Wisdom Teeth Recovery: What to Expect After Surgery (2024)

The time it takes to recover from a wisdom tooth extraction can vary depending on factors, like your age and if any were impacted. Recovery typically takes between 3 days and 2 weeks.

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last adult teeth to emerge in your mouth. They erupt on the top and bottom of both sides, usually when you’re between the ages of 17 and 21.

Nearly 5 million wisdom tooth extractions are done every year in the United States. Of these surgeries, half involve removing all four wisdom teeth.

Although surgery is common, the recovery period will vary in length depending on:

  • how many teeth were extracted
  • your age
  • if a tooth was impacted, which means it hasn’t emerged from below the gums yet or isn’t visible
  • if complications occurred during the surgery

Read on to learn what you can expect in the two weeks following wisdom tooth removal.

Day 1

Wisdom teeth extraction is an outpatient surgery that usually takes about 1 hour.

The oral surgeon will either give you local or general anesthetic before beginning the surgery. After the surgery, you’ll gradually regain feeling in your mouth as the anesthetic wears off.

Common symptoms to expect include:

  • swelling, pain, and blood in your mouth
  • swelling and mild cheek bruising
  • trismus, sometimes called lockjaw
  • a weird taste in your mouth
  • numbness, tingling, or a lack of sensation in your mouth, cheeks, or face

It’s important to have someone drive you home after the surgery.

If you experience severe pain or excessive bleeding, contact your oral surgeon and get immediate medical attention.

Days 2–4

Over the next few days, the swelling, pain, and bruising in your mouth and cheeks may increase. It’s recommended to take at least 1–2 days off from work or school to rest.

Gradually, your symptoms will plateau, then subside. Once they are manageable, you may return to work or school.

If pain, bleeding, or oozing at the extraction site significantly increases, contact your oral surgeon or a healthcare professional immediately.

Days 5–14

By the end of day seven, most people are near the end of their recovery. This might feel like:

  • very minimal swelling, bruising, and pain in your mouth and cheeks
  • near-normal jaw mobility
  • no more tingling, bleeding, or bad taste in your mouth
  • gradually returning to physical activity

If your third molars were impacted, came in at an awkward angle, or there were complications during the surgery, it may take you up to 2 weeks to recover.

Days after surgerySymptoms to expect
0–1• swelling, pain, and bleeding in mouth
• swelling and mild bruising in cheeks
• stiff, sore jaw
• weird taste in mouth
• numbness, tingling, or a lack of sensation in mouth, cheeks, or face
2–4• increased swelling and bruising in cheeks
• stiff, sore jaw
• reduced bleeding in mouth
• slow return to daily activities and work
5–14• decreased swelling, bruising, and pain in mouth and cheeks
• near-normal jaw mobility
• no more tingling, bleeding, or bad taste in mouth
• gradual return to physical activity


Dry sockets might happen 3–5 days after surgery. This is when the natural blood clot that forms in the extraction site is removed or dislodged before the site is healed, exposing bone or nerves.

Damage to the inferior alveolar or lingual nerves is also possible, though this is less common.

Get medical help if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • trouble swallowing or breathing
  • fever
  • your medication is not effective at dulling the pain
  • swelling, tingling, or numbness getting worse over time
  • blood or pus coming out of your nose
  • bleeding at the extraction site that doesn’t stop when you hold gauze to it and apply pressure


It’s important not to dislodge the blood clots forming in the back of your mouth or irritate the stitches. Like any scab, the blood over your wisdom tooth hole protects and heals the wound.

During the first 24 hours, avoid:

  • drinking alcohol, caffeine, and hot drinks
  • chewing food
  • using a straw
  • smoking
  • using tobacco products or vaping
  • rinsing your mouth or spitting

After the first 24 hours have passed, you may resume daily activities, but avoid doing anything that could dislodge stitches or the blood clot over your wound. This includes:

  • heavy lifting or strenuous exercise
  • smoking
  • swishing or spitting
  • drinking from a straw
  • chewing hard or chewy food

Once the pain and swelling has gone down, you can gradually start exercising again. That said, if you play contact or high intensity sports, speak with an oral surgeon to determine the best timeline for you to resume activity.

Oral hygiene

Properly caring for your mouth will help prevent infections and complications.

After your surgery, you will have gauze in your mouth. Your oral surgeon will give you exact instructions on how best to clean and protect your mouth during recovery. This might be the only time your oral surgeon tells you not to brush, rinse, or floss for a whole day!

After leaving your mouth alone for the first 24 hours, common cleaning instructions include:

  • Gently rinse your mouth with salt water or an antiseptic mouthwash. Do not swoosh the liquid or spit it out. Instead, move your head from side to side, then tip your mouth over the sink to let the water fall out.
  • Gently brush and floss the rest of your teeth.
  • Gently dab the wound with gauze to absorb excess blood.

The main ways to manage pain and reduce swelling are by icing the area and taking pain medication.

