Tooth extraction aftercare is the care you need after tooth removal to speed the healing process, minimize the risk of infection, and prevent complications. As a part of tooth extraction aftercare, your dentist will give you instructions for the following days after tooth removal. These aftercare instructions explain:
- Will you need medications when you go home?
- How to control pain, bleeding, and swelling?
- What complications should you watch out for?
- What things should you do or avoid to support your recovery?
The Healing Process
After tooth extraction, a blood clot fills the extraction site (the socket). The blood clot stops the bleeding and protects the bone and nerve endings from infection. After 1 to 2 weeks, the gum tissue heals and closes the wound. In the socket, bone tissue formation begins after 3-4 weeks. The bone takes several months (up to 6 months) to heal completely.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare
Tooth extraction aftercare begins immediately after the procedure. It is very important to follow aftercare instructions after you leave the dental office. Take the prescribed medications, contact your dentist if you have any complications, and keep your follow-up appointment. Tooth extraction aftercare will allow smooth and speedy recovery without complication.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare: In The First 24 Hours
Keep in mind that your ability to drive may be reduced after tooth extraction because of anesthesia, especially if you have taken additional medications.
Take painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs as prescribed by your dentist to reduce pain and swelling. If antibiotics are prescribed, take it regularly and stick to the recommended dose. Also, avoid aspirin because it inhibits blood clotting.
The dentist will place a gauze pad on the extraction site. Bite firmly on the gauze pad for 30 minutes to stop the bleeding and don’t keep changing the gauze.
The blood clot fills the socket after tooth extraction and plays an important role in the healing process. The loss of blood clot makes the bone and nerve endings exposed and prone to infection. Therefore, you should:
- Avoid spitting, mouth rinsing, blowing your nose, using a straw, and smoking in the first 24 hours after tooth extraction.
- Don’t touch the extraction site with your finger or tongue.
- Avoid hot foods and drinks.
- Don’t take aspirin because it inhibits blood clotting.
- Avoid physical activities and exercise.
Apply ice packs to your face over the area where extraction is performed for the first 2-3 hours to reduce the swelling. Place a towel between your face and the ice pack to prevent direct skin contact and apply the packs 10 minutes on and 5 minutes off.
Eating and Drinking
Eat cool, soft foods such as pudding, yogurt, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs and avoid hot, hard, crunchy, and spicy foods. Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine (coffee and black tea) because they promote the bleeding tendency.
Avoid smoking for at least 24 hours. It interferes with the healing process and may cause the dislodging of the blood clot and dry socket.
After the bleeding has stopped, brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush and avoid the extraction site. Let water or saline solution roll around in your mouth but avoid vigorous rinsing.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare: After 24 Hours
- Rinse with a warm salt water to remove food debris and prevent infection. Simply, apply one-half tablespoon of salt in a cup of warm water.
- Eat cool, soft foods such as pudding, yogurt, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs and avoid hot, hard, crunchy, and spicy foods. It may take just a few days to return to your normal eating habits.
- Avoid exercise and lifting heavy objects.
- If stitches are placed, book a follow-up appointment to have these stitches removed.
- Contact your dentist if you have any complications such as persistent pain or prolonged bleeding.
When To Call a Dentist?
Tooth extraction aftercare will allow smooth and speedy recovery without complications. However, you should call your dentist or oral surgeon if you have:
- Prolonged bleeding.
- Severe pain for more than 2 days.
- The swelling gets worse.
- Numbness and taste disorder.
- Unpleasant smell/taste.
- Trismus (lockjaw).