Wisdom Teeth Removal
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 quite grueling. It 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 readjust 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 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.”
Wisdom tooth removal is something that most people will encounter in their lifetime. While everyone’s experience is different, there are some things that you can expect after wisdom teeth removal. This guide will teach you some simple tricks and provide expert tips to help ease your recovery and help you sleep better.
How to Sleep Post Teeth Removal
After you get your wisdom teeth removed, it’s important to be aware of how you’re sleeping. Sleep and good rest is important to heal faster, but you can actually prolong your healing process if you’re not careful.
Take Your Medication
To start, make sure you take any medications your doctor prescribed. This is essential for two reasons: One, it will help fight off potential infection, and two, it will help you sleep at night if you’re feeling pain.
Hopefully, your dentist or oral surgeon prescribed you something strong enough to ease the pain, as Carla mentioned earlier. If not, Ibuprofen or Tylenol will help reduce the discomfort too. You can also apply an ice pack to your cheek if you have a combination of pain and swelling.
Keep Head Elevated & Choose the Right Position
After you get your wisdom teeth pulled, you’ll need to keep your head elevated for at least 36 hours at a 45-degree angle, even while you sleep. 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 lead to increased pressure and bleeding, inhibiting healing. Keeping your head at an angle also helps to reduce swelling, so you don’t look like a chipmunk.
Remove Gauze From Mouth
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 OK to take it out, which is normally around 30 minutes after surgery.
Follow Aftercare Instructions
In general, make sure you also schedule time to rest after your surgery, and not just when you’re supposed to go to sleep at night. If you strain yourself too hard after wisdom teeth removal, the healing process will only be more painful, meaning 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.
Combatting the Aftermath of Wisdom Teeth Removal
When a wisdom tooth is removed, some common symptoms may occur. We identify these common symptoms, along with medical advice from Mayo Clinic regarding best treatment practices.
- Pain: You can ask your medical provider for a prescription to help with pain management. Mayo Clinic also suggests a cold pack and an over-the-counter pain reliever to help manage your pain, such as Tylenol.
- Bleeding: Some bleeding is to be expected, with some oozing from the wound site. To reduce bleeding, avoid excessive spitting and use gauze to protect the extraction site and blood clots.
- Swelling and bruising: An ice pack is a quick way to tend to any swelling or bruising that may occur. Swelling typically lasts a few days, with bruising lasting a few days longer.
- Nausea: Nausea can be common after your procedure, so if you feel nauseous, sip some ginger ale and rest for a bit to give your body time to recharge and recover.
For the 24 hours immediately following your surgery, it is important not to brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, or utilize mouthwash. When you resume brushing, rinse with warm salt water every two hours and use extra care when brushing.
Be sure to avoid smoking for a minimum of 72 hours following surgery but longer if possible. Patients should also refrain from chewing tobacco for at least one week to not interfere with the natural healing process.
Be sure to contact your doctor should you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive bleeding
- Severe pain
- Prolonged, excessive swelling that lasts two or more days
- Pus in or around the socket
- Numbness or loss of feeling
- Blood or pus in nasal discharge
Foods to Aid in the Recovery Process and Support Sleep
The foods and beverages that you consume could hasten your recovery process. These foods and beverages can actually help aid in your recovery from wisdom tooth removal.
|Water: Water is your best friend after surgery, replenishing essential nutrients and giving your body the strength to fight infection. |
Ginger ale: The bubbles and mild flavor can help ease nausea and settle upset stomachs.
Gatorade or Powerade: These sports drinks are full of vitamins that can help replenish and strengthen your body to fight infection.
Milkshakes: Everyone loves ice cream, but this guilty pleasure is not so guilty after wisdom tooth removal because the creamy cold of the treat is very soothing during healing.
|Alcohol: You should refrain from alcohol for at least 48 hours immediately following your procedure.|
Acidic drinks: Acidic beverages, such as certain sodas or juices, can cause severe irritation to your wound and hamper healing.
Hot and cold beverages: Your mouth will be especially tender following surgery, so stick to lukewarm drinks and skip the hot coffees and teas.
Whichever beverages you choose, be sure to avoid using a straw so you do not risk dislodging blood clots or causing further harm to the extraction site.
There are also some foods that can help ease recovery.
|Yogurt: The cool, creamy texture of yogurt makes this healthy treat enjoyable, but the extra vitamins and minerals will also help aid your recovery.|
Applesauce: This sweet treat’s smooth texture makes it a perfect choice for post-procedure snacking. Plus, the vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin C, will help fight infection and speed up your healing.
