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Oral Surgery/Headaches after wisdom teeth extracted


I am 31 years old and had all four of my wisdom teeth removed at the same time.  I was awake for the entire procedure.  The oral surgeon had a hard time with each tooth, having to shave down the bone around each tooth in order to get them out.  He said that my bone is very dense and gave him a hard time with each tooth.  The whole procedure took a little over an hour.  That same day, after the numbness went away, I took a motrin and a nap.  When I woke up, I felt great.  The next day i felt good until I awoke from a nap in the afternoon and the blood-clot from the upper left tooth had dislodged (Friday).  I immediately cleaned what I could and placed gauze in the area and bit down on it for a couple hours (slightly firm).  Since then (1 week) I have been getting really bad headaches.  The motrin helps, but each day I have woken up from my headache.  It is not happening as often now throughout the day, but the pain is just as bad when it does.  The following Monday I went to see the dentist that removed my teeth (regarding the blood-clot coming out which I thought to be dry socket).  He looked at all four sites and said that everything looks great and looks to be healing and that the blood-clots are there.  I have read that these headaches can be caused from grinding and clenching your teeth.  My wife says that I grind my teeth in my sleep.  I tried using a mouth guard last night, but I still woke up this morning with a very bad headache.  I have been rinsing with salt and water since day one, but not for more than a minute at a time.  I also started considering today that it might be a hydration issue since my intake of food and water has reduced significantly.  One night I took a motrin 800 and half a Tylenol 3 (I am 5'11 190lbs) because I woke up at 3 AM with a bad headache.  That kept me going until about 8 AM, when the headache started again.  I am trying to eat more and drink more water throughout the day.  What do you suggest I can do to get rid of these headaches?

Mohamad - Of course, without examining you I cannot be sure, but after the extraction of wisdom teeth it is very common to develop the muscular spasms you are describing.  Yes a mouthguard can help reduce the spasms, but it must be a hard acylic appliance and it must be adjusted so that the teeth touch evenly.  A soft appliance actually accentuates the spasms.  

My suggestion is that you have the surgeon examine you.  Spasms of muscles is common after wisdom teeth, but in addition to an appropriate appliance, warm salt water rinses in the areas of the extraction for a full 5 minutes, 4-5 times a day.  The surgeon might have to prescribe a mild muscle relaxer, like robaxin, to further relax the muscles.  

So my suggestion is that you contact the surgeon and have him examine you.  It is important to stop the headaches soon.  If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me again.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor at State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA- University of Connecticut DMD-University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency - Roosevelt Hospital, NYC

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