I had 3 wisdom teeth out.
I didn’t go under. No light anesthesia.
Just a local. (That alone saved $800!)
I didn’t fill the Norco prescription for pain relief.
I had Tylenol around but never used it.
I used a lot of frozen peas, reader advice about all the natural, holistic remedies — and made myself a human experiment…
…which is why I still have one wisdom tooth in my mouth.
What are the Risks of Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
Before we jump into the story and the natural pain relief remedies I used to heal fast, the Two Big Questions should always be addressed:
Is this procedure necessary?
What are the risks?
As a general rule, I ask these two questions anytime a medical procedure is recommended.
Is it Necessary?
Not everyone needs to ditch their wisdom teeth, but if they’re causing crowding, toothaches, gum inflammation, or are riddled with cavities, it may be a good idea.
When I shared that I was getting mine out, many readers encouraged me to rethink it, but unfortunately, my wisdom teeth weren’t doing very well.
Two were fully “erupted” (they came in after I had my first child in my mid-20s!), one was halfway grown in, and one was completely “impacted,” i.e. under the surface of the gum.
For whatever reason, I’ve had cavities a lot in my 30s, which my dentist says is actually odd timing. Most people get cavities in their teens and 20s and then don’t have oral health issues until their 50s or 60s when they start needing root canals and such.
I worked to heal some of the smaller cavities and had success for a time, but since then I’ve had to have a number of them filled. Ick.
So mine needed to come out, because it’s not worth filling them, and they were having pretty serious decay.
What are the Risks?
A quick list of the risks of getting your wisdom teeth out:
- Dry socket is the complication everyone will warn you about. “Don’t drink through a straw!” Dry socket is caused when the blood clot (a normal and necessary part of healing) falls out and can occur 2-5 days after the extraction. Dry sockets cause throbbing pain and possibly unpleasant smells and must be addressed by your dentist or surgeon. Some readers reported them taking weeks to fully heal!
- Excessive bleeding lasting longer than 8-12 hours.
- Nerve damage which causes tingling and numbness in lips, which may last for a few weeks. The damage can also be permanent.
- Damage may also occur to the jawbone, adjacent teeth, and sinuses. The more complicated the extraction, the higher risk of damage.
- As with any open wound, infection is always a risk.
- Cavitations, which are basically a bacterial infection that’s closed in and undiscovered, are controversial, but they may actually be a huge risk. I know more than one person thrown into serious health issues for years, even decades, that was eventually found to be the result of cavitations from oral work. Read more about the risks of wisdom tooth removal to help you make your decision here.
If done poorly and any bit of tooth, infected tissue or bone is left behind, serious long-term complications may arise.
In the natural health world, folks can be pretty against having wisdom teeth out because of all the ramifications of what might happen long term.
Smoking, difficult extraction, and being over 25 are among the factors that increase the risk of dry socket.
A dentist or surgeon can look at an X-ray and determine if the root is wrapped around the bone or another tooth, or if the wisdom tooth itself is resting on the bone or an adjacent tooth. Those situations create greater risk.1, 2, 3, 4
Risks of Anesthesia
Once I decided the wisdom teeth needed to go, the next decision was how to manage the pain during the extraction.
I shared on Facebook that I was considering a local anesthetic only, and many supported that option and said they had done it themselves, while many others strongly advised me against it.
For example, Jacqueline wrote: “I have had two natural childbirths at home. I WOULD NOT just do a local for wisdom teeth. We are made with the ability to birth. We are not made with the ability to have teeth ripped out of our mouths! LOL I have had my wisdom teeth taken out with a local and it was awful to hear everything and feel all that pressure.”
“Don’t underestimate the trauma of sound,” another reader cautioned, saying she was fine without being “under” until the bone saw came out.
Let’s go back to our Two Big Questions:
Can You do a Wisdom Tooth Removal Without Anesthesia?
This is a very personal answer, as it turns out.
Those who have phobias of needles, low pain tolerance, or high conventional medicine tolerance would jump at the chance for a 2-hour nap.
General anesthesia (being all the way out) or sedation (suppressed consciousness so no memory of the procedure) may be the best choice for teeth that are fully impacted, especially when paired with low pain tolerance.
A local anesthetic may be great for teeth that are fully or partially erupted, like three of mine.
Bottom line: It’s not medically necessary beyond the local, but it may feel necessary personally.
What are the Risks?
