So how did having my wisdom teeth taken out go? Pretty well, but it won’t count as one of the favorite weeks of my life.
All of the advice and stories you shared were invaluable for keeping me from freaking out. Thank you so, so much. I’m going to share my experience and what worked for me below in the hopes that it helps a few other people.
Before you read the below know that I am not a doctor and I am only talking about my own experience here. I had two impacted teeth and my recovery wasn’t nearly as easy as some other people. If you are going to be getting your wisdom teeth out you should listen to what your doctor tells you to do. Also, some of the details below are totally gross so proceed with caution.
I made myself an ice pack device from socks (shown above). I heard about this homemade solution from a few sources but Jess from Hogwash sent me the best directions: buy knee-high basic tube socks (the kind without heels, I found a six pack in the mens department at Target). Overlap them at the toes and stitch two lines. The ice packs will fit in each side of the socks. The overlapped section goes at your chin and the ends of the socks are tied up over the top of your head. This means your chin will be comfortable and the ice will be held at just the right spots on your cheeks while a thin layer of cloth will protect your skin. I found a 2-inch overlap worked best. And DIY ice packs made using snack sized ziplock bags were the perfect size to slip into the socks.
I made DIY ice packs using Dawn dishwashing liquid. I don’t know if one needs to use Dawn specifically but I’d heard it from three places so I figured why mess with it? I’ve also been told you can mix a 25/75 mixture of alcohol/water to get a substance that is still a little pliable after freezing. I got four ice packs from a 14-ounce bottle of dishwashing liquid and triple bagged them in snack sized ziplock bags. (You’ll know if they leak because it will suddenly smell really fresh.) I also had bags of peas, official 6×6 gel packs and the smaller ice packs the doctor sent me home with on hand but I used the homemade ice packs tucked into my knee high sock device the most often. I also wore a hooded sweatshirt most of the week with the string in the hood cinched helped keep the ice snug to my cheeks and redistribute the weight of the ice packs. It was a very sexy look.
Lots of people recommended eating fresh pineapple in the days before the surgery because reportedly it helps prevent swelling. I ate a lot, about two whole pineapples. On the upside I had minimal swelling in the week after. On downside the pineapple irritated my gums and made brushing my teeth uncomfortable. You can also get Bromelain as a supplement, it’s the substance in pineapple that is supposed to help, but I have not heard stories from anybody on if this might work or not. I asked my surgeon about pineapple and she’d never heard of the advice. I wish I could tell you definitively if it worked but I don’t have any more wisdom teeth to take out. Also I don’t want to do this again.
Bring some tissues with you, you’ll drool in the car on the way home. It’ll be bloody drool. Yuck.
I brought a scarf with me so when I left the doctor’s office with big white ice packs strapped (that they provided) to my head I was able to wrap the scarf around it and sort of cocoon into my own uncomfortableness. Add big sunglasses and I could nearly pretend I was glamorous while waiting in the car for Scott to pick up my prescription and drooling on myself. I looked kind of like this but more miserable:
I considered wearing flats to the doctor’s office so I could just kick my shoes off later but I was afraid they might fall off while I was in the chair so I wore boots instead. Turns out they needed to attach three electrodes to me and one was meant to go on my ankle. They put it on my stomach instead. So my advice is to wear regular shoes. Or a cropped shirt. Your choice. My doctors also said lots of patients come in wearing pajamas. Smart patients.
I was put under for the operation and when I woke up I was not happy or loopy. I was cranky and groggy and had dry cotton shoved in my mouth. It was the worst part of this whole thing. They had this bear sitting in the recovery area. I wanted to punch this bear:
For most of the day after the surgery my tongue, lower lip and chin were numb. Sipping liquids was out of question but I needed to eat something and stuck to apple sauce and pudding for the first day. Anticipating a lack of clean spoons (we never have enough) I bought a pack of plastic spoons and found they were far easier to eat off of since they had a bit of flexibility and they didn’t get cold in ice cream. Also, if you get clear plastic spoons you can peer at the light coming through your spoonful of jello.
The worst part of having a numb mouth was that I could not loudly whine about how unhappy I was. The second worst was that my smile was uneven, one side of my mouth would not go up, and I could not complain about how I would have a lopsided face for the rest of my liiiiiife. (I was back to normal by 8pm.)
I read a whole bunch of stories and it seems like a lot of people stop and get food (Wendy’s Frosty) on the way home but I needed a good two hours before I stopped bleeding into the horrible gauze. More advice that I found both from people and the information packet my doctor gave me is that that you could switch to biting on a steeped and cooled black tea bags (the tannins help stop the bleeding) but I couldn’t get off the couch long enough to bother. I also couldn’t talk well enough to explain to my loyal manservant how to prepare it for me.
More good advice given to me: have your couch or bed area ready to flop into when you get home. I had pillows, blankets, remote controls and laptop all in position so I could get straight to the drugged out television watching stage. Also, use pillowcases and towels you are willing to bleed a bit on. I didn’t get any blood on anything at home but if I’d been asleep all day it might have been different.
I didn’t spend the first day asleep the way some people warned me I might, I was groggy from the medication but my brain wouldn’t stop going. I was chatting online with a friend and she actually said I sounded too alert and asked if I’d been traumatized. So, apparently, pain medications don’t turn off my brain. Good to know.
Rest of the week:
For the first few days I stuck to pudding, ice cream, green smoothie juices and soup. Cashew Carrot Ginger soup was very welcome. After that I tried scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes. (Did you know Bob’s Red Mill sells instant mashed potato flakes? It somehow seems more dignified than other sorts.) I also ate overcooked Annie’s mac and cheese but I wish I hadn’t, anything that needed even that bit of chewing was too much for me. A full week later and I’m adding polenta with spicy tomato sauce, more pureed soups and I’m wishing I’d thought to make and stock up on my own gravy. I’m also eating mashed cauliflower, mashed peas and mashed sweet potatoes. Basically I’m still afraid of solid foods. I had two impacted wisdom teeth and they had to cut into the bone on my jaw a bit to wrench one from me, so you might have a much speedier recovery than I.
I read so much about the dreaded dry socket that I followed all the rules very carefully – no sipping through straws (hard to remember), no smoking of anything (not so much a problem), no aggressive gargling, no blowing your nose (also hard to remember). I was even a little worried about swallowing too enthusiastically. But it turns out I was also a little too gentle in cleaning back by the sockets. During a followup visit my surgeon showed me that after a week you can put that little irrigator thing way back there and squeeze away using salt water or diluted mouthwash. It’s gross and interesting.
I found I still needed to use ice packs for swelling five days after my surgery. As I mentioned above my swelling wasn’t bad but it was determined to stick around.
If your pill schedule is on a six hour rotation try to hit the 12noon/6pm/12midnight/6am cycle so you’re not waking up at 3 a.m. to take antibiotics.
And lastly, try to get an awesome oral surgeon who includes a card for a free cupcake in the little bag of stuff they give you on your way out. Incentive for getting back to chewing things: