If you plan to have your wisdom teeth removed, it helps to understand the postoperative phase, and when you can resume your normal activities -- such as sports and exercise. To minimize the risk of bleeding and other complications after surgery, physical activity should be avoided at first, then restricted to light exercise until fully healed. Your oral surgeon will provide you with personalized information, as healing and recovery time may vary person to person.
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Problems With Postoperative Exercise
Like any surgery, removal of a wisdom tooth, also known as a third molar, poses postoperative risks. After you have a tooth removed, a blood clot forms over the socket -- the space that held the tooth. If this clot gets dislodged, the bone and nerves get exposed, which can be quite painful. Called a dry socket, it can expose the jawbone and lead to infection. Physical activity raises your heart rate, which in turn raises blood pressure, increasing the risk of bleeding or dislodging this blood clot.
When to Avoid Exercise
In the few days after your surgery, you may be advised to avoid exercise altogether. This restriction may work for you, since you might feel groggy from the anesthesia, and may have swelling, pain and discomfort from your surgery. You might be taking painkillers and not able to drive. Also, you may not be able to eat as much as usual, and lack the energy to exercise. In this time immediately following surgery, you will be advised to rest and recover -- and that’s all you may want to do. But even if you feel ready, it’s best to avoid exercise in the days after surgery prevent the risk of bleeding and infections.
When to Restrict Exercise
If you are recovering nicely from a straightforward wisdom tooth extraction, within a few days you may be able to gradually add low impact exercises back -- such as walking. Most dental professionals recommend limiting strenuous physical activity for up to 10 days after surgery. Heavy lifting is also to be avoided, since it can increase blood pressure and bleeding risk. If the surgery was complex or bones were cut to remove teeth, sports and exercise may need to avoided or restricted for a longer time period. Check with your surgeon for individual guidance.
Warnings and Precautions
After surgery, listen to your body and do not try to push yourself too hard. Also, heed your surgeon’s recommendations about rest and restricted physical activity. If you do try to exercise in the first week following the wisdom tooth extraction, keep it light. If you experience a temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, pain that increases after 3 to 4 days and is not improved by pain medications, or pus draining from the surgery site, call your surgeon. Also call if you have red, hard swelling over the surgical site, or if you have bleeding that won’t stop. When you resume exercise, also call your surgeon or doctor if you feel weak or dizzy.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: Wisdom Teeth Management
- BMJ Clinical Evidence: Impacted Wisdom Teeth
- Contemporary Clinical Dentistry: Oral Health-Related Quality of Life Following Non-Surgical (Routine) Tooth Extraction: A Pilot Study
- Colgate Oral Care Center: Tooth Extraction And Dry Sockets