Wisdom teeth removal is a common surgical procedure for teenagers to undergo. Over 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted each year in the United States. For most patients, it is the first experience with surgery of any kind, and is a fairly routine procedure. While it is ideal to have wisdom teeth extraction performed during the offseason, many patients can’t wait until they are out of training or for the season to end for surgery. Therefore, the most common question is just how long it will take them to get back to normal after their wisdom teeth are extracted.
The recovery time after wisdom teeth extraction varies depending upon the number of teeth extracted, the age and health of the patient, how complicated the surgery was, and whether they are upper or lower teeth. While every case will be different, we can offer general information regarding the length of recovery and how long should be allotted for healing to work out how to fit wisdom teeth surgery into your schedule.
Patients are encouraged to slowly return to regular cardiovascular exercise from days 3-5 after surgery. Often patients are able to return to running laps, sprints, or basic conditioning during this time. However, patients should not try to push themselves past their comfort level. Any increased pain or throbbing is a sign that the activity is too vigorous and should be toned down or stopped for the day. When performing exercise your blood pressure and pulse will increase, which can lead to increased bleeding, another sign that the activity should be stopped.
Within the first week of surgery, all contact sport where you may get hit in the face should be avoided. This includes any tackling drills for football, scrimmaging in soccer or basketball, or aggressive lacrosse playing, for example. This also includes activities such as the balance beam for gymnasts or pole-vaulting for track athletes, where a fall from height may cause increased discomfort.
Weight lifting often can be restarted by around the 5th day. You must be aware of the clenching and grinding that occurs when performing heavy exertion during lifting. The muscles of the mouth and face may still be sore, and this may cause pain if trying to return too early to weightlifting.
By one week after surgery most patients are able to return to full physical activity. Occasionally the use of mouth guards or splints may cause some discomfort, and you should never return to full participation until all protective gear is comfortable and fitting well for the entire game.
Your oral surgeon will give a written list of instructions to follow during your recovery, and should be followed closely to ensure a quick and minimally painful postoperative course. Trying to return too early to help your team or not miss a meet will hinder your recovery in the long term, and should be avoided. While we all strive to return to athletics as quickly as possible after surgery, please ensure that you are recovered adequately before restarting sports activities.
Dr. Virginia Lee and her team would like to wish all of D.C. and surrounding areas the best of luck in the upcoming year’s contests!