There are always risks to any medical procedure, and here’s what I considered when weighing the question of anesthesia:
- Short-term side effects like nausea, headache, general groggy feeling
- It may be hard to detox, especially if you have MTHFR5, 6
- More expensive
- The dentist or surgeon may be rougher on you, causing bruising and jaw pain (quite a number of readers and friends mentioned this one!)
Why I Chose Local Anesthetic ONLY for Wisdom Teeth Extraction
I did the whole procedure with only a local anesthetic, four shots of Novocain.
My decision felt fairly easy until I asked for feedback and heard all the horror stories!
A number of factors went into my decision-making process:
I’m Cautious about Prescription Drugs
Because of long-term and short-term side effects, I avoid synthetic drugs when I can.
But there is a place for everything.
Whenever I can, I choose to avoid the drugs, and I was stubbornly planning to use no painkillers post-op, so extrapolating that to during surgery wasn’t a big leap.
(I had ibuprofen and acetaminophen in the wings waiting in case I needed them, but I hoped I wouldn’t fill the prescription for Norco.)
I’m quite a risk-averse person, and I’d rather risk having a longer recovery or being in a little temporary pain than making a choice that could result in longer-term damage if I can’t eliminate the drugs well.
My Situation Was a Less Complicated Extraction
The more a surgeon has to work hard to get the teeth out, the more potential physical and emotional trauma I would feel.
My top teeth wisdom teeth were already in, so that’s just like pulling regular teeth. It’s not a big deal.
On the bottom, one was partially in at an odd angle and the other one was impacted, so I went in not knowing if I’d get that one out or not. The doctor said I could make the call (I respected him a lot for his acceptance of my medical agency).
Because it’s impacted, it’s going to be the hardest to get to. The doc has to break bone to extract it, and it’s also really close to the nerve. Nerve damage is one of the biggest risks to having your wisdom teeth out, at least in conventional risk lists.
When making this decision for yourself, ask your surgeon if the roots are deep, wrapped around bone, etc. — that will help determine the extent of the surgery. I also chose to work with an oral surgeon, not a dentist, because they have more experience, and I wanted that both for the decision of which teeth to remove and the process of removal itself.
As I considered the question of that fourth tooth, I told my audience prior to the surgery: “The tooth is technically a ticking time bomb, but it has a really long fuse.”
Less Intervention Costs Less Money
The money savings can’t be ignored!
We use Samaritan, a Christian healthcare sharing ministry, and that means I pay for every dollar myself for dental issues.
Using only the local saved about $800, $452 for the general anesthesia and $364, I think, because I said, “Nah, no thanks,” to laughing gas (sedation).
I actually had written a check for $1135 before going in and got to write another one and tear up the first after coming out. Wow!
My Real Reason: The Value of Suffering
What it comes down to honestly is that as a Catholic Christian, I believe that Jesus redeemed suffering.
I believe that when Christ died on the cross, He showed us that suffering has meaning and redemptive value. In Colossians 1:24, Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,”
It’s something that’s a little confusing because it makes it sound like Christ’s work on the cross wasn’t finished.
It’s not that Christ didn’t do enough pain and suffering.
But what it really means, at least in Catholic theology, is that Christ invites us to be part of His suffering. That by our suffering, whether it be physical, mental, emotional; self-imposed (like fasting) or things that you don’t choose like an illness; that we can actually take those sufferings and those sacrifices and unite them to Christ’s on the cross. They become a prayer for the world, for one’s own intentions, even (especially) for the salvation of souls I’ve never even met.
I don’t really have a lot of opportunities to suffer. I live a first-world lifestyle. As much as I might complain, things are pretty cushy.
When I realized I could actually make the decision on my level of anesthesia, I liked that bit of agency.
The list of risks of Novocain is pretty much just, “being numb,” (so basically nothing), and the list of risks for general anesthesia, however small they are, is much longer.
I’m risk-averse, and I don’t really suffer that much. Why not make a list of intentions and people that are important to me and choose a painful experience that will be horrible while it’s happening but once it’s over, it’s over? Then I unite those sufferings to Christ’s.
It’s something that I really appreciate about Catholic theology, that suffering is not something to get through, it’s not something to learn from, it’s not something that we need to get to the end of.
Here’s what I shared before I went in:
The suffering could have redemptive value and can be a prayer. I’m going to be uniting that suffering to Christ. I really believe that this can be a form of prayer.
