Over winter break, I had all four wisdom teeth removed and was entirely unprepared for the fact that I would be miserable, sore, and hungry most of the day. After about a week and a half of being lazy, I was finally feeling normal again. Here are the hacks I tested and my experiences with them, as well as some extra tips that I wish I had known before my recovery.
1. Pineapple Juice
After the TikTok trend of drinking 64 oz. of pineapple juice to eliminate swelling after wisdom teeth removal, I was incredibly optimistic in racing to finish my own half gallon of pineapple juice the afternoon before my surgery. Sadly, the only thing that came from it was an upset stomach and I was still left with a lot of swelling. There is actually a lot of science to back up this hack though! Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps the body to heal. In order to really see these benefits though, doctors recommend starting to drink pineapple juice every day for about a week before your surgery if possible.
2. Use a scarf or long sock to hold your ice packs
This was definitely the best thing I did! Being stuck in bed was a great time for me to catch up on some reading and not having to constantly hold my ice packs let me hold my phone or a book to keep myself occupied. Some other things I used to hold the ice were a hoodie (I tightened the strings with the hood up) and a stiff neck pillow. They do sell special ice packs that come with slings to hold them to your face, but tying a scarf around your head uses something you already have and can use again.
3. Sleep sitting up for a few nights
I found this tip in a lot of places online, and it really helped with my swelling. I could notice big differences between waking up after sleeping on my side and after sleeping sitting up. (I used a neck pillow to support my head.) Elevating your head like this helps to stop bleeding and swelling, while also preventing anything gross from getting on your pillow while you’re asleep.
4. Be prepared to be nauseous!
This is the biggest thing I would tell someone about to get their wisdom teeth out. The pain medication I was originally prescribed made me incredibly nauseous and I did not have anything on hand to help alleviate the nausea. Getting sick will dislodge the blood clots that are beginning to form and could possibly lead to a dry socket or infection. Make sure you have some ginger ale or coke to sip on, as well as some bland soft foods to eat (like mashed potatoes or soup) if you begin to feel nauseous.
5. Buy a large variety of soft foods to eat while you’re recovering
You are going to get sick of eating the same foods constantly for a few days, so have a few different types of flavors on hand, like both salty and sweet foods. (Stay away from anything spicy or sour for a little bit though! It could hurt if you eat these foods too soon.) One of my favorite foods I began to eat for dinner consistently was potato gnocchi. It’s a really soft type of pasta and is less likely to have little pieces that will get stuck in your extraction sites.
6. Ask for a few extra cleaning syringes!
Your surgeon will give you a syringe to clean your extraction sites with once you’re a little more healed. In my case at least, this syringe needs to be used for six weeks and there’s a lot that can happen to a piece of plastic before then. Get an extra or two at your surgery or follow-up appointment so that you’re not stuck with a dirty syringe if something happens to it.
Wisdom teeth removal surgery is daunting, and the recovery process is not easy either. If you relax and take care of yourself like you’re supposed to, you’ll be back to normal before you know it, and you’ll be glad that they won’t cause you worse pain later on. Good luck!