Tooth Extraction Care
Proper tooth extraction care after the procedure can make a big difference.
The formation of a blood clot at the site of a tooth extraction is an essential part of the healing process.
Cuts inside the mouth (such as an incision or the empty socket where the tooth was once located) tend to bleed more heavily than cuts on the skin because they are unable to dry and form a scab.
A blood clot at the site of your extraction temporarily seals the site.
Your dentist will ask you to bite down on sterile gauze to apply pressure on the site and allow the blood to clot. The clotting process could take as little as 20 minutes or as long as several hours, depending on the complexity of the extraction and the degree of damage to the surrounding gums and bone.
Tooth Extraction Care After Leaving the Dentist
Once the clot forms, be careful not to disturb or dislodge it. Avoid drinking from a straw, smoking, rinsing your mouth and spitting for at least 24 to 48 hours after your procedure.
You should also avoid vigorous exercise for three to five days after your tooth extraction. Be aware that the site might bleed a little despite the clot, but it generally stops after 24 hours or so.
Restrict your diet to soft foods for the first two days, and chew on the side opposite from the extraction.
Rinse your mouth with warm salt water (add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to one cup of water) for the first few days to help cleanse the area. You can gently brush your teeth, but avoid brushing near the site of the extraction.
You might experience some post-procedure swelling in your jaw or face. The swelling is completely normal and part of the healing process, so don't be alarmed.
It will be most noticeable during the first two to three days after your extraction, but applying ice packs to the affected region will help. The cold from the ice packs constricts the blood vessels in the region and reduces their capacity to carry in the fluids that cause swelling, so the swelling will not be as severe.
Your jaw muscles might feel a bit stiff as the swelling subsides, but gentle exercise and warm compresses should loosen them up.
Your dentist or oral surgeon may or may not prescribe antibiotics to take after your tooth is pulled. If he or she does, make sure you take them as directed until you've taken them all.
Clients Tooth Extraction Care and Expectations
You might be under the impression that once your tooth has been pulled, you won't feel any more pain or discomfort.
Unfortunately, most patients experience at least some minor pain after having one of their teeth extracted. It's something to be expected after having a tooth forcibly removed from the jawbone.
In most cases and with adequate tooth extraction care, this post-procedure pain is temporary, minor and easily dealt with by taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®) for a couple of days.
Some people don't need any pain relievers, but complicated extractions might cause more severe pain that requires prescription pain medication.
If the hole left by the extraction required stitches, they will typically dissolve within a week or two. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will help them dissolve.
As time passes, the hole left by the extraction will gradually fill in with gum tissue and bone, ultimately becoming even with the adjacent bone.
Tooth Extraction Care to Avoid Complications
"Dry socket" is a fairly common complication following a tooth extraction. A dry socket, which exposes the underlying bone to air, food and debris, usually develops if a blood clot never formed in the empty tooth socket or the clot that did form becomes dislodged.
Dry socket can be very painful and must be treated by your dentist to prevent additional problems.
Treatment usually involves placing a medicated dressing into the dry socket to alleviate the pain and allow the wound to heal. The dressing is usually replaced with a fresh dressing every 24 hours until the symptoms disappear, which in some cases might take several days.
Occasionally, one or more small fragments of dead bone (individually called a "sequestrum") will work their way to the surface of an extraction site as the body ejects them during the healing process.
In some cases a tooth splinters or breaks while being extracted, and you might find small pieces surfacing at the site for up to several weeks after the socket appears to have healed. You might be able to remove some of these fragments without help, but others might need to be removed by your dentist.
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