fully impacted. Symptoms of dry socket include:

  • Severe pain 24-72 hours after surgery.

  • An absence of the blood clot in the empty socket.

  • A bad taste in the mouth or particularly foul breath.

Food and Drinks to Avoid

  • Hot drinks (coffee, tea, etc.)

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Crunchy foods such as carrots, chips, apples, tree nuts, etc.

  • Rice and grains

  • Spicy foods

  • Hard candy

  • Granola bars

  • Acidic foods such as oranges, soda, tomatoes, etc.

Activities to Avoid

  • Strenuous, high-endurance exercise (for at least one to two days after surgery)

  • Smoking

  • Sucking from a straw (which may dislodge the blood clot)

  • Blowing balloons, inflatable tubes, air mattresses, etc.

  • Yelling

  • Spitting (which also can dislodge the blood clot)

How Long It Takes To Recover

You can reasonably expect to be fully recovered seven to eight days after wisdom teeth extraction. However, every person is different, so your individual recovery time may fluctuate slightly.

How Much Swelling is Normal?

Swelling and pain are to be expected after a wisdom teeth extraction. However, there are ways to subdue the discomfort. We recommend using ice packs for 24-48 hours after your operation. The best way to get relief from pain and swelling is to hold the ice pack to the side of your face near your jaw. Do this in 20-minute intervals for optimal relief.

If you’re worried about your wisdom teeth or want to learn how we at Durango Dental can help, book an appointment today. You can also call our office at 970-259-3112.