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Wisdom teeth and tooth removal

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 4 minutes read

Having a tooth out can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Here Healthwords walks you through the best ways to recover from the process of having a tooth out, and why so many people need to have their wisdom teeth removed.

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to grow through your gums, located at the very back of your molars. There are four wisdom teeth (one in each corner of the mouth) and usually begin to erupt between the age of 17 and 21. Many people do not have room in their mouth for these extra teeth and so when they begin to come out, they can often push against your other teeth, come out at a wrong angle or even not come out at all. When the tooth has failed to erupt due to it growing in the wrong direction, it is referred to as "impaction" and usually requires the tooth to be removed to prevent decay. However, they are also removed if they are causing pain, inflammation or infection. This usually happens due to food being trapped in pockets created around the tooth as it erupts, or the tooth is simply pushing against the other teeth.

Wisdom teeth are the most commonly removed tooth in adults and can have a longer recovery period than others due to their size and location.

What do I do about bleeding?

You may get a small amount of bleeding for the first few days. If the bleeding is persistent you should apply pressure to the area by biting hard on a rolled-up piece of gauze or clean handkerchief for 10 minutes. Make sure it is placed directly on the bleeding area. If possible, you should try to avoid rinsing your mouth for a further 12 hours. If the bleeding is profuse, or not stopping then you may need to be reviewed by your usual dentist or an emergency dentist.


Pain and discomfort are expected after tooth extraction and some swelling is to be expected. You should use simple over the counter pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen for the first few days until the pain subsides. Ibuprofen and paracetamol are the most effective forms of dental pain relief, however, if something stronger is required, you may try co-codamol (codeine and paracetamol) after speaking to your pharmacist.

What is dry-socket?

A dry socket is when the blood clot at the site of the tooth extraction does not form or is dislodged before the wound is healed. This clot serves to protect the bone and nerve endings at the bottom of the socket and allows new gum and bone to develop. When the bone and nerve are exposed, it can lead to intense pain that radiates along the nerve on the side of your face. This socket can also become inflamed and infected when food debris becomes lodged inside, adding to the pain. Dry socket pain usually develops one to three days after the extraction and cannot be treated with over the counter remedies.

If you begin to develop increasing pain, inflammation, swelling or suspect you are developing an infection, you should contact your dentist for advice regarding a review or further treatment.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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