Wisdom Teeth Removal Aftercare, Day by Day Instructions

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

We’re so proud of you for making it through the hardest part of wisdom teeth removal which was the surgical extraction. The procedure may be over but you still need to recover from the aftermath of it.

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This is a guide with day to day instructions for wisdom teeth removal aftercare. We’ll explain all of the dos and don’ts so that you can increase recovery and decrease complications.

First Day

The aftercare on the day of wisdom teeth removal is the most important. All of the instructions need to be followed “to the T” because non-compliance may have severe consequences.

The Dos:

  • Take all prescribed medications
  • Bite on gauze for 3 hours
  • Eat soft foods only
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Use a cold compress
  • Take a hot shower/bath

The Don’ts:

Pain management

You should take the prescribed medications before the numbness wears off. The goal is to stay ahead of the pain and not follow behind it. Be sure to follow the instructions on the labels.

Commonly prescribed pain medications:

  • Ibuprofen – NSAID for pain, swelling, and inflammation.
  • Acetaminophen – may be combined with codeine to increase potency.
  • Vicodin – very strong pain medication
  • Percocet – very strong pain medication


  • Amoxicillin – primary antibiotic
  • Augmentin – if sinus is involved
  • Azithromycin – if allergic to penicillin
  • Clindamycin – if allergic to penicillin
  • Penicillin – similar to amoxicillin

Swelling management

The facial swelling can be simply managed with a cold compress. If you don’t have one, you can wrap some ice cubes in a wet paper towel and place it inside of a ziplock bag. The cold will help numb the pain while the pressure will help reduce the swelling.

How to use a cold compress:

  1. Place over affected area.
  2. Alternate 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off.
  3. By alternating it’ll help prevent frostbite.

Stopping the bleeding

Using gauze after wisdom teeth extraction will stop the bleeding in due time. The pressure from biting into the gauze will slow down the bleeding and allow time for the blood clot to form.

Your dentist should’ve given you plenty of gauze and here is how to use them:

  1. Take 2 pieces of gauze.
  2. Fold them in half twice.
  3. Place gauze over the wisdom tooth hole.
  4. Bite down with firm pressure.
  5. Remove after 30 minutes.
  6. Repeat steps #1-5 until it stops bleeding or 3 hours have passed.

If you run out of gauze for whatever reason, you can use a black tea bag or even paper towel.

Assuming you’re healthy with no blood clotting disorder and not taking any blood thinners, the bleeding should stop after 3 hours. If it doesn’t stop, you’ve probably been rinsing, spitting, or drinking through a straw. All three of those create a lot of pressure in the mouth which can dislodge the blood clot that is trying to form.

Instead of biting on gauze you can try wetting a black tea bag and biting onto that. The tannins in the black tea have hemostatic properties, which can stop the bleeding.

How to use a black tea bag to stop persistent bleeding:

  1. Wet the black tea bag.
  2. Place it over extraction site.
  3. Bite with firm pressure.
  4. Switch out to a new one every 30 minutes.

If you’re unable to control the bleeding after 2-3 hours with the black tea bag, you should call your dentist. You have an official complication.


You have to eat in order to recover because if you don’t, your body won’t have the nutrients to heal. With that being said, there are some foods that you can eat while others you should avoid after getting your wisdom teeth taken out.

Foods you can eat:

  • Applesauce or pureed fruits
  • Soft fruits (bananas, avocados)
  • Juice but not too much of it!
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Warm (not hot) soups
  • Oatmeal, congee, porridge
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Smoothies
  • Dairy (Cottage cheese, milk, yogurt) 
  • Soft cooked pasta or noodles
  • Fish
  • Pudding 
  • Mashed potatoes 
  • Ice cream or frozen yogurt

Foods you should avoid:

  • Seeds (chia seeds)
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc)
  • Granola
  • Steak
  • Hard foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Acidic foods
  • Soda
  • Alcohol (beer, wine, liquor)
  • Coffee

In case there were any confusion, if you need to eat or drink, you should remove the gauze from your mouth before doing so. You can put a new piece of gauze back in after you finish.


For the rest of the day you should focus on healing and recovery. Hopefully you’ve taken the day off from work so that you can recuperate. If you’re able to get some extra sleep that would be perfect, if you don’t want to, relaxing with some at home movies are also good.

What you shouldn’t do is partake in any strenuous activities which include exercising, cardio, or heavy lifting. Basically, any activity that will get your heart pumping may make the extraction socket bleed more. Aside from that, you’re probably worn out and lightheaded from the loss of blood from the surgery anyway. Take it easy today and get a good night’s rest.

Oral hygiene

On the first night after wisdom tooth extraction, you may brush and floss your teeth if you’re able to do it gently. If it is too tender or painful, you may be excused from it for tonight. Please remember that you’re not allowed to spit or rinse today! For that reason alone, it may be easier to just wait until the next morning to brush.

Day 2-3

The 2nd and 3rd day after the wisdom teeth extraction are significantly more pleasant than the first one. If you’re able to make it past these two days, it should be straight forward smooth sailing for recovery.

The size of the wisdom tooth hole may have gotten ever so slightly smaller. The decrease in size is probably not noticeable to you at this point.

The Dos:

  • Take all prescribed medications
  • Eat soft foods
  • Rest as much as possible
  • Frequently rinse with salt water
  • Resume oral hygiene

The Don’ts:

  • No smoking
  • No strenuous activities
  • No spicy, acidic, and hard foods
  • Do not play with wisdom tooth hole
  • Do not play with stitches

Pain management

Continue taking the pain medication and antibiotics if given. The post-surgical pain usually peaks at around the 48 hour mark before it begins to decline.

