Swelling after a wisdom tooth operation


Swelling after the wisdom tooth operation is completely normal and usually no cause for concern.

The more extensive the operation and the longer it lasted, the more likely it is. Since the surrounding tissue is heavily stressed and traumatized during the wisdom tooth operation, there is subsequent swelling as part of the wound healing.

For normal swelling after wisdom tooth surgery

When is the swelling to be expected?

The swelling usually occurs the next day. Increased fluid builds up in the injured tissue. This cannot be removed by the body as quickly and is part of the normal healing process. The swelling after the operation usually peaked after 24 to 36 hours.

The strength of the swelling

The strength and extent of the swelling depends on the extent and duration of the wisdom tooth surgery. The gentler and shorter the operation, the less the swelling will be.

In addition, the individual constitution of the patient also plays a role, i.e. the physical condition of the patient. Patients with weak connective tissue tend to have more swelling. The swelling can develop over the entire cheek on the affected side and reach the eyelid.
The fabric feels warm and the skin is tense. The swelling can lead to a restricted mouth opening, this must be observed and should be checked by a dentist if it is further restricted.

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Duration of the swelling

The swelling after the wisdom tooth surgery can last up to a week. It peaks within the first 24 to 36 hours.

If the swelling continues to get worse and feels firm after that, you should visit your dentist, as this could mean not just normal swelling but also inflammation.
In addition, the extent of the swelling and the duration varies from person to person and also depends on the patient's physical situation. Someone with poor connective tissue is more likely to have long and extensive swelling than other patients. By protecting the affected area and providing adequate cooling, the duration of the swelling can be reduced.

The swelling will go away by itself as it heals. If the wound is healing well, the swelling will go away. This should usually happen on the third day.

What can I do to prevent the swelling?

Swelling after the wisdom tooth surgery cannot be completely prevented. To reduce it, you should start cooling immediately after the operation.

  • For this you should use suitable cool packs and never place them directly on the skin, but always wrap a cloth around it, for example a tea towel, to avoid hypothermia and damage to the skin.
  • A damp and cold cheek pad for the first two days can also help, for example in the form of a cold, damp washcloth.
  • You shouldn't lie down flat, but rather place your head a little higher to avoid heat build-up between the affected cheek and the pillow.
  • Hot food and drinks should also be avoided for the first 36 hours.
  • In addition, taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as bromelain (Bromelain-POS®), a mixture of pineapple enzymes, can help.

Read more on the topic: Eating after a wisdom tooth operation

What can you do in advance so that the swelling does not become so severe?

To counteract swelling, you can start taking the homeopathic remedy Arnica three days before the operation.
Arnica is used for injuries and tissue damage and is said to relieve pain and swelling. It can be taken in the form of globules (5 globules 3 times a day).

In addition, you should start cooling immediately after the operation and take it easy on your body. It is important to avoid warmth, saunas, solarium and hot food and drinks should be avoided.
Some dentists give a cortisone preparation for swelling prophylaxis for major interventions and if necessary during treatment; speak to your dentist about this.

Treat the swelling

In most cases, swelling after the wisdom tooth surgery is unavoidable, as the surrounding tissue was heavily stressed and traumatized by the surgery.

However, cooling can have a positive effect on the extent of the swelling to a large extent and reduce its extent and duration. This also reduces the additional pain that occurs. It is best to take the prepared cooling packs with you to the dentist so that you can start cooling immediately after the treatment.

It is important to never place the cool pack directly on the skin or mucous membrane. The skin could be hypothermic and additionally damaged. It is best to wrap a cloth around it. You shouldn't cool continuously, but always take a break to protect the skin. Particular caution is required as long as the anesthesia is still effective and you would not notice any hypothermia.

Heat should be avoided in any case. Exercise should also be avoided in the next few days. The swelling goes down when the wound heals well, so it is important to ensure that the healing process is good and the wound should be kept clean. Excessive flushing should be avoided for the first two days, however, as otherwise the wound cannot close properly and inflammation can result.

Do decongestant drugs help?

To counteract and prevent swelling after the wisheist tooth operation, there are cortisone preparations (e.g. prednisolone) that can be prescribed by the dentist. These help to reduce the swelling in larger operations.
As a rule, however, these preparations are not needed and they are only used in major operations where greater swelling is to be expected.

There are also homeopathic remedies that are said to have decongestant and pain-relieving effects.

  • Various cooling ointments, such as arnica ointment or horse chestnut, are available in pharmacies.
  • Arnica is also available in the form of globules, which can be taken three days before the wisdom tooth operation (5 globules 3 times a day) to counteract swelling.
  • There is also bromelain (Bromelain-POS®), it is a purely herbal product and comes from pineapples. It can be taken immediately after treatment to prevent or reduce swelling. The enzyme bromelain breaks up protein molecules and excess fluid from the tissue can be transported away more quickly.

Home remedies

In addition to cooling with cool packs, there is also the option of using damp and cold cheek pads in the form of a cold, wet washcloth. A washcloth with cold quark can also be placed on the outside of the swelling.

A tried and tested home remedy is the medicinal plant arnica mentioned earlier in the text. As an ointment, gel or tincture, it has a cooling and analgesic effect. But camphor can also be applied in the form of an essential oil and used against swelling. The horse chestnut is also recommended for the treatment of swellings, the seeds of which contain aescin and promote blood flow and thus promote the drainage of accumulated fluid in the tissue.

Pathological swelling after a wisdom tooth operation

The swelling becomes hard

The swelling after the wisdom tooth operation should slowly start to recede from the third day onwards and the tissue should be soft despite tense skin. The swelling can feel warm and sensitive to pressure due to the increased blood flow, but should not harden or even be hot and very red. Especially if there is also general physical discomfort with a fever. This can be a sign of inflammation and impaired healing. A visit to the family doctor or dentist is advisable.

Read also below: Inflammation after wisdom tooth surgery

When do you have to go to the dentist?

As soon as the swelling hardens after the wisdom tooth operation or even persists for more than a week or continues to expand, you should visit a dentist to check the wound healing. A hardening or widening of the swelling is a sign of inflammation and impaired healing.
In addition, the pain after the wisdom tooth operation should improve after a week. Excessive and long-lasting pain can also be an indication of a disrupted healing process.

Learn more about this at: Pain after wisdom tooth surgery

If the swelling extends too far and the mouth opening is severely restricted, the airways can become narrowed and a dentist should be seen immediately. If necessary, other decongestant and anti-inflammatory drugs must then be administered.

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