So as crazy as it sounds, I am having my wisdom teeth removed, potentially one that’s fully impacted with just locals.
Other people have done it too, but when I said in social posts that I figure I’ve done childbirth naturally, someone said, “You’re made to have children, you’re not made to have teeth pulled out of your head,” which is a good point.
It’s going to be painful. It’s going to be awful and I’m going to think about how much pain Christ went through for us, and the fact that this is so minor in comparison.
Wish You Knew All the Answers to Keep Your Family Healthy?
How about a crash course?
I’d love to send you a 7-day “Quick Start Guide” email mini-course to give you Health Agency! When something goes wrong in your family, YOU can be the agent of healing and not allllllways have to call a doctor for every little thing.
Imagine this email series as a virtual chat over the backyard fence with your own neighbor, a wise older mom who’s raising 4 kids with intention, trying to avoid unnecessary medication and being kind to the earth.
Looking forward to connecting to help you learn EXACTLY what you need to know to stock your natural remedies “medicine cabinet,” deal with normal childhood ailments, and even the dreaded, “What’s that on my skin?” issue! 🙂
Of Course, I Avoided Prophylactic Antibiotics
When major dental procedures of any kind are done, many dentists and surgeons will recommend some antibiotics “just in case” to prevent infection.
This of course was an easy call for me — modern medicine has its place, and if I needed antibiotics because of an infection, I’d take them.
(Ahem, likely after exhausting all other natural avenues, as I did with my cellulitis skin infection, for which I successfully avoided antibiotics completely.)
Taking antibiotics always harms your “terrain,” your body’s natural balance of good and bad bacteria. I wasn’t about to drop a nuclear bomb on my microbiome on the off chance my mouth got infected. The risk-benefit analysis is a home run on that one.
If I did end up requiring antibiotics after the fact to eradicate a raging infection, I’d take measures like daily doses of Just Thrive probiotics, a spore-based formula that is proven to survive the digestive tract and is helpful both during and after a round of antibiotics. If you’re looking for a good probiotic to add to your rotation, use the code Katie15 for 15% off Just Thrive.
Naturally Preparation for Wisdom Teeth Removal
Expectations are powerful.
The mental and physical preparation I did to be ready to get my wisdom teeth out helped immensely.
Mindset: My mindset was firm: No unnecessary procedures or drugs, expecting plenty of pain, but knowing my “why” and my greater purpose in it all. I queued up some recorded Rosaries on my phone and packed my best earbuds.
Prep: I purchased and prepared a lot of remedies for the recovery pain below; laid out my clothes in all black, not to mourn the loss of my teeth, but so that I wouldn’t have any laundry stains if blood dripped out of my mouth; and put extra gauze and a dark-colored washcloth in the car for the drooling.
Some of my natural pain relief remedies that needed pre-prep:
- frozen tea bags
- frozen peas
- essential oil roll-on: copaiba, lavender, and frankincense, all to reduce swelling and pain.
The day before: I actually chose to take a few remedies the day before and the morning of the surgery to prepare my body to heal well:
- I took some homemade turmeric capsules the morning of the surgery. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory to avoid swelling. Drinking golden milk would also be a great option before and after surgery, and if you don’t make your own, you can purchase turmeric capsules from Paleovalley for 10% off here.
- I took homeopathic arnica 30c as preparation as well, which was very controversial. You can get Arnica Montana at Turning Ranch Homeopathics.
And for better or for worse, I asked the KS audience for advice, and 179 comments later I had plenty of strategies, well wishes, and warnings!
For example, Shanon shared: “I had tooth pain and I have to tell you, I would rather birth ten more babies without drugs than have that tooth pain! Yes, I did my babies at home with no drugs. As for healing quick, if you go to a dentist that does the blot clot from your own blood it is totally worth the money!!!”
Well. I added my lavender oil and a tissue (my cheap DIY personal diffuser) to my bag as a way to seek calm before the procedure!
I packed my Rosary and my list of intentions to offer up and I was ready.
Homeopathic Remedies for Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Because I wanted to use homeopathic remedies, I needed to order in advance, because stronger potencies aren’t often available at local health food stores.
I wasn’t very well versed in how to use homeopathic remedies back then, but I knew I wanted to try it.
Many, many readers said hypericum was a life-saver for oral surgery pain, so I ordered some and did research to figure out dosing. We’ve recently seen that remedy work wonders for my daughter’s oral pain on account of orthodontic appliances causing scrapes in her inner cheek, so I’m definitely a fan.
