Wisdom teeth removal, while it is a fairly routine procedure in most cases, is still surgery, and proper post-operative care is crucial to a full and complication-free recovery. Dr. Emery and Dr. Ryan often get asked about how recovery from wisdom teeth removal affects participation in sports and other activities.

The details of the care you will need and the length of your recovery depend largely upon individual circumstances, such as the number of wisdom teeth you’re having removed, your general state of health and the relative difficulty of your particular procedure. However, there are some general guidelines that can help give you an idea of what to expect after surgery and how long you should wait before you resume normal activities, such as sports, after wisdom teeth removal.

Physical Activity Limitations: The First 24 Hours

After wisdom teeth removal, physical activity must be strictly limited for the first 24 hours. Strenuous exercise and work are to be avoided, as is bending over or heavy lifting. These restrictions apply without regard to the number of wisdom teeth removed or the difficulty of the procedure.

Even in the case of a very simple extraction, any activity that raises the blood pressure during this period can interfere with the initial phase of healing, making it difficult to control bleeding from the extraction site or sites and possibly interfering with the proper formation and retention of the blood clots that are meant to seal and protect the socket as it heals.

Sports After Wisdom Teeth Removal: Take Your Time

As a general rule, patients are advised to refrain from sports after wisdom teeth removal for about a week. However, how long you need to limit activities depends upon a number of factors, such as the location of the teeth to be removed, their positioning in the jaw, whether they have become impacted and how much root development has occurred in the tooth at the time of removal. These factors impact the complexity of the procedure, which, in turn, affects healing time.

Removing upper wisdom teeth can be a bit less traumatic than removing lower ones, so patients who have had an upper wisdom tooth extraction may be able to begin light physical activity after about five days. However, if that activity produces throbbing, pain or bleeding, patients would be wise to refrain from further exercise for a few more days, then ease into activities gradually as tolerated.

Sports and Wisdom Teeth Removal

Returning to sports after wisdom teeth removal can be a longer process when the teeth in question are lower ones. Physical activity should be limited for about ten days, especially if both lower wisdom teeth are removed, since the lower jaw bone is typically more dense than the top, taking longer to heal. In cases where surgery is complex, such as when bones must be cut to remove teeth, patients may need to avoid sports after wisdom teeth removal for longer than 10 days to ensure proper healing.

Dr. Ryan and Dr. Emery can offer more specific guidance on how long you will need to refrain from sports after wisdom teeth removal after a thorough evaluation of your particular circumstances. However, it is safe to assume that you will be out of commission for at least a week or two after wisdom teeth removal. Following those restrictions is very important to ensuring proper healing and avoiding complications. If you’re on a sports team and aren’t having acute problems with your wisdom teeth, waiting for the off-season to schedule your procedure is a much better bet than putting yourself at risk by rushing recovery for the sake of getting back in the game more quickly.

Learn more about the wisdom tooth removal procedure by downloading the completely free eBook: Your Smart Guide To Wisdom Teeth Removal. If you would like to schedule a wisdom teeth removal consultation, contact our office in Washington DC at (202) 386-7100.