How to Reduce Swelling After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Removing your wisdom teeth requires serious surgery. Due to the mistreatment your gums and oral bones face, after a few hours, it's normal to have swelling in your cheeks.
How to Reduce Swelling After Wisdom Teeth Removal
José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli

Written and verified by the doctor José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli.

Last update: 12 May, 2022

Your wisdom teeth usually appear between the ages of 16 and 29. Removing them should be based on the criteria of a specialist.

Generally, removing a wisdom tooth has to do with the fact that there isn’t enough room in your oral cavity.

Sometimes, when your wisdom teeth come in, they cause pressure on your molars and other teeth. This can cause pain and inflammation in your gums. They can even damage your nerves. As a result, it’s necessary to operate to extract them, according to information by the Mayo Clinic.

Home care should be done carefully. This is because a slight mistake can have dangerous results like an infection.

Inflammation is a natural reaction for your body when your tissues have been damaged. It’s normal for the swelling to show up around your mouth and cheeks. It can even show up under your eyes and around your cheekbones. Usually, it appears between 5 and 12 hours after the surgery. And, it can prolong for up to three or four days.

So, be patient! The swelling can be treated to minimize your pain and discomfort.

Remember to always follow your doctor’s recommendations to the letter. Also, you can choose one of the options we suggest below.

Apply ice or a cold compress to reduce wisdom teeth swelling

This technique is effective during the first 24 hours after the surgery. In addition, cryotherapy is a strong painkiller, according to this study conducted by the University of the Americas in Chile. If you want, you can even apply it before the swelling appears.

  • Wrap 10 ice cubes in a towel. You can also freeze a container with water or a special compress. The important thing is that it’s cold.
  • Gently apply it to the inflamed area on the outside of your face.
  • To prevent swelling in your skin, apply the compress for 15 minutes at a time. Then, let your skin rest for another five minutes.
  • Repeat in a few hours.

Read also: Alternative Uses for Ice Cubes

Apply hot compresses

The heat helps to reduce the inflammation in your muscles. But, you need to be careful that you don’t apply a source of heat to your skin that’s too hot. This study conducted by the University of Giessen states that, just as with cold, heat also can reduce localized swelling.

This technique is effective to reduce wisdom teeth swelling after the first 24 hours following the removal.

  • Choose a heat source. It can be a container you’ve filled with warm water (at a moderate temperature).
  • You can also use a clothes iron to heat up hand towels. Another option is to heat up water and soak small towels while the water is hot.
  • Test the temperature with your hand. Remember that the idea is to heat up the inflamed area from the outside, not to burn or injure it.
  • Apply it without putting pressure on your cheeks in the swollen area.
  • Keep the compress on for 20 minutes.
  • Take the compress off and rest for another 20 minutes.
  • Repeat the routine going through several cycles over two days.

Elevate your head above the rest of your body

Gravity can play in your favor. Keep yourself in a position that raises your head above the rest of your body. This makes the excess liquid caused by the swelling to go back into your bloodstream and reduces the inflammation in your gums, according to this study conducted by the University of Seville and the Complutense University of Madrid.

  • It’s recommended that you sleep half sitting up for the first two or three days.
  • Place some pillows below your head and try to lay down in a comfortable manner, relaxing the rest of your body.
  • Remember that you should never sleep on the wounded side, as it’ll make the inflammation worse.

It’s important that, after the operation, you rest for at least 10 hours per day for the next 48 hours.

Chamomile teabags

Chamomile is one of the most used herbs as a home remedy for inflammation, according to this study conducted by the University of Camagüey. You should do it a few days after the surgery.

  • We recommend heating up a few tea bags.
  • Then, when they’ve cooled a little, but haven’t completely lost their warmth, put them in your mouth. Then, bite slightly to let the liquid out.
  • Do this for 15 minutes, then rest for a minimum of half an hour before repeating this treatment.

Remember to never apply it directly on your wound. Similarly, you can drink a little bit of chamomile tea. It can be either hot or cold.

Other considerations

A woman laying in bed.
  • Don’t use mouthwash for the first 24 hours after removal. You can use it again once the wound stops bleeding.
  • Avoid eating solid foods. Be sure to eat a soft diet. This will reduce infections and avoid worsening the inflammation.
  • Additionally, you should avoid using a straw to drink, as you may feel discomfort.
  • Drink and eat foods at room temperature for the first 24 hours after the extraction.
  • Regarding medication, follow your doctor’s instructions. If you have any doubts, consult them.
  • Try to rest as much as you need to. It’s important that you take a couple days off from your job, school, or house chores.
  • Rest ensures that you’ll keep your blood pressure stable. This influences the successful healing of your gums.

To keep in mind

In addition to putting the above suggestions into practice, it’s important for you to rest properly in order to recover. Otherwise, it’ll take you longer to feel better. On the other hand, you must maintain good oral hygiene to avoid infections and complications.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.