Homeopathic Arnica for Dental Pain
Arnica had supporters and naysayers —
A few people warned me that arnica before surgery could dull the anesthesia, “make your body work against the anesthesia to heal you,” and cause me to require more shots, and there’s a myth out there that arnica can make people bleed more profusely if taken before surgery.
Four people said to take arnica the day before surgery but not that morning.
In this homeopathic surgery protocol from Joette Calabrese, she recommends arnica both before and after. I chose to go for it!7
I highly recommend reading Joette’s information, and this from ABC Homeopathy forum is another protocol that’s a little hard to follow but helpful.
For my own post-op arnica, I had read that 30x acts faster, so I took arnica 30x first and then switched to 30c (stronger) for the remainder of the time.8
(Now that I’ve taken a homeopathy class, I would use the even stronger 200c post-op. Arnica montana 30c and 200c available from Turning Ranch Homeopathics, lactose-free 30c, and lactose-free 200ck by Ollois.)
Finally, here are a few notes on dental homeopathy from Stephanie, a helpful reader who is studying homeopathy:
- Gelsemium sempervirens for fear (lactose-free Gelsemium 30c by Ollois)
- Aconite (aconitum napellus) for extreme fear (lactose-free Aconitum napellus 30c by Ollois)
After Dental work
- Arnica 1m (repeat if needed) Note from Katie: 1M is very, very strong.
- Bedside alternate as needed: Arnica montana 30c for pain, Hypericum perforatum for nerve pain. (lactose-free versions by Ollois – Arnica 30c, Hypericum 30c)
- Phosphorus for bleeding (lactose-free Phosphorus 30c by Ollois)
- Ruta graveolens for dry socket & joint pain from mouth being open long (lactose-free Ruta graveolens 30c)
- Ledum palustre for injection (lactose-free Ledum palustre 30c by Ollois)9
Know What Not to Mix with Homeopathy
There are a few things, mint in particular, that “antidote” homeopathic remedies. You’ll want to read this and this from Joette to understand which essential oils or foods/scents to avoid using while you’re trying to benefit from homeopathy.
These antidotes aren’t dangerous and won’t cause side effects; they simply render the homeopathic remedy null, so you’ve wasted that effort.
Do You Need Prescription Painkillers to Recover?
Here’s the thing: It’s not like conventional medicine is this perfect pain-free solution, even when you choose it. A few readers reminded me of this:
Bonnie said: “I had a couple friends who had HORRIBLE wisdom teeth experiences – one had MAJOR pain for a week after her surgery and the other had really bad bruising (yellow chipmunk cheeks for a week). So that was my expectation going into my surgery… but a day after my surgery, I realized that I was laying around feeling dozy and yucky because of my pain meds, not the surgery, so I quit taking the prescription pain meds and just took regular Tylenol as I needed it and I was fine.”
Joselyn shared: “I was given pain meds that made me so nauseated they were worse than the trivial amount of pain I had.”
Obviously, each person will make their individual decision, but between the potential for addiction and the side effects, I didn’t feel the prescription would be necessary.
But what about over-the-counter pain relief?
Conventional Pain Relief Recommendations
Plenty of people who aren’t anti-prescription still get through without the heavy meds.
A dentist friend and his wife shared:
“Take 800mg of Ibuprofen before your surgery. It will decrease your post-op pain significantly. I didn’t take any Norco after I got mine out. I did Ibuprofen, 800mg every 8 hours for the first 3 days then as needed. If the pain is too severe you can take Tylenol in between.”
Of course, you know by now that I neither used the prescription NOR the OTCs because my arsenal of natural options worked like a charm.
I can add the Norco script to my pile of unfilled antibiotics prescriptions that our family hasn’t used!
To be honest, the worst part of the whole experience, pain-wise, was the fact that on night one I was sleeping in my husband’s recliner in the living room and the computer that runs our TV was SO loud! It was having dueling piano contests with the clock on the wall (which I eventually shut in the basement) and my husband’s actual computer in the next room.
When everyone woke up for the day, I went to my real bed and took a nap!
Natural Pain Relief for Wisdom Teeth Extraction Recovery
The most important part of recovering from wisdom tooth extraction is to keep the swelling down, and for that, it’s simple old school “R.I.C.E.” — rest, ice, compression, elevation, (minus the compression, ow).
