Whether you have crowded teeth, damage, or infection, sometimes a tooth extraction is unavoidable. While no one looks forward to losing a tooth, this is one of the most common procedures I perform. Here are some helpful tips to aid your recovery before and after your tooth extraction.
What to Expect from the Tooth Extraction Procedure
Prior to tooth extraction, it is important to practice good dental hygiene. Keeping your mouth clean can help aid your recovery by decreasing the likelihood of infection.
If a tooth is determined to be severely infected or beyond saving, together we may decide to extract your tooth.
The extraction of impacted teeth and wisdom teeth may require a longer recovery time than other procedures. In some cases, I may need to cut the tooth and extract it in pieces. If surgical removal is required, I use stitches to help aid in healing.
Once the procedure is finished, I place gauze into the socket to help form a blood clot to stop the bleeding. The gauze must remain in place for at least half an hour. If the site is still bleeding, repeat this step for an additional 30 minutes.
Some discomfort is expected after any surgery, and tooth extraction is no different. The length of your recovery will depend on a number of factors, including your dental hygiene, how healthy your gums and jaw are, and the type of tooth extraction performed.
We will discuss the recovery timeline including medications that may assist, and once complete I can give you instructions for what to do after your tooth extraction.
What to Do After a Tooth Extraction
Generally, discomfort can be expected to last anywhere from a few days maybe even up to a week. Swelling is normal for up to two weeks following a tooth extraction. There are several ways to manage the discomfort and swelling during this recovery period.
Use Pain Relievers
I may prescribe a mixture of over-the-counter pain relievers and antibiotics, depending on the extent of your discomfort and type of procedure. The combination of these two helps prevent the risk of infection and manage tenderness and swelling.
Apply a Cold Compress
Ice is a natural way to decrease swelling. Ice the extraction site in 20-minute intervals for the first 3-6 hours after the procedure, allowing 20 minutes of rest in between cycles. As the area warms by returning blood, healing nutrients will return with it. Icing the area significantly reduces tenderness, swelling, and recovery time.
Avoid Dislodging the Blood Clot
A premature dislodging of the blood clot causes a condition called dry socket. This can leave nerves exposed which cause increased discomfort and chances of infection.
Refrain from spitting when you brush your teeth, drinking through a straw, or smoking for at least 24-48 hours following surgery, as the blood clot can be dislodged.
Rinse with Salt Water
After the first 24 hours, rinse your mouth a couple of times per day with warm salt water. The salt water solution will cleanse and disinfect the wound site. Rinse after each time you eat to clear your mouth of food particles. Gently swish the liquid in your mouth, and tip your head over the sink to allow it to fall out. Do not spit the salt water out.
Avoid any foods that risk irritating the wound site—anything spicy, crispy, crunchy, or sticky—until I confirm that you have fully healed. I recommend that you opt for soft foods such as yoghurt, soup, broth, smoothies, porridge, or soft boiled or poached eggs.
Rest is a vital part of your recovery. Avoid any strenuous activity and plan to have 2-3 days off from work or school after your extraction. This is why I try and schedule surgery on a Wednesday so you have a couple of days, plus the weekend to recover. While resting, try and keep your head elevated when lying down to reduce excess blood flow to the wound site and minimise inflammation or swelling.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
Tooth extractions are routine dental procedures. The Tooth Crusader team, Dr Hoy, Dr Bao and I will provide you with a comfortable, safe experience. However, if you encounter issues after the surgery please contact us immediately with any questions or concerns. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:
- Stubborn swelling that doesn’t abate with ice or medication
- Bad breath
- Persistent discomfort
- Excessive bleeding
Although tooth extractions are a routine procedure, a period of discomfort is the natural way our bodies heal. While healing just be mindful of the extraction site and if you have any concerns call us straight away.
If you feel you may need a tooth extraction or want to discuss or schedule a dental appointment to assess and discuss your oral health, contact Tooth Crusader on (02) 8203 8750. My staff and I are passionate about your dental health and well-being and can help you restore your smile following an extraction.