Have you ever wondered what to do after tooth extraction?
Even though a tooth extraction is usually only carried out as a last resort, there are many reasons why teeth may need to be pulled. It could be because a tooth is impacted and undermining adjacent healthy teeth. Alternatively, the tooth could be diseased, and removal is now the only option. Or, in cases of overcrowding, tooth extraction is carried out to make better space in the mouth to allow for a healthy smile.
Whatever the reasons for your tooth extraction, it’s important to note that there are do’s and don’ts that you really should follow after the extraction process. So without further ado, let’s dive in and take a closer look…
Firstly the do’s
Rest and recuperation
Okay, so after a tooth extraction you don’t necessarily need to be bedridden, but what you don’t want to do is to over exert the area – especially within the first 24 hours. With this in mind, try to avoid any unnecessary bending and stooping and definitely avoid exercise. Try where possible to keep your head in an upright position – similarly when you sleep at night, as this will aid a speedy recovery. Rest gives your body the ammunition it needs to get you back to normal fast, so do take advantage of it.
Let the tooth extraction site clot
When a tooth is extracted, you’ll normally be asked to bite down on a piece of gauze for 30 minutes to 1 hour after the event. This is so that the tooth extraction site forms a blood clot. This is normal and is part of the healing process The clot acts as a barrier protecting the site so it needs to be allowed to form. If it isn’t allowed to form, then the bone and nerves underneath can be exposed to air, food or fluids, thus inviting infection. You may want to change the gauze if bleeding is particularly heavy, but most importantly follow the dentist’s instructions.
Drink plenty of water
After an hour or so, once the blood clot is formed, it’s vital for any recovery process that you keep hydrated, so drink plenty of water. Be careful not to swish it about too much in your mouth and avoid drinking through a straw – any sucking action will disturb the newly formed blood clot. After tooth extraction, you can also mix a little water with salt to make a light saline solution. This can then be moved gently over the area but do avoid spitting. Instead, let any excess water fall out of your mouth into the sink naturally.
Consider ice packs
When it comes to simple tooth extractions, patients shouldn’t expect to see any swelling. However, in cases where an extraction involves a more complex procedure, patients may see some degree of swelling.
This is perfectly natural and usually starts within the first 24 hours and reaches a maximum up until the 2nd or 3rd day. If your tooth extraction appears to be anything less than straight forward, your dentist will probably suggest that you apply an ice pack to quickly reduce any swelling present. If this is the case, then you should look to apply ice to the side of the face where the procedure took place in 15-minute intervals – 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off. This should be done for a period of one to two hours.
Please note that ice packs are mainly beneficial when applied within the first 24 hours after tooth extraction. So start them early if necessary.
Finally, return to your dentist if bleeding persists after 24 hours or you experience major discomfort then return to your dentist. It could be that there is a problem with the tooth extraction site and it needs further investigation. Remember problems are always easier to address and treat when spotted early, so don’t ignore any unnecessary symptoms.
So now you know what to do after tooth extraction, let’s take a closer look at the things you really shouldn’t be doing.
Now the don’ts
If you do smoke, you should quit for 48 hours at least. The chemicals found in tobacco smoke can affect the clot and increase the chances of your tooth extraction developing a dry socket.
Drinking alcohol/carbonated drinks
It’s also advisable not to drink any fizzy drinks or alcohol for four days after the tooth extraction process as this again can dislodge any blood clots that have otherwise been formed.
Avoid certain foods
For the first 24 hours at least, try to avoid foods that are chewy, crunchy or spicy, and stay away from foods containing grains and seeds. The reason is that they can irritate the extraction site. Instead, opt for softer foods like soup, scrambled egg, mashed potatoes, fish and yoghurts but try to avoid extremes of temperature – e.g. anything too hot or cold.
Don’t poke around the tooth extraction site
Having a tooth removed may seem a little strange at first but it’s important to avoid poking it with your tongue, finger, tissue or toothpick. It can destroy any blood clot formed, provoke further bleeding and lead to a dry socket.
So there you have it…what to do after tooth extraction and what not to do.
If you are worried about the tooth extraction process or you have any questions or concerns, then come and talk to the team at Oral rehabilitation center. We use the latest gentle techniques coupled with experience to make the process as comfortable as possible for every patient.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.