All day I alternated cheap frozen peas and soft ice packs wrapped in a tea towel.
A friend recommended a fun fix that I didn’t use but sounds hilarious (and effective):
Take two tube socks. Fill them with frozen peas and tie them together at the top. Put the knot on the top of your head and adjust until the peas in the toes are at the right spot on your cheeks. You will look like a rabbit but can have free hands if you are sitting or lying down like you should be.
Peas are better than solid ice packs because you’re pretty tender, and they mold nicely to your face. I rotated two bags and kept refreezing as soon as they were nearing half-thawed.
For the first night at least, it’s recommended to sleep on a recliner or 3 pillows to keep your head above your heart. And get a lot of sleep!
Block out a few days to avoid work and read lots of books. (I know, moms, doesn’t that sound just awful?) 😉
For wisdom tooth surgery pain, I used:
- Homeopathic arnica and hypericum, 4 tablets of each shaken in a jar of 4-8 ounces filtered water. I kept the jar by my bedside and sipped from time to time. Otherwise, you can take arnica and hypericum alternating every hour or two for the first day, less frequently as you heal. Typically you’d use 200c at first and then maybe dial down to 30c. Arnica is for pain, swelling, and bruising while hypericum addresses the actual surgery incision and nerve pain.
- Arnica salve as well to put on the jawline and cheeks.
- Magnesium lotion on the jawline and cheeks.
- An essential oil roll-on I made using diluted copaiba, frankincense, and lavender, at about a 5% dilution. That’s pretty strong, but I was only using it on a small area. I would have added helichrysum if I had it.
- Note: be sure to alternate the lotions and salves, and I avoided using the EO roll-on at the same time as I took homeopathic remedies, just because I didn’t want them to conflict at all.
Essential Oils and the Brain
Watch this quick video for info on the vagus nerve, how essential oils can be a “backdoor” entry to health, and the importance to your whole family of getting into a parasympathetic state more often:
Can’t see the video? Watch Essential Oils and the Brain here on YouTube.
And the oil she held up in the video is one of her own special blends, appropriately called Parasympathetic. You can get your own hands on some here.
To help the wound heal faster, I used:
- Frozen black tea bags instead of or with the gauze. This is for day one, because as Alethea helpfully told me, “The tannins help with clotting (very important) and they’ll also soak up yuck.” Plus, it feels really, really good in there. I don’t drink tea, but I had some around for kombucha, so I just lightly steeped about 10 of them and froze them the day before. Easy peasy! Take a few out of the freezer before leaving for your appointment so they’re not entirely solid, and I also ran some under hot water after I got home. They’re pretty darn cold to have in the mouth anyway, even with some numbing left. Rather than freezing, you could also just soak tea bags in cool water, squeeze the excess out and put a few gauze pads over it to soak up the blood. Let the tea bag itself touch the wound, if you can even feel it! That was the trickiest part just after being home, wondering if I was even putting those things far enough back because I couldn’t feel anything!
- Many readers recommended clove essential oil or even ground cloves on the gauze pack to stop the bleeding. Others said that as a “hot” oil, clove could actually thin the blood and increase bleeding, but the personal experiences of bleeding stopping right away with clove outnumbered the one other voice. I didn’t choose to use it but perhaps should have (see below)!
- A salt water/saline rinse gently in the mouth, no swishing, just a little rinse, and gargle. This is often recommended the entire first week as brushing your teeth is difficult and risky – dry socket is when the scab falls out, basically, so you want to be so gentle in your mouth! BUT follow your doctor’s instructions on when you can put something liquid in your mouth for the first time — it’s not right away, and it’s hard to be patient and not want to rinse all the grossness out of your mouth.
- Kim, a dentist office staffer, said that raw honey directly on the socket helps the healing process move faster. I’m guessing Manuka honey would be even more effective since it’s pretty potently anti-pathogenic. Kylee used raw honey on a dry socket after she learned the hard way that she was allergic to lidocaine, and she healed up very well. If I had known about Beekeeper’s Naturals propolis spray back then, I definitely would have used it! Propolis has incredible anti-pathogenic properties and is our family go-to when someone has an injury inside the mouth.
- I took a bath in Epsom salts and Redmond clay for general relaxation, pain relief, and detoxing any Novocain that was in the bloodstream.
