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Man in pain holding jaw

While the prevalence of partial and total tooth loss has decreased, a 2022 study reported half of American adults aged 20-64 had lost at least one permanent tooth due to decay or gum disease, excluding wisdom teeth.

Tooth extraction is the only option when a tooth becomes so severely decayed that a root canal procedure cannot save it. Tooth extraction is a routine dental procedure where a tooth is removed from its socket in the jawbone. Aftercare is critical as proper management can prevent complications and speed recovery.

Immediate Post-Extraction Experience

Immediately following the extraction, the dentist places a gauze pack on the site to limit bleeding and aid clot formation. You must bite down on this gauze for 30-45 minutes. Some swelling and pain are expected, so your dentist may prescribe over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers to minimize discomfort.

Bleeding and Clot Formation

Bleeding after tooth extraction is normal and typically ceases within 24 hours. It’s important to allow the blood clot to form and stay in place at the extraction site because it is a protective layer over the underlying bone and nerve endings, initiating the healing process.

Avoid rinsing, spitting, or sucking actions (like using a straw) for the first 24 hours, as these can dislodge the clot, leading to a painful secondary condition known as dry socket.

Pain Management and Swelling

Mild to moderate pain and swelling are normal after tooth extraction. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage pain, while applying an ice pack intermittently to the affected area can reduce swelling. However, if pain and swelling persist beyond 72 hours, seek professional medical advice; it may indicate that the extraction site has become infected.

Oral Hygiene Post-Extraction

Maintaining oral hygiene after an extraction is essential but must be done carefully. After 24 hours, you can gently swish your mouth with a warm salt water solution (½ a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day to remove food particles, reduce inflammation, and kill bacteria. Avoid brushing teeth near the extraction site for the first 72 hours.

Eating and Drinking

After extraction, stick to soft and liquid foods like soups, yogurts, and mashed potatoes. Avoid hot, hard, spicy, or chewy foods that could irritate the extraction site or dislodge the clot. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and hot beverages in the initial days following the extraction.

Rest and Recovery

Give your body ample time to recover after tooth extraction. Rest, avoid strenuous activities, and keep your head elevated to minimize bleeding and swelling. Vigorous activities and motions like bending can increase cranial pressure, potentially dislodging the blood clot and increasing the risk of bleeding. You should be able to return to regular activities within 72 hours.

Signs of Complications

While complications are rare, watch for signs such as persistent pain or swelling, uncontrolled bleeding, fever, or signs of infection like pus or a foul smell. If these symptoms occur, contact your dentist immediately.

Follow-Up and Long-Term Care

A follow-up visit to the dentist may be scheduled to remove stitches (if they are not self-dissolving) and ensure proper healing. For the missing tooth, depending on the case, the dentist may suggest options like dental implants, bridges, or dentures.

Knowing what to expect after tooth extraction and following your dentist’s instructions can help the recovery process go smoothly. Contact Smile On Dental Salon & Sleep Apnea Center if you have concerns about your post-extraction recovery.

Be proud of your smile.