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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 in