The mouth is very vascular, which means it bleeds more but also heals faster, 7-14 times faster, my dentist says. That’s good to keep in mind in case you feel like you’ll never stop bleeding! I didn’t know that after my procedure, and here’s what I wrote in the midst of the experience:
My top right tooth, which was all the way in, just kept bleeding and bleeding! 1:30p and still filling gauze pads with red. I’m annoyed and a little worried. (Surgery was over at about 9:40a.) My jaws are just so sore from being open and pressed down upon something for so long! I don’t even feel that badly – just annoyed. I’m wayyyy ready to have nothing in my mouth, and it’s really really hard not to want to rinse it out to dilute!
The dental assistant said to be sure not to leave the gauze on too long – if it’s just pink and not really bleeding, I could inhibit clotting by rubbing against the area as my blood tries to do its job.
Day one is definitely the least fun, in my experience, and all these strategies worked to completely help me avoid painkillers of any kind.
Remember, of course, that I didn’t have to have a bone broken, which may have made a massive difference.
I could have had that experience, but I ended up choosing differently…
Why I Still have one Wisdom Tooth Left: I’m a “Human Experiment”
I’m kind of surprised I left the “tooth #4” decision until I was all numbed up already, but that’s how it went down.
The surgeon was super chill and allowed me to make all of my own decisions. He said he never tries to push anyone into treatment. I really appreciated that!
We had the tooth #4 conversation after the other 3 were already out.
Because I said I was 50/50 on the fence, he said we should probably just let this set of 3 heal and then think again about number 4 another day. But…I really thought that I should just get it over with.
I mean, I was in the chair. I’d mentally prepared (and was still shaking a little bit in my hands; why waste that adrenaline that’s in the Novocain?).
My mouth was mostly numb, why not finish it off?
He and the dental assistant left for a few minutes to let the gauze soak up some blood and give me one last chance to think.
I said a prayer for God’s will and thought, “If I feel peaceful about this, I go through with it.”
But then I started thinking about the reasons I “should” get that impacted tooth out. I pretty much had 3 choices, each with its own risks:
- Get the whole tooth out. Risk = if the roots are close to the nerve, I could have temporary or permanent nerve damage. On the X-ray, it looks very close, but because X-rays are 2-D, it could be forward or backward from the root on a plane and really not a risky issue.
- Get the tooth out but leave the roots. This was a recommendation from someone in the KS community, and I asked the doc if that was in the realm of possibility and why one might do that. He said that yes, it was, and protecting the nerve would be the reason. Risk = infection of the root, since you are closing up a wound with some tissue left in there. Over 90% of people who do this don’t have a problem.
- Leave the tooth in. Risk = Because the space between this tooth and the next tooth, which I’d like to keep thank-you-very-much, is measured at 5-6 and deeper than the normal 2-3, my personal risk of bacteria clambering down there and causing issues is vastly increased. The result of that risk coming to fruition of course is that I’d have to come back another day, maybe next year, in ten years, or when I’m 75 and have the thing taken out (perhaps along with its neighbor).
I started thinking about that risk, about whether bacteria would be getting down there.
You should know that I’m terrible about brushing my teeth in the morning. The entre-family lifestyle means that I rarely leave the house and sometimes go from bed to computer to the morning routine with kids to computer to breakfast…it’s barely conducive to getting dressed, I’m telling you.
So if I needed to brush twice a day regularly, I probably wouldn’t do it. #badpatient
However, I have a good relationship with the folks over at Orawellness, and I have plenty of their brushing blend, which should help rid my teeth of the bad bacteria. I’m also a fan of oil pulling, although currently out of the habit.
My science geek brain apparently was not on board with the fact that we should be sensible and practical and just get the tooth out because I’m already in the chair. It started brainstorming, “Wouldn’t it be cool if oil pulling would prevent bacteria from getting down in that crevice between teeth? This could be an interesting post…”
Now I was all excited about this prospect! “Where I felt peace” was clear.
I had to be a human experiment because that’s what I do it Kitchen Stewardship®!
I told the oral surgeon (through a mouthful of gauze and numb lips, mind you, so read it with no consonants) that I changed my mind.
I decided I’d be a human experiment. Yeah. Try saying “human experiment” without using your lips or tongue and see how sophisticated you sound. It felt tough to take myself seriously!
When I asked him what he thought about oil pulling, he immediately pulled back physically and answered more curtly than I was used to from him, “I’m not a fan of oil pulling.”
