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How to Reduce Swelling After Wisdom Teeth Extraction

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Key Takeaways:

  • Swellings are inevitable responses to wisdom teeth removal surgery. But you can reduce the pain it causes by following the recommended tips in this article
  • Apply a cold compress, like an ice pack, on your cheek to constrict blood flow and prevent hemorrhaging in that area
  • Avoid chewing on hard foods for a while to avoid adding pressure to the swollen area. Doing so disrupts the healing process

It is natural for your cheeks to swell after removing your wisdom tooth. Your body needs to heal after the procedure, and the swelling is a natural response to the healing process. 

Fortunately, you can reduce the swelling and the pain it causes. All you have to do is to follow the specific directions in this article and visit your dentist if the swelling persists. 

What Is Wisdom Teeth Extraction?

Wisdom teeth extraction is a common oral surgery procedure that involves removing one or more wisdom teeth from the back of the mouth. The procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area around the teeth to minimize pain and discomfort.

During the extraction process, the dentist or oral surgeon will make an incision in the gum tissue and remove the tooth from its socket in the jawbone. The length and complexity of the procedure depend on the number, position, and condition of the wisdom teeth, as well as the individual’s age, health, and other factors.

While wisdom teeth extraction is generally safe and effective, it can cause swelling in the days following the procedure. Swelling occurs as a natural response to tissue injury, as the body sends extra blood and fluid to the affected area to promote healing. In the case of wisdom teeth extraction, swelling can affect the cheek, jaw, and neck areas, and may last for several days to a week.

The severity and duration of swelling after wisdom teeth extraction can vary depending on several factors, including the extent of the procedure, the individual’s age and health, and the post-operative care taken. However, most patients can expect some degree of swelling, discomfort, and bruising in the first few days after the procedure.

Causes of Swelling After Wisdom Teeth Extraction

Swelling after wisdom teeth extraction occurs due to a combination of biological processes and other factors. When the tooth is removed from the socket, the underlying bone and soft tissue are exposed to trauma and inflammation, which triggers a series of healing responses in the body.

Specifically, the body sends extra blood and fluid to the area to nourish and protect the tissues, which can cause swelling, redness, and warmth. The body also releases white blood cells and other immune cells to fight off potential infection and promote tissue repair.

In addition to these natural processes, several other factors can contribute to swelling after wisdom teeth extraction. These include:

  • Oral surgery techniques: The type and extent of surgical techniques used during the procedure can affect the amount and duration of swelling. For example, techniques such as bone removal, flap creation, or sectioning may cause more trauma and swelling than simple extractions.
  • Personal health habits: Certain lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption, or poor oral hygiene can impair the body’s natural healing ability and increase the risk of infection or inflammation.
  • Individual variability: Each person’s body reacts differently to injury and healing, which can lead to variations in the severity and duration of swelling after wisdom teeth extraction.

What Helps Swelling Go Down After Wisdom Tooth Extraction? 

Swelling after a wisdom tooth extraction can take some time, but you will get better within two to three days. A vital element that helps with swelling is applying cold and hot compresses at the right time.

Apply the compresses to the cheek area where the surgery happened. That is where the swelling occurs the most. Please hold it as much as you want and do this repeatedly until the swelling goes down. 

However, you shouldn’t hold it for too long against your skin. Doing so will cause uncomfortable sensations on your skin.

Ways to Reduce Swelling After Tooth Extraction 

Before you start, it is essential to note that you shouldn’t apply ice or hot water directly to your skin. Doing so will hurt your skin because they are high temperatures. 

Instead, wrap a cloth around some ice or use an ice pack as your cold compress. Likewise, use a heating pad as your hot compress or deep a towel in hot water and press it to your cheek.

Take the following process to reduce swelling after your wisdom tooth extraction.

