Almost 85% of Americans need to get their wisdom teeth pulled sooner or later, and boy are we jealous of those who don’t need to go through the procedure. It’s a simple outpatient surgery, but the recovery can be quiet grueling, and can be even worse if you can’t manage to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is a major factor in recovery, so you can see how this situation can quickly become a downward spiral if you’re not getting any rest. The less sleep you get, the more painful the healing process becomes, which makes it harder to sleep, and the cycle continues.
Our Slumber Yard team member Carla actually recently got her wisdom teeth pulled. When we asked her about her sleep experience post procedure, this is what she had to say.
“Be prepared to re-adjust the way you’re eating, because you can basically only have liquids and soft foods like yogurt and pudding. I tried noodle soup, but I stayed away after I got a noodle stuck in the holes where my wisdom teeth were. Because you’re eating differently, it might affect your sleep schedule. For the first couple of days I had a migraine from the surgery and an aching jaw, so it made it more difficult to fall asleep. But the first two days I did nap a lot. I’d say I got around the recommended six to eight hours of recommended sleep over the days. I’ve heard from others that they’ve slept much more though, especially if your dentist puts you on pain pills stronger than Tylenol. Yawning hurt for about a month, too, so be prepared for that.”
After you get your wisdom teeth pulled, you’ll need to keep your head elevated for at least the first 36 hours at a 45 degree angle, even while you sleep. The reasoning for this is that the elevation will help you recover faster because blood vessel tone (constriction of your blood vessels) and blood volume tend to increase near the wound when you’re lying flat. This can cause the wound to throb and can lead to increased pressure and bleeding, which inhibits healing. Keeping your head at an angle also helps to reduce swelling, so you don’t look like a chipmunk.
This next tip might go without saying, but you’ll want to remove the gauze in your mouth before you sleep so you don’t accidentally choke on it. Your dentist should tell you when you have the okay to take it out, which is normally around 30 minutes after surgery.
Medication is another way to help you get through the night without the pain constantly interrupting your sleep. Hopefully your dentist or oral surgeon prescribed you with something strong, like how Carla mentioned earlier. If not, Ibuprofen or Tylenol will help ease the discomfort too. You can also apply an ice pack to your cheek if you have a combination of pain and swelling.
Make sure you also schedule time to rest after your surgery. If you strain yourself too hard after wisdom teeth removal, the healing process will only be more painful, which means less restful sleep. So take a few days off work, lay low, and sleep whenever you get the opportunity. If you find it hard to fall asleep, try setting the temperature in your room between 60-67 degrees to lower your body temperature, and turn off all the lights in your room. You should even keep your phone face down so it doesn’t light up throughout the night. This ensures you’re in the perfect atmosphere to fall asleep.
Unfortunately, you will need to sleep on your back. Depending on your recovery time, you will need to sleep on your back for around three to seven days. It is not recommended to sleep on your side or on your stomach because it can squish your cheeks, adding extra pressure to the area. It will also direct more blood to the area via gravity. We can’t imagine that it would be very comfortable to sleep with an elevated head while on your stomach or side, either, so try to stick strictly to your back.
If you’re somebody who isn’t used to sleeping on their back, try arranging pillows around your head and neck to keep you comfortable and supported.
SEE ALSO: Best Beds for Back Sleepers
We recommend that you prepare for your wisdom teeth removal surgery and get a good pillow or two that will keep you comfortable and supported. The perfect pillow for a back sleeper will have a bit of loft to it, around the 1-4” range when it’s compressed. This will help to keep the head facing upward, not forward. Facing the head forward can bend and strain the neck.
Some good back sleeper pillow options that we have reviewed are the Lull pillow, the Layla pillow, or the Leesa Hybrid pillow. Feel free to check out our reviews on each of them, to see which one might be best for you. Pillows nowadays come in a variety of firmness and feel profiles, like memory foam, latex foam, or even the unique Purple pillow which is made of Hyper-Elastic Polymer.
We also recommend making sure that you have a temporary pillowcase for your pillows. It’s not at all uncommon to sometimes bleed on your pillowcase or on your sheets after your wisdom teeth removal. If you have white sheets, we have some tips on how to keep them white, even when it comes to blood.
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