The swelling should’ve mostly subsided at this point. Using a cold compress is usually unnecessary for the second and third day. The anti-inflammatory properties of the ibuprofen should be more than adequate for controlling the minor swelling.

Bleeding management

You may have been oozing quite a bit of blood during the first few hours after the wisdom teeth removal but it should’ve stopped by now. If you used the gauze properly you should not be oozing on either of these two days. You may get very small specks of blood here and there but that is normal.


Recommendation is to continue to eat soft foods. You may attempt to slowly introduce slightly harder foods each day. Be sure to eat nutritiously so that you have all the nutrients necessary to recover.


You may return to work as long as it is not physically demanding. There is no reason why you can’t go back to work if you have a desk job. The ones who we suggest that should take a mandatory additional day of bedrest would be those working construction or something similar.

Your recovery and physical condition also depends on the severity and number of wisdom teeth that you had taken out.

  • A single fully erupted wisdom tooth should barely impede your lifestyle.
  • Four impacted wisdom teeth removed at the same time may require an additional day of rest!

Oral hygiene

There is absolutely no excuse for you to skip brushing, flossing, and rinsing. You must resume all oral hygiene activities immediately. In fact, it is of utmost importance to rinse as frequently and vigorously as possible with salt water. That is especially true after each meal because you can get food stuck in the wisdom tooth hole.

How to rinse with salt water:

  1. Add a teaspoon of salt to 8 oz of water.
  2. Stir the mixture.
  3. Rinse vigorously for 2 minutes.
  4. Spit out and repeat as many times as needed.

Note: Some dentists like to give a syringe to help flush out and irrigate the socket but if you didn’t get one, there are alternatives to use. Although usually just rinsing with saline is more than enough.

Day 4-7

The next few days should be significantly better than the first three. The worst of the worst should be literally over. Recovery and healing should be on the uptrend from this point on. Most of the limitations are lifted from this point forth and a return to normalcy can be expected.

The wisdom tooth hole should still be there albeit smaller than the first day. That much you should be able to notice. You may notice some white stuff in the wisdom tooth hole but that is granulation tissue and is a part of the healing process.

The Dos:

  • Take all prescribed medications
  • Eat soft foods
  • Frequently rinse with salt water
  • Resume oral hygiene

The Don’ts:

  • No smoking
  • Do not play with wisdom tooth hole
  • Do not play with stitches

Pain management

The pain relievers are taken on an as needed basis but the antibiotics are mandatory.

  • The entire course of antibiotics must be finished if you were given them.
  • If the pain is not too bad, you may discontinue the pain medication.
  • Cold compress is not useful at this point.

What you should not be experiencing is worsening or throbbing pain. If you do, there may be a complication!


There should be absolutely no more bleeding because the latest you should’ve addressed that was day two. Tiny specks of blood here and there are still considered normal.


At this point you should be trying to resume a normal diet and eating what you normally do. It is ok if you want to stick with slightly softer foods for a little while longer. You should find it getting less cumbersome and tiresome to chew with each passing day!

Resume normal routines

  • Work. If you’re still trying to play hookey, your dentist may call you out on it if your boss decides to call the office and ask.
  • Exercise. Run, lift, and do whatever it is you usually do to keep your body healthy!
  • Smoking. Towards the end of the week should be okay to smoke again if you do. The risk for a dry socket should be significantly decreased at that point.

Day 8-14

Okay, you should be a fully functional human being at this point and returned to your daily activities. Excuses will not be heard.

  • Medications. You should’ve finished all of the antibiotics and pain medication should no longer be needed.
  • Bleeding. There shouldn’t even be a speck of blood.
  • Stitches. The self dissolving stitches should be gone by the end of the second week. The non-dissolvable ones will need to be removed by your dentist.
  • Nutrition. There should be zero restrictions on what you can eat.
  • Oral hygiene. No excuses if you’re trying to slack off on this!
  • Work. You should’ve been at work a long time ago.
  • Physical activity. Back to your normal routine.

The wisdom tooth hole should be getting smaller with each passing day. In fact, for those who are healthy and have faster healing, the hole may just be a small pinpoint. If you’re no longer getting food stuck in the socket, you can stop the salt water rinsing.

Day 15-30

If you’re still looking for sympathy from your significant other or your mother, none will be given. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be fully functional and fully recovered at this point. This is beyond the point of even encountering any potential complications. By our standards, there is no more wisdom teeth removal aftercare left to do.

The size of the wisdom tooth hole should be fully closed by the end of the 4th week. Salt water rinsing is no longer necessary but it is still a good mouthwash if you like using it.

When to see a dentist

These are all potential complications which may result if you did not follow the directions properly.

  • Persistent bleeding. If you’ve been biting on gauze for 3 hours and then another 3 hours with a black tea bag but there is no improvement, you’ve a complication. You may have an undiagnosed blood clotting disorder. Call your dentist immediately.
  • Worsening pain. Pain will peak around the second or third day but should decline from there. If your pain is increasing after the third day, there is a good chance you may have developed a dry socket.
  • Presence of pus. If you see white fluids oozing out of the wisdom tooth hole, you’ve an infection. Although this is unlikely to happen if you’ve been taking your antibiotics as directed. This is more likely if you weren’t given any.
  • Extraction socket feels sharp. If the wisdom tooth hole feels sharp when you stuck your tongue in it you may have a sharp bony spicule. This will need to be smoothed down by your dentist because your body is not remodeling the bone correctly. It should be a quick adjustment taking less than 5-10 minutes!

Hopefully we’ve answered all of your questions in regards to wisdom teeth extraction aftercare. In case you had anymore doubts, you can check out our article on what a healthy wisdom tooth hole is.


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