After having your tooth extracted, your doctor will provide you with some instructions to keep you comfortable and to avoid complications.
Aftercare will vary depending on the tooth extracted and if there were any complications, but for the most part, you can follow these general guidelines.
The most important part of the healing process is to maintain the clot that forms where the tooth used to be called a socket. Making sure this clot remains and is taken care of is essential in preventing a painful condition called dry socket.
Please follow all instructions provided by your doctor after surgery. The following are general guidelines and your specific care procedures may vary.
The First 2 Days
It’s normal to experience some light or low-level bleeding for up to 24 hours after the extraction. Any active or heavier bleeding after the first 24 hours requires a call to your doctor and possible further treatment.
Here are a couple of additional tips to keep you comfortable in the first 48 hours post-surgery:
- Rest Up: Getting rest and taking it easy for the first 24 hours is important and allows your body to begin to heal properly.
- Avoid rinsing: Even though you might feel the need to rinse out your mouth or gargle to keep your mouth fresher, refrain from doing so while the area clots. Gargling or rinsing your mouth may break-up any clot that is forming and delay the healing time.
- Change gauze if needed: It’s recommended that you leave the initial gauze in your mouth for a few hours minimum to allow a clot to begin forming. After the first few hours, you may begin to change the gauze as needed. Just be gentle when removing gauze as to not break up the newly forming clot.
- Don’t drink with straws! The pressure created in your mouth when drinking from a straw can very easily dislodge the clot, delaying healing time.
- Avoid spitting, blowing your nose, and sneezing: These actions might be hard to avoid completely, but do your best to avoid them. Just like drinking with a straw, they can create pressure on the healing area, and cause further discomfort and longer healing time.
- No smoking: Just like drinking from a straw, smoking creates pressure in your mouth which can break up a clot.
- Take pain relievers: Ask your doctor about the appropriate pain relievers that you can take post-surgery. They should be able to suggest a few over the counter pain relievers that can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Elevate your head: While sleeping or laying down, make sure you’re keeping your head elevated. This keeps unnecessary pressure away from the area trying to heal.
- Apply a cold compress: Ice packs or cold bags of ice wrapped in a towel in 15-minute increments can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Carbonated and sugary beverages should also be avoided during the healing process.
Days 3 through 10:
- Saline Rinse: After a clot is formed and in place, you can begin to rinse your mouth with a warm saline rinse. You can also put a pinch of salt in some warm water to create your own rinse which helps kill bacteria and prevent infections.
- Continue to brush and floss: You can continue to brush and floss your teeth as usual, but just take a little extra care and slow down around the area of the extracted tooth. You don’t want to knock the clot loose with your toothbrush.
- Soft foods: You should eat soft food that reduces the amount of chewing and lessens the chance of irritation in your mouth.
When should I contact my doctor?
Expect the normal healing process to take about 10 days. Some factors can lengthen this process such as a person’s age and whether or not they smoke or use tobacco.
There are a few issues that if present, you should contact your doctor which include:
- Bleeding that does not slow down or go away with time
- A high fever
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain and or swelling that continues to worsen over time
- Extreme pain that spreads to the ear
- Foul-smelling drainage from the wound
Tooth Extraction Summary
Having a tooth extracted is a common way to relieve the problems and complications of a decayed and unrepairable tooth.
After you have a tooth pulled or extracted, it’s important to follow the instructions of your dentist to ensure proper healing and to avoid other complications. Your dentist will also provide you with tips and suggestions to help avoid bone and gum loss, and possibilities to restore your smile with dental implants.