Tooth extraction is a common procedure for adults. Whether it is carried out as a result of tooth decay, gum disease, overcrowding or damage caused by trauma, it is a general dental procedure that dentists do every day.
While the dentist will take care of the tooth extraction procedure in a matter of minutes, it is up to you to manage the aftercare, which can take several days. In this blog, we’ll provide some insights into what you can expect following a tooth extraction and what you can do to make the healing process go as smoothly as possible.
What to Expect After a Tooth Extraction
Once the dentist removes your tooth, it is normal to experience a degree of bleeding. Usually, the dentist will ask you to bite down on a piece of gauze to put some pressure on the point of extraction and slow the rate of bleeding. This also encourages the blood to clot.
When it comes to post-operative care, the priority will be to keep the blood clot in place. If it comes loose, you can experience a condition known as dry socket, where the nerves of the tooth are exposed, and you experience a severe, dull pain that takes a while to heal.
Our Top Tips for What to Do After a Tooth Extraction
Once you’re back home, you may start to feel a little pain or discomfort after your tooth extraction, and experience some swelling. However, we’ve got plenty of great tips to help you manage this.
- Take painkillers as prescribed by your dentist to manage any discomfort.
- Leave the gauze pad in place for about 3-4 hours after the procedure to let that clot form and take hold.
- Apply an ice pack to the affected area immediately after the procedure for a short period of time. This helps numb the area. Remember though, too much exposure to ice and could result in tissue damage, so don’t overdo it.
- Avoid touching the tooth extraction site with your tongue or your fingers.
- It is best to rest for 24 hours after the procedure and limit strenuous activities for the following 2–3 days as well. This gives your body the time and energy to heal up.
- Avoid brushing or rinsing your teeth for the first 24 hours after the tooth extraction procedure. After that, you can brush your teeth very gently or rinse with salt water. It is important to keep brushing and flossing your teeth to prevent infection; however, take care to avoid the extraction site.
- When it comes to eating, it is best to avoid food and beverages that are either very hot or very cold because the site will be incredibly sensitive to these extremes following the tooth extraction.
- Likewise, avoid eating anything that is sticky or hard, as it may aggravate any pain or interfere with the extraction site.
- It is also best to avoid smoking or drinking alcohol during the postoperative period.
- When it comes to sleep, keep your head elevated using pillows. Lying flat can delay healing.
Signs of Trouble: When to Seek Further Medical Help
On average most people take around 7–10 days to heal fully after a tooth extraction procedure. The healing period tends to be slightly longer for older people and those that smoke. However, if you’re still experiencing issues or any of the below symptoms, you should seek medical attention and see your dentist.
- Persistent or worsening pain
- Persistent or worsening bleeding
- Nausea or vomiting
- Intense pain that moves in the direction of the ear
- Discharge at the extraction site
Your dentist can help you find the cause of the issue and treat it appropriately.
Take Care of Your Mouth After an Extraction Is Important & Easy!
Although tooth extraction is a straightforward general dental procedure that dentists carry out all the time, proper aftercare is crucial when it comes to a patient’s recovery. If you follow the prescribed guidelines, you should find that healing doesn’t take more than a couple of weeks, after which time you will most likely be able to transition back to a regular diet and lifestyle.
As time goes on, new bone and gum tissue will grow over the extraction site. With that being said, the gap left by a missing tooth may cause your teeth to shift, which in turn can affect your bite. For this reason, you may want to discuss the option of replacing the extracted tooth with solutions like dental implants, fixed bridges or a denture.
At the end of the day, a tooth extraction is an uncomplicated procedure and, provided you follow these easy aftercare tips, you should find everything is back to normal in next to no time.