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Tooth Extraction Aftercare Tips

What is Tooth Extraction?

Tooth extraction is a common dental procedure that involves removing a tooth from the mouth. This procedure is typically performed by a dentist or oral surgeon. Tooth extraction can be necessary for a variety of reasons, such as to remove a damaged or infected tooth, or to prepare the mouth for orthodontic treatment. 

Regardless of the reason for the extraction, it's important to properly care for the mouth after the procedure in order to promote healing and prevent complications. In this guide, we will discuss some important tips for tooth extraction aftercare. If at any point you develop concerns during the aftercare phase, contact your dentist.

Tooth extraction aftercare tips

Types of Tooth Extractions

  • Simple extraction: This type of extraction is used for teeth that are visible in the mouth and can be easily grasped with dental instruments. Simple extraction is relatively straightforward, usually possible with only a local anesthetic.
  • Surgical extraction: This type of extraction is used for teeth not easily accessible, such as impacted wisdom teeth or teeth that have broken off at the gum line. A surgical extraction may involve making an incision in the gum tissue, and removing bone or other tissue to access the tooth. Treatment can include suturing the gum tissue closed after the tooth has been removed.
  • Partial bony extraction: Partial bony extraction is used for teeth partially embedded in the jawbone where the removal of some bone tissue is required to extract the tooth. It is typically more complex than a simple extraction and may require sedation or general anesthesia.
  • Full bony extraction: Full bony extraction is used for teeth completely embedded in the jawbone and requires significant bone removal to extract the tooth. This is a more complex procedure that may require sedation or general anesthesia and may involve a longer recovery period.
  • Soft tissue extraction: This type of extraction is used for removing abnormal growths or lesions from the mouth, such as cysts or tumors. Soft tissue extraction may involve the removal of tissue from the gums, tongue, or cheek.

Why is Tooth Extraction Aftercare Important?

It’s likely every American will have to have a tooth pulled during some portion of their life. Whether as a child to make room for incoming adult teeth, the removal of wisdom teeth, or to extract a decayed tooth, extraction in one's lifetime can be hard to avoid. For example, it’s estimated roughly 85% of people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted. Caring for your mouth after having a tooth or teeth extracted is important to achieve a successful recovery and maintain good oral health.

Your dentist or oral surgeon will provide you with specific aftercare instructions. The steps may include things like taking prescribed medication, avoiding certain activities, and following a specific oral hygiene routine. For greater protection against any complications and to promote the healing process, see our tips below.

6 Must-Know Tips on Tooth Extraction Aftercare

Here are some key points to remember when caring for your mouth after tooth extraction:

1. Follow Your Dentist's Instructions Carefully

Your dentist will provide you with specific instructions for caring for your mouth after the extraction, and it's important to follow these instructions to the letter. This may include taking prescribed medications, avoiding certain foods and activities, and practicing good oral hygiene. Your dentist may remind you to be cautious about not biting your tongue while your mouth remains numb.

2. Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Avoid brushing or rinsing your mouth during the first 24 hours after the extraction. Afterward, brush your teeth at least twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. It's also essential to floss gently around the removal site to remove any food particles or plaque that may have accumulated. However, avoid using commercial mouthwashes or rinsing your mouth with hydrogen peroxide, as these can irritate the extraction site and slow the healing process.

3. Avoid Certain Foods and Activities

In the first few days after the extraction, avoid eating hard, crunchy, or sticky foods that could get stuck in the removal site. You can eat without restriction as soon as the time has passed and you are comfortable. You should also avoid using tobacco products, as they can cause the extraction site to become dry and increase the risk of infection. Additionally, avoid activities that could cause trauma to the removal site, such as strenuous exercise or contact sports for the first 24 hours.

4. Control Swelling and Discomfort

To reduce swelling, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth, near the extraction site. Make sure to wrap the cold compress in a clean cloth, and only apply it for 10-15 minutes at a time. To control discomfort, take over-the-counter pain medication as directed by your dentist. Avoid taking aspirin, as it can increase the risk of bleeding. The swelling should subside after about 48 hours.

5. Protect the Blood Clot

Assure the gauze remains in the mouth for 30 to 45 minutes, or as told by your dentist. This forms a blood clot to stop the bleeding and begin the healing process. Do not disturb or dislodge the clot. Avoid rinsing your mouth vigorously, sucking on straws, drinking alcohol, or spitting for 72 hours, as these activities can dislodge the blood clot and cause a condition called dry socket. If you notice that the blood clot has come out or that the extraction site is dry and painful, contact your dentist right away.

6. Watch for Signs of Infection

To reduce the risk of infection, practice good oral hygiene and avoid activities that could increase the risk of infection. Additionally, if you notice any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discomfort around the extraction site, contact your dentist right away.

Frequently Asked Questions on Tooth Extraction

What helps tooth extraction heal faster?

  • Adequate rest
  • Soft food diet
  • Abstain from smoking
  • Cold therapy via ice packs
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • A good oral hygiene routine

What can I have 3 days after tooth extraction?

It’s best to stick with softer foods to avoid irritating and applying pressure to the empty tooth socket. Example food choices could include soup, yogurt, or applesauce.

How many days should a person rest after tooth extraction?

It’s recommended to take 2-3 days or 48-72 hours to rest after having a tooth extracted. This is to assure the formation of a blood clot around the empty tooth socket.

How soon can I drink water after tooth extraction?

You should avoid drinking water during the first hour after the procedure. Once an hour has passed, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids at cool and not hot temperatures.

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