While not everyone will have all four wisdom teeth, most people have at least one and understand the pain of having them grow in. Similarly, while many people opt to go through wisdom teeth removal, not everyone will do so. Regardless of your personal choice, caring for your wisdom teeth and for your mouth following removal is crucial for keeping your oral health in top shape. Here, we’re taking a look at how to care for your wisdom teeth in five different scenarios.

1. While They’re Erupting

When your wisdom teeth are growing in, caring remains relatively similar to your standard oral health routine. You need to make sure you’re cleaning your teeth twice a day, paying careful attention to the area around your wisdom teeth in order to ensure they don’t become infected. Wisdom teeth are surrounded by hard-to-reach spots, which can easily build up with plaque and bacteria if not cleaned properly. Make sure you’re using an antiseptic mouth wash and fluoride toothpaste for optimal cleaning. If you find that your gums have become inflamed, you can gargle with salt water in order to reduce inflammation and reduce any discomfort or pain.

2. If There’s Pain

Quite often, the ‘coming-in’ of your wisdom teeth can cause pain and you certainly won’t be alone if you’re clawing for solutions to solve this. While pain medication can be an easy solution, there are other solutions to prevent you from taking pain killers too regularly. Try using an ice pack to reduce swelling and inflammation, ultimately reducing the pain, or contact your doctor or dentist for further advice if this doesn’t appear to be working. They may suggest antibiotics if the area appears to be infected, or suggest having them removed surgically.

3. If You Keep Them

If you choose to keep your wisdom teeth rather than have them removed, you’ll need to take extra care with brushing them to ensure you get all of the stubborn bacterial build-up. This should include using a narrow-headed toothbrush in order to get to hard-to-reach places, or you could opt to invest in an irrigator. The saline solution is safe to use orally and will make sure that all debris is cleaned out.

4. After You Have Them Removed

Immediately after having your wisdom teeth removed, it’s likely that your surgeon will suggest a cleaning regime for you to follow. If you’re unsure, this usually tends to be avoiding brushing your teeth for the first day and avoiding the surgical site for three days. You’ll be given specific instructions for changing the gauze given to you following surgery, which usually involves changing the gauze every 30-45 minutes depending on whether the area is still bleeding. Some blood is normal, but if it’s still bleeding relatively heavily after 24 hours, you should contact your doctor.

5. While You’re Healing

After the first few days, you can usually return to your normal teeth cleaning routine, but there are a few things you can to ease discomfort while the area is healing. This includes using softer bristled brushes, rinsing your mouth with salt water to help clean your teeth between brushing and reduce inflammation, and consider using an irrigator for a softer clean at the surgery site. Avoid water flossers, however, as this can reopen the wound.

Overall, caring for your wisdom teeth comes down to taking care of the area properly and following the advice of your dentist or doctor. If you do choose to have them removed, make sure to pay attention to aftercare advice to give your mouth the best chance of healing quickly and fully.