Our recommendation is to abstain from all physical activity including exercising after wisdom teeth removal for at least 24 hours. After 24 hours, you are permitted to continue your exercise routine but for your own comfort, you should ease back into it slowly. In our experience, most individuals will function close to their regular capacity after 3-4 days.
This article will go into depth about the importance of rest and why we recommend such guidelines for exercise as post-operative care for wisdom teeth extraction. We'll also briefly cover the types of exercises and sports which are permitted.
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Why rest is important after having wisdom teeth removed
You should definitely rest as much as possible after having your wisdom teeth removed, especially for the first 24 hours. The procedure is no walk in the park because it can be highly stressful during treatment and also afterwards as well. Studies show that those who anticipate stress and pain do in fact experience more of it than those who anticipated less.
Ultimately, the end result is an open wound in the extraction socket of where your tooth use to be. That hole in your gums needs to heal in order for it to close.
Wisdom teeth removal is a stressful procedure
In addition to the mental anxiety, the process of removing the third molars especially if they are impacted is not easy.
Anxiety. Hearing the phrase, wisdom tooth extraction will immediately put people on alert. Then knowing that it is you who has to go through it could very well make you anxious and raise your blood pressure. Most people are not too thrilled to have the procedure done.
Difficult procedure. Fully erupted wisdom teeth are easier to remove but the impacted ones are much more difficult. If your tooth is still stuck in the bone, your dentist would need to open up the gums and then drill through the bone in order to remove it. That is certainly much more difficult than removing loose baby teeth.
Extraction socket needs to heal
The wisdom tooth hole will need time to heal for it to close. It may take anywhere from 2-4 weeks for the gums to close over the hole. If you're able to prioritize rest, your body can focus on healing the extraction socket.
However, if you plan to exercise a lot, your body will have to divide up resources to healing your sore muscles from exercising as well as repairing the wisdom tooth hole. Therefore, exercising such as weight lifting and etc, may contribute to slightly delayed healing.
Here is a timeline showing how the extraction socket heals:
When can I start exercising again?
There are different guidelines as to when you should not exercise, when you could, and also when we recommend you to. The first 24 hours you shouldn't exercise at all. After the first 24 hours, you are permitted to do so but it may be more comfortable for you to wait until the third or fourth day.
First 24 hours
For the first 24 hours after wisdom teeth removal, you absolutely should not exercise at all. The two main reasons are that you have an open wound which is actively bleeding and you're probably in pain from the procedure.
Immediately after an extraction, the socket will be oozing out blood. That is precisely why your dentist has you biting on gauze for the next 2-3 hours. The biting pressure on the gauze helps to stop the bleeding.
You do not want to disturb the blood clot by exercising, which can raise your heart rate and blood pressure. The whole point of biting on gauze is to slow down the blood flow. That means exercising is counter productive to what we want to achieve, which is hemostasis. At a minimum, it will take about 24 hours for the blood clot to stabilize. If you don't listen, you may find the socket to continually keep bleeding.
You just had a wisdom tooth or teeth removed and it would be surprising if you weren't in pain. This is the reason why your dentist prescribed you pain medication. The first 24 hours are most likely the worse in terms of pain. You probably will not be comfortable nor able to focus on exercising even if you tried.
Our suggestion is to just take it easy on the first day and rest as much as you can. It will allow you to heal faster if you do so.
After 24 hours
You are permitted to exercise after 24 hours have passed since your wisdom tooth extraction. The blood clot should be stabilized enough so that you are no longer actively bleeding once that time period has passed. This means that it is now safe for you to partake in physical activities, even ones which get your heart rate up like running or weight lifting.
However, even though you are permitted to exercise, you may want to wait a few more days before doing so. You may no longer be actively bleeding but pain from the extraction socket is the most noticeable for the first 3 days or so.
That means if you exercise, the pain may distract you from your workout. The decision is yours to make nonetheless. We understand that waiting for that long may impede your lifestyle so if you do plan to workout, please try to ease back into it slowly. Maybe do some lighter exercising and decrease the intensity of your weight lifting.
After 3-4 days
The safest time and recommended one as to when you should exercise after having teeth removed would be 3-4 days afterwards. Most of the bleeding, swelling, and inflammation should have past its worse point after those few days.
In our experience, most of our patients are functioning pretty close to their normal capacity after 3-4 days. Therefore, our personal recommendation is to wait until then if you're able to.
Any exceptions on the type of exercises I can do?
There are no exceptions to any type of exercise or physical activity that you can do after having the wisdom teeth taken out. Our main concern is that all exercises will increase your heart rate and that can potentially lead to increased bleeding. It is due to that reason alone that we do not recommend any activity for the first 24 hours after the procedure.
Just to be crystal clear, here are examples of the type of exercises we are talking about. The list is not all inclusive so use your judgement as to what will get you breathing hard, huffing and puffing.
Body weight exercises like push ups
Any type of exercise class like kick boxing, cycling, etc
If it will get your heart rate up, it is probably not recommended! However, after the first day you can slowly ease back into it by lowering the intensity or duration of your workout.
What about sports?
The vast majority of sports can get pretty intense and will bring your heart rate up. Once again, an increase in your heart rate will increase the chances of your extraction socket bleeding. Therefore, you should not play sports for the first 24 hours after your wisdom teeth procedure.
You may resume your activities after the first day but you should definitely take it easy since your jaw will still be sore and in pain.
As a word of caution, if your sport has a lot of physical contact you may want to wait until after 3-4 days before you restart. Since your face and jaw is already sore and swollen from having the third molars taken out, you don't want to aggravate it with any physical contact to the face.
In summary, sports with physical contact you should wait 3-4 days but sports without any, you are permitted to resume after 1 day.
Sports with physical contact, which you should abstain for 3-4 days:
Sports without physical contact, which you can resume after 24 hours:
Having your wisdom teeth taken out can be extremely stressful. It may disrupt your life mentally, emotionally and even physically. A lot of people are keen on being in good physical shape so we get asked a lot about when they can resume exercising after having the teeth removed.
The guidelines are as such, you should completely abstain from any type of physical activity for the first 24 hours as a minimum. You are permitted to restart exercising after the first 24 hours but you may want to take it slowly since you're still in the recovering phase. After 3-4 days, you no longer have an excuse and you should resume all activities since most people are fully functional at that point.
Although if you play sports, you may want to wait until the 3-4 day time frame if it involves physical contact. If it does not have any physical contact, then you are permitted to resume after the first day.
Nonetheless, everyone is a little different and heal at different rates. If you don't feel ready yet, you should wait! If you are still unsure, you can always give your dentist a call to get their take on this issue.