Why You Get Swollen Cheeks After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Why You Get Swollen Cheeks After Wisdom Teeth Removal

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Wisdom Teeth Cheeks Puffy
©Dan Tautan/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve had your wisdom teeth out, the picture above probably looks familiar.

When I got my wisdom teeth out around ten years ago, our insurance wouldn’t cover all four teeth. Sadly, my family was a little short on cash, so my mom decided that I would get my top wisdom teeth out, then wait until the next year to get my bottom wisdom teeth out. That way, it wouldn’t cost us any money out of pocket.

Plus, I had the experience of getting my wisdom teeth taken out… twice.

Luckily my cheeks didn’t get swollen as badly the second time around.

If you want to know why dentists usually remove wisdom teeth, read the article Why Dentists Extract Wisdom Teeth

Why Your Cheeks Get Swollen After Your Wisdom Teeth are Removed

Swollen Cheeks After Wisdom Teeth RemovalYour cheeks get puffy and swollen after your wisdom teeth are removed because your body is going through a process that will help heal the damaged tissue.  Getting your wisdom teeth taken out can be a traumatic experience for your body.  It responds by trying to heal the extraction site as quickly as possible.  Inflammation and swelling helps this healing occur.

It is important to know that the swelling is a normal, healthy response that your body is mounting due to the trauma from the extractions.

How Long Will You Have Puffy, Swollen Cheeks?

The book Contemporary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery reports that swelling reaches a maximum anywhere from 24-48 hours after removal of the wisdom teeth.  One study has reported that cheek swelling after wisdom teeth removal peaks around 24 hours after the surgery (source.)  If the swelling is stillgetting worse three days after the extractions, it could be a sign of infection and you might want to give your dentist/oral surgeon a call.

Note that infections after routine extractions are rare. The oral surgery book listed above states, “The typical signs [of infection] are development of a fever, increasing [swelling] or worsening pain 3 to 4 days after surgery. Infected wounds look inflamed, and some [pus] is usually present.”

The puffiness and swelling will start to decrease approzimately three to four days after the wisdom teeth extraction and should completely subside about one week after the extractions.

It is normal to have more swelling in the mornings and then have it gradually subside throughout the day as you stand up and the fluid drains due to the force of gravity.

How to Reduce Cheek Swelling After Wisdom Teeth Removal

If you don’t want to look like a chipmunk after your wisdom teeth are removed, here are a few suggestions:

Dexamethasone for Relieving Swelling after Wisdom Teeth Removal1 – Ask the oral surgeon if he or she can get you some corticosteroids. There have been some studies (here’s one) that suggest that steroids can reduce cheek swelling after the wisdom teeth are removed.

The book  Contemporary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery recommends the steroid dexamethasone to control “postsurgical edema” (which means “swelling after surgery”) and had the following to say about this subject:

Dexamethasone is a long-acting steroid and its efficacy in controlling third molar postsurgical edema is documented.  This drug can then be continued in an oral dose of 0.75 to 1.25 mg twice a day for 2 to 3 days to continue edema control.

2 – Heat applied on the third day after surgery can help reduce cheek swelling. Be sure to use water that isn’t too hot – you don’t want to damage your skin!  Heating pads and hot water pads are good suggestions.

Don’t apply heat until at least the third day after wisdom teeth extraction.

3 – Keep your head elevated. If you keep your head elevated, it is harder for the fluid to stay up in your head due to the force of gravity.  If you spend a lot of time lying down in bed,  you may find that you have puffier cheeks!

Conclusion

Do you have any questions or comments about wisdom teeth removal and its associated cheek swelling?  If so, please leave them below in the comments section.

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158 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,
    I just got my wisdom teeth pulled on Thursday May 22 and my cheeks are still very swollen and it feels like my cheeks just keep getting bigger. I take my medication and put ice but I still have a lot of pain. How long will my cheeks be swollen and puffy for? And since I have pain does it mean it’s infected? And I can hardly open my mouth to eat.

    Help?

  2. Hi!
    I am 17 years old and have just got my wisdom teeth removed wednesday june 11 I am about two days in healing. I can kind of chew now but my cheeks are super puffy, especially the right one. Is it normal for one cheek to be bigger than another? Also, when exactly will this swelling stop? I am using warm compress and cold against my cheeks but it doesn’t seem to be helping Thanks!

    • Hi Arlesia – Sometimes it can take several days for the swelling to go down. It is normal for one cheek to be bigger than the other. For example, one of your wisdom teeth may have been buried deep in your bone, while the one on the other side may have been barely under your gums. Over time the swelling should go down. If it doesn’t, it would be good to contact your dentist or surgeon who removed the teeth. I hope that helps!