  • Apply an ice pack. Get some ice packs or frozen peas and apply them to the outer area of the surgical site. Doing so allows the blood to constrict and helps reduce the swelling
  • Sit upright and ensure your head is above your heart. When about to lie down, use more than enough pillows to ensure your head is elevated. Head elevation helps to minimise the swelling. 
  • Since the swelling comes with discomfort and sometimes pain, take over-the-counter (OTC) medication for relief. 
  • Apply a warm or hot water compress at intervals.
  • Taking a glass of warm salty water and rinsing your mouth with it every morning helps minimise the swelling and, at the same time, eliminates harmful bacteria. While doing this, avoid spitting.

You can follow this timeline when applying cold and heat:

  • Within 24 hours — Apply ice packs to the area for 15 – 20 minutes. Then take it off for another 15 – 20 minutes. Repeat.
  • Between 24 – 48 hours — Take time off. No heat or ice
  • After 48 hours — Apply heat to the area. Use about 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off

Do’s and Don’ts After Wisdom Tooth Extraction 

Wisdom tooth extraction is an essential surgery. It’s why you must be careful to avoid bringing complications upon yourself after it.


After your wisdom tooth extraction, do the following:

  • Raise your head to reduce the intensity of swelling you will experience.
  • Place an ice pack or wrap on your cheek for the first two days. This reduces swelling as well as the pain you’ll feel.
  • Liquid and soft food are highly recommended, as hard substances will hurt you while chewing.
  • Bite down on your cotton gauze to stop bleeding.
  • Take the medications your dentist prescribed to you.
  • Practice exercises like opening and closing the mouth at intervals
  • From the second day, brush your teeth. Be careful not to injure your surgery sites
  • In case of the occurrence of fever, call the attention of your doctor.
  • Rest well enough 
  • Ensure to take enough water daily.


After your wisdom tooth extraction, there are also things you should not do because they will disrupt the healing process. These do not do the following:

  • When trying to rinse your mouth, please do not do this vigorously; otherwise, it will hurt you. Instead, use salt water for the rinsing when necessary
  • Avoid eating hard and crispy or sharp food like hard nuts and chewy candy
  • Please resist the urge to poke the open gap with your tongue since it may provoke bleeding.
  • While taking in fluids into the body, do not use a straw to drink
  • Stay away from alcohol during this period because it prevents blood clotting. You’ll need the blood forming in the extraction region to clot so it stops bleeding.
  • Do not take aspirins as they cause the thin formation of blood.
wisdom tooth swelling

Other Ways to Manage Swelling After Wisdom Teeth Extraction

In addition to the main steps and techniques discussed in the previous section, there are several other ways to manage swelling after wisdom teeth extraction and support the healing process. These include:

Recognizing signs of complications: While swelling after wisdom teeth extraction is normal, excessive or prolonged swelling can indicate a complication such as infection or dry socket. Symptoms of complications may include severe pain, bleeding, pus, fever, or foul odor. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your dentist or oral surgeon immediately.

Taking over-the-counter pain relief medication: Over-the-counter pain relief medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help to reduce swelling and relieve pain after wisdom teeth extraction. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage and frequency, and avoid taking aspirin, which can increase the risk of bleeding.

Staying hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids such as water, juice, or broth can help to flush out toxins and promote healing after wisdom teeth extraction. Avoid drinking through a straw, as the suction can dislodge the blood clot and cause dry socket.

Using warm water: Rinsing the mouth with warm water can help to soothe the tissues and promote healing after wisdom teeth extraction. Be gentle and avoid spitting forcefully, as this can dislodge the blood clot and cause dry socket.

Avoiding alcohol and tobacco: Avoiding alcohol and tobacco products, such as cigarettes or chewing tobacco, can help to minimize irritation and promote healing after wisdom teeth extraction. Tobacco products can also increase the risk of infection and impede the body’s natural healing process.