Uh oh. Now what am I going to learn about the deficits of this practice that I’ve written positively about???
Luckily, he was just putting his scientist hat firmly on his head. “There is really no data – there’s just not research showing that it does anything positive,” he said. “I can’t recommend something without data to back it up.”
Ok. I get it. He can’t recommend it – but were there any major risks to oil pulling?
“No, no negative effects that we know of, just no data.”
Here I go through the gauze again, probably drooling blood as I give him a crooked smile and quip, “Ok doc, well I’ll be data set n=1, with our measurements starting today.”
I did get a smile back, and his posture relaxed. We’re on the same team.
When I got home, I told my husband: If bacteria doesn’t get down in there and doesn’t cause cavities then I’m good, and I can keep that tooth to the grave!”
He tossed back, “Oh, that’s gonna be a long experiment!”
He’s used to me. 😉
What to Eat After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Whether you get one tooth out or all four, your mouth needs a break from crunchy stuff.
Eat these mushy foods after your wisdom teeth are out:
- Scrambled eggs
- Homemade yogurt
- Smoothies, but no straws and not tooooo cold
- Cottage cheese
- Blended soup with extra
- Cheesy mashed potatoes
- Rice pudding
- Drink bone broth with extra gelatin
A helpful tip from reader Sarah that I was too lazy to use: “If you want to eat something soft while your mouth is still a little numb, go slow and hold a mirror in front of you. It helps to SEE where the spoon is going when you can’t totally FEEL it.”
Remember NO straws or slurping so you don’t dislodge the clots, and protein helps the healing process. Addingand gelatin or cheese to everything you can is a great idea.
And of course, you should plan to eat some peas since they’re thawed anyway! (with lots of butter) 😉
What the Pain Felt Like After Wisdom Tooth Extraction
I shared the story “real-time” with my audience at Kitchen Stewardship® on Facebook, and I described it like this:
Getting 3 wisdom teeth out wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought, especially the ones that were all the way in. They didn’t even need the drill. It took 60 seconds.
Chill, all you people who said the dentist would be climbing on the chair, yanking and pulling and throwing your head around. Either I had the best surgeon in the world, or that’s all just to scare people! It wasn’t bad at all.
I got home and I worked a little bit because you’re numb and other than drooling a little bit, you’re fine.
Then as the local started wearing off it’s weird. Then you start feeling the ache. I found it was more a fear of what it would feel like.
There’s a little dull ache, and it’s fine. If this is 10% of how bad it’s going to be, then that’s not cool, but if it’s only gonna get twice as bad then I can handle it.
I think of it as like a sinus headache in reverse, same pressure and ache, but down across my jaw.
The worst part was that one of my top teeth, which was all the way in and should have been a super chill extraction, just wouldn’t stop bleeding. I got nervous.
There’s one really gross thing going on: I can feel this piece of tissue covering two of my other teeth, and it feels like a slug. And it’s not happening on the other side so my brain is freaking out thinking it’s not normal!
My husband remembers dangly things from when he had his wisdom teeth out. I just want to like rinse and spit it out and pull it out, but I probably shouldn’t do that.
If you watched Stranger Things, I feel like I’m Will Byers with the slug he spit out into the sink in that final episode of the first season. Gross, gross, gross! Honestly, that is the worst part.
Wisdom Teeth Extraction Post-Op Complication
I called to ask the experts if my slug was normal, and they wanted me to come in.
I half expected the oral surgeon to take one look in my mouth and recoil with shock!
He actually played it really cool, sucked the slug right out with a special sterile vacuum cleaner for the mouth, packed some anti-bleeding stuff in there, and left the room for it to do its job.
This, by the way, hurt far more than the initial wisdom tooth extraction, partly because I wasn’t expecting it. Also, I think the dental assistant is used to prodding people’s mouths to suck out saliva and blood when they’re totally numb, and I was not at all.
After he checked that the bleeding had in fact, ceased, and he was able to take the packing out (“No need to leave anything in there that’s not needed, could increase risk of infection”), he stepped back, put his hands on his hips, pursed his lips and said in a measured voice, “Now THAT was impressive.”
He was totally holding back until all was well!
I nearly clapped my hands, pumped my fist, and cried, “I knew it! It was beyond normal!” but instead I lightly rolled my eyes and quipped, “Well, I like to be an over-achiever in all things.”