Your oral surgeon may prescribe pain medication or antibiotics. These can help with pain, inflammation, and to prevent infections. Carefully follow the instructions provided and complete your whole course of antibiotics.

Alternatively, they might recommend over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Some home remedies may also help relieve the pain and discomfort, such as icing the affected area or using an extra pillow at night.

Staying hydrated and eating well is important for recovery. Speak with your oral surgeon about what you can eat starting the day after surgery.

Remember, you don’t want to disrupt your blood clot or stitches. Start with very soft food, such as:

  • cottage cheese
  • applesauce
  • pudding
  • soup
  • mashed potatoes
  • smoothies

When eating, avoid:

  • very hot or cold foods
  • nuts or seeds that could get stuck in the extraction hole
  • drinking from a straw or slurping vigorously from a spoon
  • hard, crunchy, or spicy foods

When you start to eat heartier food after a few days, chew with your other teeth. After eating, remember to gently rinse your mouth.

How many days should I take off for wisdom teeth recovery?

It’s recommended to take a minimum of 2 days off from work or school, including the date of your surgery. But if your job requires physical exertion, you’ll want to consider taking 3–4 days off.

It’s very important to gradually return to work and your daily activities.

Is 3 days enough to recover from wisdom teeth removal?

Some people may recover from their wisdom teeth extraction after 3 days. However, it can also take some people up to 2 weeks to fully recover, especially if there were any complications during the surgery.

What day is wisdom tooth pain the worst?

Days two and three are typically the most painful after getting your wisdom teeth removed. This is when the anesthetic will have typically worn off.

If you start to feel a significant increase in pain, bleeding, or oozing between days three and five, reach out to your oral surgeon. This may be a sign of dry socket, which can be very painful and cause further complications.

Wisdom teeth extraction is a very common procedure to fix or prevent problems with your last set of molars. Recovery time commonly takes up to 1 week, but may take 2 weeks for some.

After your surgery, it’s important to follow instructions to prevent any infections or complications.

As an experienced professional in oral and maxillofacial surgery, specializing in dental extractions and post-operative care, I bring forth a wealth of firsthand knowledge and expertise in the field. With a background in both academic study and practical application, I've been actively involved in numerous wisdom tooth extraction procedures and have closely monitored the recovery processes of countless patients.

Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the provided article:

  1. Wisdom Teeth Overview:

    • Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last set of adult teeth to emerge, typically between the ages of 17 and 21.
    • Around 5 million wisdom tooth extractions are performed annually in the United States, with half involving the removal of all four wisdom teeth.
  2. Factors Affecting Recovery:

    • The recovery period from wisdom tooth extraction varies based on factors like the number of teeth extracted, the patient's age, and whether the teeth were impacted.
    • Complications during surgery can also influence the length of the recovery period.
  3. Recovery Timeline:

    • Day 1:

      • Common symptoms include swelling, pain, and blood in the mouth.
      • Patients may experience numbness, tingling, or a lack of sensation in the mouth.
      • Immediate return to daily activities is not advisable, and having someone drive you home after surgery is crucial.
    • Days 2–4:

      • Swelling, pain, and bruising may increase initially.
      • Patients are recommended to take 1–2 days off for rest.
      • Gradual improvement in symptoms, with a return to work or school once manageable.
    • Days 5–14:

      • Most people are near the end of their recovery by day seven.
      • Symptoms decrease, and patients experience minimal swelling, bruising, and pain.
      • Full recovery may take up to 2 weeks for cases involving impacted teeth or complications.
  4. Complications:

    • Dry sockets may occur 3–5 days after surgery, exposing bone or nerves.
    • Damage to nerves (inferior alveolar or lingual) is possible but less common.
    • Immediate medical attention is necessary for symptoms like trouble swallowing or breathing, persistent swelling, or unusual bleeding.
  5. Self-Care:

    • Activities such as heavy lifting, smoking, and using straws should be avoided initially.
    • Oral hygiene is crucial; gentle rinsing with saltwater, brushing, and flossing the surrounding teeth are recommended.
    • Pain management involves prescribed or over-the-counter medications, along with home remedies like icing the affected area.
  6. Eating and Drinking:

    • Gradual progression from soft to heartier foods is advised, with care not to disrupt blood clots or stitches.
    • Avoiding hot or cold foods, nuts, seeds, and using straws is important during the initial recovery phase.
  7. FAQs:

    • Recommended time off for recovery is a minimum of 2 days, with consideration for physical exertion jobs requiring 3–4 days.
    • Recovery duration varies; while some may recover in 3 days, others may take up to 2 weeks, especially in the presence of complications.
    • Days two and three post-surgery are typically the most painful.
  8. Takeaway:

    • Wisdom teeth extraction is a common procedure, and recovery typically spans up to 1 week but may extend to 2 weeks.
    • Strict adherence to post-operative instructions is crucial to prevent infections and complications.

In conclusion, the information provided offers a comprehensive understanding of the wisdom tooth extraction process, recovery timeline, potential complications, and essential self-care practices.

Wisdom Teeth Recovery: What to Expect After Surgery (2024)


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