How Long Should You Take Painkillers After Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

Wisdom tooth extraction is a common dental procedure, but many people wonder how long they should take painkillers after the surgery. In this article, we will cover the important aspects of home care instructions following wisdom teeth extractions with general anesthesia. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a smooth recovery and minimize any discomfort.

Home Care Instructions

After your consultation, you will receive a prescription slip with five medications: ibuprofen, vicodin, antibiotic, anti-nausea medication, and an antibacterial rinse. On the day of surgery, you will also be provided with a bag containing a soft bristle toothbrush and a monoject syringe. These items are essential for your post-operative care.


Some bleeding is expected after surgery, but it should subside within an hour or two. Bite on the gauze pack placed in your mouth with firm, continuous pressure. When you get home, remove the gauze to eat and take the ibuprofen, then place it back in. Make sure the gauze is positioned behind the last molar over the extraction site and bite down to apply pressure.

Remember to sit upright and avoid spitting or expectorating while biting on the gauze. If there is residual bleeding, it is usually a small amount and not cause for alarm. You may notice dissolvable sutures in the surgical site, which help minimize bleeding and aid in healing. If any sutures become loose or dislodged, simply remove them.


To promote healing and avoid complications, it is crucial to reduce physical activities that may induce swelling or bleeding. Avoid exercise, sports, and going to the gym for five days after the surgery. Engaging in cardiovascular activities during this period can cause rebound swelling and bleeding, thus prolonging your recovery time.

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Additionally, refrain from smoking cigarettes for the first ten days post-surgery to minimize the risk of infections or dry socket. During the first 24-48 hours, it is advisable to have someone assist you when transitioning from a lying to standing position. Rise slowly and sit for a few minutes before standing to prevent lightheadedness or dizziness.


Swelling is a normal reaction after wisdom tooth extraction and typically peaks 2-3 days after the procedure. To minimize swelling, apply ice packs over the affected areas for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off on the day of surgery until bedtime. Please note that ice is not effective after 24 hours. For the following days, use the small ice packs provided by the office or blue gel hot/cold packs. Apply heat for 5-7 minutes on each side, starting two days after surgery. Remember to open and close your mouth and shift your jaw from side to side while applying heat.


Pain or discomfort is to be expected following the surgery. Take the prescribed ibuprofen within an hour of returning home to manage the pain effectively. If needed, use the vicodin on an as-needed basis, taking 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours. It is important to take all medications with food to avoid stomach upset or nausea.


Following surgery, numbness is common, especially in the lower jaw. The numbness usually subsides within 8 hours, but it may take longer in some cases. If you experience prolonged numbness, you might perceive difficulty in swallowing, but it is important to know that you still have the ability to swallow. Take small, slow sips of fluid while tilting your head back slightly. For upper jaw procedures, numbness lasts 2-4 hours. If you have any concerns about numbness, contact our office.

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Ensure that you have all the prescribed medications filled immediately. Take the IV antibiotic given to you at the office, and begin the prescribed antibiotic the night after surgery. Remember to take all medications with at least a glass of water and consume soft foods. If you experience any side effects or nausea, discontinue the medications and contact our office. Allow at least 1-2 hours between medications and avoid taking them simultaneously. If you have difficulty swallowing pills, reach out to our office for assistance.


If you experience any nausea after the surgery, proactively contact our office. We can provide you with an anti-nausea medication that dissolves under your tongue and works instantly. Nausea may result from taking pain medication on an empty stomach or swallowing blood. Avoid taking any further medications until the nausea is under control. To relieve stomach upset, try antacids followed by bland food. If nausea persists, please contact our office.

Oral Hygiene

You can brush your teeth on the night of surgery, but avoid vigorous rinsing or spitting. Use the soft brush provided by the office for two weeks around the surgical sites. For all other areas in your mouth, you may use your regular toothbrush. Begin using the antibacterial rinse (Peridex™) on the fourth day after the procedure, including the surgery day in that count. Fill the syringe with the rinse and irrigate half of it into the lower right socket and half into the lower left socket. Make sure the tip of the syringe is down in the socket and flush it until it’s clean. Repeat this process twice per day. The rinse bottle should last approximately two weeks, so be sure to finish it all. After completing the oral rinse, you may start using warm salt water rinses.

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For the first day after surgery, stick to a liquid diet. This helps prevent accidentally biting down on your cheek or tongue while you are still numb. On the second or third day, you can gradually resume your normal diet. However, for the first seven days, avoid drinking fluids through a straw as the sucking motion may dislodge the blood clot and cause more bleeding.

To aid in healing, ensure you have a high-calorie, high-protein intake. It is important to avoid seeds, nuts, and popcorn for about two weeks. Stay hydrated by consuming at least 5-6 glasses of liquid daily.

Here are some food suggestions for the first two days following surgery:

  • Milkshakes (add fruit such as a banana)
  • Carnation® instant breakfast
  • Creamy soups and broths
  • Jamba juice (avoid seeds such as strawberry, raspberry, blackberry)
  • Yogurt
  • Applesauce
  • Ensure®/Boost® dietary supplement drinks
  • Jell-O®

For the following days, you can gradually introduce more solid foods, such as:

  • Soft-cooked pasta
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Pancakes/waffles
  • Steamed rice
  • Chili with melted cheese on top
  • Oatmeal/cream of wheat
  • Ice cream
  • Pizza

For the first three weeks, avoid popcorn, nuts, uncooked vegetables (such as carrots), and any other foods that may cause discomfort or hinder the healing process.

Other Instructions

Please leave your retainer out for about four days or until it feels comfortable to wear it again. Additionally, refrain from playing musical instruments, such as trumpets, saxophones, or horn instruments, for ten days after surgery.

If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact our office immediately. Visit 5 WS for more information regarding wisdom tooth extraction and other dental procedures.

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Remember, following these home care instructions diligently will help ensure a smooth recovery and minimize any discomfort.

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