Lukewarm soups: Blended soups like pumpkin, carrot, or tomato soup are rich in nutrients, while bone broth adds extra hydration.
Eggs: Scramble some eggs for a soft, easy-to-eat meal full of protein and Omega-3 fats to help with healing.
|Hard foods: Hard, chewy foods can put a strain on your extraction site and displace the blood clot.|
Spicy foods: Spicy foods can quickly cause irritation and prolong the healing period.
Crunchy foods: Foods that easily crumble, like potato chips, can all too easily become stuck in the wound, adding room for infection.
Grains and seeds: These also can become lodged in your wound and increase the risk of biting the inside of your mouth and adding to your list of ailments.
Additionally, there are also some items that better prepare the body for rest to help you sleep better.
- Almond milk: Almonds can agitate your wound, but almond milk is a soothing, refreshing way to provide your body with the hormone melatonin to help improve your sleep.
- Chamomile tea: A cup of lukewarm chamomile tea before bed can help fight inflammation and promote better sleep.
- Tart cherry juice: This specialty beverage is so effective at improving sleep quality that it is also used to treat insomnia.
Your medical provider can help advise on the best dietary plan for your needs after surgery.
Activities to Pull You Through the Recovery Period
Recovery after wisdom tooth extraction may not be the most fun time, but for many people every day, it is a necessary evil to ensure proper health. While you are recovering from your procedure, these activities can help keep your mind preoccupied and engaged with fun, entertaining activities that will not put a strain on your recovering body.
- Movies, audiobooks, and podcasts: These are easy ways to entertain yourself without putting any strain on your body. Curl up in front of a TV or grab a pair of headphones to tune into your favorite audiobook or flick.
- Puzzles: Puzzles are another low-energy activity that does not require a ton of movement and can be done right from the comfort of your bed.
- Video Games: As you begin to feel better, you can check out a new video game for a slightly more intensive experience.
- Read a book: This can be the perfect opportunity to catch up on your reading and dive into that new novel you have been pushing off.
Any activities that do not require a lot of motion and can be done from bed can help keep you entertained while waiting for your body to get back to normal.
When Can I Sleep on My Side After Wisdom Teeth Removal?
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 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
Best Pillows to Use After Wisdom Teeth Extraction
The right pillow after wisdom teeth extraction can make all the difference in the world for your comfort and could even speed up the recovery process. Medical experts at Mayo Clinic recommend that patients sleep on their back following wisdom tooth removal.
Back sleepers are best served by a pillow with anywhere from one to four inches of range when compressed. This keeps the head elevated and reduces neck strain by facing toward the ceiling rather than forward. The best pillow and mattress for back sleepers depends on a few factors, such as the material you choose. Pillows are available in several different materials, such as memory foam and latex foam, to meet your ideal comfort level. Your pillow and mattress firmness is another factor, with a medium firmness often working best for back sleepers.
An extra pillowcase is also a good idea to prevent any blood or fluid stains on your favorite keepsake pillowcase.
Additional Ways to Improve Your Sleep
There are a few other ways to help improve your sleep after wisdom tooth removal.
Modify Your Mattress Outfit
One tip is to modify your mattress outfit by investing in a temporary new bed setup.
Mattress toppers can be a great way to add support quickly. Instead of upgrading your entire mattress, you could instead choose a mattress topper as a more economical way to accommodate your post-procedure sleep requirements.
You can also use extra pillows to provide added support. A pillow below your knees can cradle your body for added support and also help minimize back pressure.
Implement a Weighted Blanket for Relaxation
Weighted blankets have increasingly become popular for their highly-touted health benefits. These blankets typically carry a weight of at least 15 pounds and have been widely reported to provide a soothing calm that promotes better sleep. Weighted blankets are also used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and stress.
For those who recently had wisdom teeth extracted, the added weight of the blanket does far more than just promoting better sleep. It can also help other types of sleepers adjust to sleeping on their backs, with the blanket’s weight gently reminding you throughout the night to remain on your back and prevent any extra, unnecessary movement. Available in several weights, you are sure to find a version today that works best for your post-extraction sleep.
Wisdom tooth extraction is nothing new, but thankfully, there are several things you can do to reduce your downtime and promote faster, better healing. From soft foods to lukewarm beverages, a few simple changes to your diet can help avoid unnecessary issues and help ensure a quicker recovery. It is also important to assess what other changes you can make, from activities to even your mattress, so you can enjoy not only a comfortable place to recover but also better sleep each night too.