How Did the Natural Home Remedies Work? Surgeon Weighs In:
One week after surgery, I went in for my normal post-op checkup.
This process took about 90 seconds after a 30-minute wait, and the doc glanced in my mouth, exclaimed with glee, “You’re ahead of the game on healing! This looks great!” and assured me “no restrictions” – I can eat whatever I want.
In a move that is the natural blogger’s greatest compliment, he asked, “What are you doing to heal?”
His eyebrows may have raised ever-so-slightly when I said I hadn’t used any OTCs or filled the prescription for Norco.
And now you know the long-form answer to his question if you’ve gotten this far in the post. 😉
If you like impressing your doctors and stubbornly refusing to follow the crowd, I hope my story of “what worked” along with the recommendations from the community here at KS are helpful to you.
Three Years Later: The Human Experiment
I bet you’re wondering what happened with tooth #4, aren’t you?
It’s already been three years of my experiment, so data set n=1 has had some time to prove that daily oil pulling is effective…but…
I’m a terrible human experiment!
I feel guilty reading my own words from three years ago when I actually got the teeth extracted.
“I’m going to oil pull every day!”
I barely remember to oil pull every shower, which, ahem, is not every day. #reallife #entrepreneur #workathome
I also need to remember to have my dentist measure the pocket that may be causing problems.
I can say that I don’t have any pain back where the one lonely wisdom tooth remains lodged, but that’s not really a sign of success at all.
Now to recommit to being a better human experiment!
More oil pulling in my future, and I just started using Dentalcidin, which is a toothpaste with a potent anti-pathogenic formula.
Summary: What You Need to Recover from Wisdom Tooth Extraction Without Pain Meds:
Decisions to make:
- Do you really need the teeth out? Are any riskier than others?
- Local vs. sedation vs. general anesthetic
- Antibiotics? (No.)
- Do you believe in the value of suffering?
What to buy (in order of my opinion of importance):
- frozen peas x 2
- black tea bags
- homeopathic remedies: arnica 200c, hypericum 200c (optional: aconite, phosphorus, ruta, ledum — all 30c or 200c)
- raw honey
- Gelatin and/or collagen
- essential oils: copaiba, lavender, Frankincense, helichrysum, clove — diluted in any liquid oil (olive oil works if you don’t want to buy anything)
- magnesium lotion and Epsom salts
- Arnica salve
- Redmond clay
- Turmeric capsules or golden milk (you can also buy turmeric tea)
- optional: Just Thrive probiotics
- optional: Tylenol and/or Ibuprofen to have just in case
Food to have on hand:
- Eggs, yogurt, applesauce, cottage cheese
- Make some blended soup ahead (I made 3 kinds, because you’re on a soft food diet for a week!)
- Cheesy mashed potatoes
- Rice pudding
- Make bone broth to drink (with extra gelatin)
May your wisdom tooth extraction, if necessary, be an experience that builds your character and your confidence in home doctoring, and may you recover with no complications, not even a slug!
- National Health Service. (2018, April 4). Complications Wisdom Tooth Removal. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/wisdom-tooth-removal/complications/
- Glaros, W. (n.d.). What Are Cavitations? Retrieved from https://www.biologicaldentist.com/education/cavitations/
- Colgate. (n.d.). 5 Possible Wisdom Teeth Removal Complications. Retrieved from https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/wisdom-teeth/5-possible-wisdom-teeth-removal-complications
- Mayo Clinic. (2018, January 18). Wisdom Tooth Extraction. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/wisdom-tooth-extraction/about/pac-20395268
- Lorenz, D. (n.d.). What You NEED to Know About Anesthesia if You Have MTHFR.
Retrieved from https://raisingnaturalkids.com/mthfr-and-anesthesia/
- Prime Integrative Dentistry. (n.d.). MTHFR and the Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas) – What’s the Connection? Retrieved from https://texasholisticdentist.com/blog/mthfr-and-the-nitrous-oxide-laughing-gas-whats-the-connection/
- Calabrese, J. (2019, November 20). Pain: Make it Stop! [Podcast]. https://joettecalabrese.com/podcast1/podcast-86-pain-make-it-stop/
- Bennet, A. (2017, August 14). What is Arnica Montana 30X? Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/24111-arnica-montana-30x/
- Capranos, J. (2011, September 14). Homeopathy Deciphered. Retrieved from http://www.alive.com/health/homeopathy-deciphered/