Recovery Timeline for Wisdom Teeth Extraction

The recovery timeline for wisdom teeth extraction varies depending on the extent of the procedure, the individual’s age and health, and other factors. In general, however, the following timeline provides a rough estimate of what to expect:

First 24 hours: Swelling and discomfort are most pronounced during the first 24 hours after wisdom teeth extraction, so it’s important to apply ice packs, compression, and elevation as directed. Rest and avoid strenuous activity, and eat soft, cool foods such as ice cream or yogurt.

Days 2-3: Swelling and discomfort should start to subside after the first day, but it’s still important to continue the main steps and techniques for reducing swelling. Gradually introduce warmer foods and beverages, and rinse the mouth with warm salt water as directed.

Days 4-7: Most of the swelling and discomfort should be gone by the fourth day, but some residual tenderness or bruising may remain. Avoid hard or crunchy foods, and continue to rinse the mouth with warm salt water as directed. Gradually resume normal activity as directed by your dentist or oral surgeon.

Days 7-14: The extraction site should be mostly healed by the end of the second week, but some minor discomfort or sensitivity may persist. Avoid smoking, alcohol, or other irritants, and continue to brush and floss gently around the extraction site. Attend any follow-up appointments as directed, and report any signs of complications.

Prevent Wisdom Teeth Swelling 

Are you aware that wisdom teeth are harder than any other teeth? So, precautions must be taken to avoid complications. 

  • Practice good oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene consists of brushing twice daily, flossing, and using mouthwash.
  • Drink plenty of water to flush foods and germs out of the gums.
  • Avoid sugary foods as they can get stuck in the gum, causing a build-up of bacteria. 

Reducing Wisdom Teeth Pain Before Extraction 

When wisdom teeth become impacted, they become very painful. While waiting for your extraction appointment, take good care to keep the tooth free from complications. 

  • Rinsing the mouth with a saline solution. A saline solution consists of warm water and salt. 
  • Avoid eating any food that tends to be trapped in the gum, such as sugary and spicy foods. 


How Long Does The Swelling Last After Wisdom Teeth Removal? 

The swelling typically lasts for the first three-five days. 

How Long Will My Cheeks Be Swollen After Wisdom Teeth? 

This varies with individuals but can also take three-six days.

How Long Will My Face Be Swollen After Oral Surgery? 

Your face will be swollen for about 24 – 72 hours after surgery, which will begin to reduce. 

What Is The Fastest Way To Reduce Facial Swelling? 

  • Get more rest
  • Increase your water and liquid intake
  • Adhere strictly to the drugs given by the dentist
  • Apply a warm compress to the site

What Are the Signs Of Infection After Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

The signs include a yellow or white discharge from the extraction site,  high temperature, bleeding, and consistent swelling and pain. 

Consult A Dental Clinic For Assistance

Swellings can get very uncomfortable and painful, especially when you want to chew or even speak. But there is no cause for alarm because it is only a natural response to the surgery you had. 

If the swelling still persists, even after you have followed all instructions, you should visit your dentist immediately. 
To know more about the recovery process of a wisdom teeth removal surgery, consult with a dentist from My Implant Dentist clinic. We are available to cater to your dental needs.

Written By: Dr Kent Tan
Edited By: Dr Zaheer Kadwa
Reviewed By: Dr Ealin Lee


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Dr. Kent Tan - Author Bio

Dr Kent Tan is the top dental implant and cosmetic treatment expert. On average, he performs 500 to 1000 dental implants yearly, making him one of the most experienced dental implant surgeons in Perth, Western Australia.

Dr Kent is a certified Invisalign provider and has helped many patients achieve straighter teeth with a transparent braces system. In addition, he is skilled in performing a wide range of cosmetic dental treatments such as teeth whitening, dental veneers and bonding.

Dr Kent graduated from the University of Queensland and then went on to lecture in dental implants. He furthered his qualifications by graduating from the Master Clinician Programme in Implant Dentistry in Los Angeles, USA. This additional education allows him to provide his patients with the best possible care.

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