      • had 23 teeth removed dec20. 13 when I applied cold compress my cheeks felt swollen but went down I applied hot compress the swelling came back the dentist was very rude and acted like i didnt know what i was taiking about when he looked in my mouth he saw it and said he did not cut any nerve the assisant said it will go away in three months its now seven months the swelling is getting worst I am very concerned I also have jaw pain which he did not address when I have the dentures on I dont feel the swelling but when I try chewing the swelling gets worst so I just have liquids diet can u tell me why this is happening the gum under my cheek feels higher than the other parts I get a slight pain when I brush my gums not as much as before is that normal its now seven months

  3. Hi, I’m 19
    I got my four wisdom teeth removed all at once about 2 months ago, and I was wondering if it was normal for my face not to have returned quite to its normal size before the operation? There isn’t a MAJOR difference but my family and I can still see that my face is slightly puffier.
    Will it return to it’s normal size eventually?

  4. Hello. Im 21 years old i had all four of my wisdom teeth removed the bottom two were completely erupted and the top two were partially erupted. I got them removed due to bad headaches and ear aches they were causing for months (took a long time to realize it could be mh teeth) it is the 8th day and im still having bad tension headaches. Is it possible the inflammation is causing these awful headaches? My right cheek/jaw is sort of puffy still and aches. Please let me know!

  5. doc
    my wisdom tooth has been extracted..but now its almost 1 weeks since I have a puffy chick..I dont know what to do now..my dentist didn’t reply to my messages coz its really hard for me to go to her office..what I will going to do..

  6. I got my wisdom teeth removed 3 days ago and is it normal to be biting down on your cheek when biting down? I am scared and hope it is not a permanent thing.

  7. My friend had her wisdom tooth pulled a week ago, and she is still in alot of pain, cheek still swollen, hard to get any sleep because it keeps her up…any struggle on what to do for the swollen and pain

  8. Hi, tomorrow will be a week after my wisdom teeth removal, I still have no feeling in my right cheek and it is puffy and hard to eat. It is just very numb and I can’t feeling anything on that side of my mouth. I don’t know if this is normal or if I have nerve damage or something. what do you think?

  9. Hey, I just had all 4 impacted wisdom teeth removed about 14 hours ago and my cheeks swelling went down basically back to normal. Is that it for my swelling or has it not started yet? Should I be concerned? Or since I had ACL surgery about 5 months ago is my body just taking the healing like it’s no big deal? Thank you in advance.
    P.s. What is the average recovery time I know it’s different for everyone but a rough estimate would be nice.

  10. Hi Tom,

    I had four wisdom teeth removed yesterday, and I have some swelling along with slight pain. I was prescribed amoxicillin, before the surgery to take afterward, and was wondering what the likelihood of becoming infected without taking it is. I generally end up with very aggressive yeast infections orally as well as vaginally after taking antibiotics, so I try and avoid them as they are very hard to treat.

  11. I remove one wisdom teeth I got to much swelling in mouth
    But I got cifixam tablets fair that I use 6 day I well now

  12. I had my wisdom tooth pulled on Monday and it is now Friday. The swelling went down a lot almost not noticeable but now I feel like a semi hard lump in my cheek in front of the extraction point. Is this normal? Could it just be from the trama of the surgery. The tooth was impacted and he said it was difficult to get out. I went to the dentist yesterday for a check up and he said everything looked good inside, butI didn’t notice the hard lump until today. Oh yeah I been on antibiotics for 7 days
    Thank you, john

  13. Hi there. Its been four weeks since my impaction surgery but i worry much because my other cheek is still swollen. Its not painful inside but every time I touch my cheek It really hurts. Ive been taking anti inflammatory drugs but it doesn’t work at all. 7 days antibiotic almost done . its not good at all cause I feel bad about it. It feels like the half of my face is bigger. :( HELP PLEASE

  14. Hi Tom
    I’might in the UK and had a lower left impacted wisdom tooth removed on Wednesday morning. It is now Friday morning. I’m taking 4-hourly ibuprofens for the pain as well as salt water washes and Corsodyl. The swelling is possibly beginning to subside slightly. However this extends to my neck area (giving me a wattle – I’m thin so don’t normally have one!) and this morning my voice is going, and it is sore to the touch around the area of the left gland. I don’t have a cold that would cause this sore throat etc.
    I’d be grateful for your comments.
    Many thanks.

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