Tooth extraction aftercare: pain control, foods and medicine

The blood clotting process is a vital part of the natural healing mechanism and it is important not to disturb the tooth socket for at least 24 hours after the tooth has been removed. The blood clot provides insulation and protection to the bone and nerves underneath and it is vital not to burst this protective layer.  If the blood clot is disrupted or fails to form properly, a dry socket will be formed leading to a delayed healing time, intense pain and possible infection. Actions that can affect the blood clotting process and therefore should be avoided, include

  • Avoiding strenuous exercise and rest: Try to get some rest after Tooth Extraction. You may feel great but don’t exercise or do too much activity for at least 24 hours. When resting, keep your head in a slightly upright position on the pillow.

Don’t poke into the gap created: Though for initial few days, it will feel a bit awkward to have a gap but don’t poke that area with any toothpick or tongue as it may delay healing, may provoke bleeding and can also lead to dry socket. Tooth extraction refers to the painless removal of a tooth or tooth roots with minimum trauma to the surrounding tissues so that the extraction socket wound heals uneventfully and without any post-operative complications. Whenever any surgery takes place the first thing dentists want is to let it heal properly, quickly and smoothly. As a common practice, most of the dental surgeons have standard post-surgery instructions printed which are handed over to the patient. One must follow these instructions given by the dentist. Following all the post-operative instructions after tooth extraction reduces the incidence of infection and chances of dry socket. If aftercare instructions are not followed then it can cause complications, which can further lead to delayed healing.

Necessary measures before tooth extraction 

Your dentist will explain how to prepare for your procedure. They’ll ask about your dental and medical history. It’s important to let them know about any medical conditions, allergies or recent surgery, as well as any medicines you’re taking.

Your dentist will discuss with you what will happen before, including any pain you might have. If you’re unsure about anything, ask. No question is too small. Being fully informed will help you feel more at ease and will allow you to give your consent for the procedure to go ahead. You may be asked to do this by signing a consent form.

The procedure: tooth removal

Once you’re sitting comfortably in a chair, your dentist will inject a local anaesthetic into the area around your tooth or teeth. They’ll wait a few minutes to allow the injection to work and ask you a few questions to see if it’s taking effect. The roots of your tooth sit in a socket (hole) in your gum. Your dentist will widen your tooth socket and gently loosen your tooth before they remove it. Sometimes your dentist may need to put a stitch in the empty socket to help it heal.

You’ll feel some pressure in your mouth when you have a tooth removed but it shouldn’t be painful. If you do feel any pain, let your dentist know straightaway

Care after tooth extraction 

Control bleeding 

the dentist will situate a gauze pack on the extraction site and ask you to bite down. This applies pressure to the torn blood vessels and controls the flow of blood from the open tooth socket. The gauze bite pack should be left in place for between 15 and 30 minutes to allow the blood to clot and stop flowing. If there is still bleeding after removing the bite pack make another one by simply folding gauze into a bite-sized pillow, dampen it with warm water, and reinsert it into the extraction site.

If you don’t have any gauze you can use a tea bag as a makeshift bite pack. Dipping a tea bag in warm water and placing it on the bleeding area can have some extra soothing and medicinal benefits thanks to the tannins contained in tea. Tannins have antimicrobial properties that can kill bacteria and prevent infection. Additionally, it has also been reported that tannins can help to speed up the blood clotting process and stop bleeding.

  • Avoid drinking hot drinks

Smoking after tooth extraction 

It is important not to smoke immediately after having a tooth removed. The sucking action of inhaling smoke can disrupt the blood clot that has formed over the nerve endings and bone and can cause bleeding to restart or a dry socket to form. Also, cigarette smoke can contaminate the wound and potentially cause an infection. It is advisable to avoid smoking for as long as possible, but at the very least, it should be 24 hours after extraction

use hot salty mouthwashes

After 24 hours have passed and the blood clot has had a chance to set and harden it is possible to use hot salty mouthwashes ( stir 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water) 3 times daily to help clean the wound and encourage healing. It is advisable to carry on using these salty mouthwashes for the next three days to ensure a fast recovery.

Brushing after tooth extraction 

it is okay to brush teeth on the night of the extraction provided great care is taken around the wound. It is important to keep the mouth clean to avoid infection and to remove the bad taste and bad breath that are common side effects of having a tooth removed. Do not rinse out the mouth on the first day to avoid disturbing the blood clot that has formed in the tooth socket.

Eating and Drinking After Tooth Extraction 

Some swelling and slight discomfort are normal after a tooth extraction procedure. Minimizing spitting, rinsing, and agitation of the surgical site after extraction will prevent irritation of the gums and allow a stable blood clot to form to avoid prolonged bleeding.

  • In most cases, pain can be managed easily with over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen. Avoid taking aspirin for pain relief, as this can promote bleeding. If your dentist has prescribed stronger pain medication, follow the instructions from the pharmacy and consider alternating prescription with non-prescription medication as you heal.
  • Swelling may occur immediately after tooth extraction, or it may develop several days later. If you experience swelling, you can apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek. Even if you do not experience initial swelling, applying an ice pack for several hours after extraction can reduce the chances of swelling that may develop during the healing process.

If you have any questions or concerns about impacted wisdom teeth or tooth extraction aftercare, you can click here for personalized answers and advice .

Complications of tooth removal 

Complications are when problems occur during or after a procedure. Complications of having a tooth removed include the following.

  • Damage to other teeth. This might happen when your dentist removes your tooth, particularly if the teeth next to the one being removed have a large filling or crown.
  • Sensitive teeth. The teeth next to the one that’s removed may feel sensitive and this may last several weeks.
  • Poor healing. If the blood doesn’t clot in your tooth socket, it won’t heal properly. This is called dry socket and can be very painful. You’re more likely to develop dry socket if you smoke or take oral contraceptives. See your dentist straightaway. They’ll put a dressing in the socket and prescribe you some antibiotics.
  • A nerve injury. You might get a tingling or pins and needles or a numb feeling in your gum near the tooth socket. This may be caused if your nerves are bruised in the procedure but it won’t usually last long.