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After Tooth Extractions

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There are a number of reasons that your dentist might recommend a tooth extraction. Some dental patients suffer from tooth decay; others need to remove teeth hindering orthodontic treatment, whereas various patients simply need wisdom teeth removal. While a tooth extraction is an important dental procedure, aftercare is just as important as the procedure itself. As the dental patient, it is important to understand that pain and the risk of infection can be lessened with proper care.

Care immediately following surgery:

  • Keep pressure on the gauze pad that your Oral Surgeon placed over the surgical area by gently biting down. Dampen the gauze with water if it begins to dry out. Try to maintain constant pressure in intervals of 45-60 minutes, repeating as often as needed, or until bleeding lessens.  Change the gauze as needed. 
  • Keep your head elevated and try to lower your activity level as much as possible.
  • Starting the morning after surgery, rinse mouth with warm salt water after every meal/snack. Avoid using any mouthwash containing alcohol for two weeks, as it can irritate the wound.
  • Keep your mouth clean by brushing your teeth, being careful of the areas around the surgical site; but be sure to avoid sutures. Touching the wounded area in any fashion should be prevented.
  • Use ice packs, in 20 minute intervals, to control swelling by placing them on facial areas near extraction.
  • Take all prescribed medications accordingly. If any itching or swelling occurs, contact our office immediately at 847-882-9448.
  • Eat softer foods, preferably high in protein. Examples: eggs, pasta, mashed potatoes, soups (room temperature) etc. Avoid any spicy or crunchy foods or any foods with seeds.  Avoid milk products (shakes and yogurt) for the first day if you had sedation. Milk products can cause nausea following sedation.   
  • Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, but do not drink through a straw for the next 5-7 days.
  • If you are a regular tobacco user refrain from smoking for the next 3-4 days as smoking increases your chances of getting a dry socket as well as an infection.
  • Reduce activity level for a few days, keep head elevated when laying down.

After your tooth has been extracted, healing will take some time. Within 3 to 14 days, your sutures should fall out or dissolve. Your tooth’s empty socket will gradually fill in with bone over time and smooth over with adjacent tissues.

Possible complications after a tooth extraction

Bleeding – Bleeding after a tooth extraction is entirely normal. A pinkish tinted saliva and subtle oozing is fairly common during the first 48 hours. If bleeding gets excessive, control it by using dampened gauze pads and biting down to keep pressure on the area. As an alternative to gauze pads, a moistened tea bag can be used, as the tannic acid helps blood vessels contract. Apply pressure to the gauze or tea bag by gently biting down for 30-45 minutes. Please remember that raised tempers, laying flat, and exercise can all increase blood flow to the head, which can cause excess bleeding. Try to avoid these as much as possible. If your bleeding does not reduce after 48 hours, please call our office at 847-882-9448.

Dry socket – In the days that follow your tooth extraction, discomfort should gradually subside. Rarely, patients report that pain increases to a throbbing unbearable pain that shoots up towards the ear. Often this is a case of dry socket. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot becomes irritated and ousted before healing is complete. Food and debris can then get into the socket causing irritation. Tobacco users and women taking oral contraceptives are at a higher risk of getting dry socket. Dry socket is not an infection but does require a visit to our office. If you think you may be suffering from dry socket, please contact our office immediately.

Lightheadedness - Because you may have been fasting prior to surgery, your blood sugar levels may be lower than normal. Until your body has had the chance to catch up and process some sugars, you should remember to stand up slowly when getting up from a relaxed position.

Numbness – Many patients report still feeling numb hours after their tooth extraction procedure. An extended lack of feeling around the mouth is normal and can last 10-12 hours after surgery.

Swelling – Swelling should subside almost entirely within 10 days after surgery. Immediately following your tooth extraction, apply an ice pack to the facial areas near the extraction. Continue using the ice in 20 minute intervals for the first 48 hours. After 48 hours, ice will no longer be beneficial in reducing swelling and moist heat should be used instead. To decrease swelling, apply a warm damp cloth to the sides of your face.

Trismus (difficulty opening and closing mouth) – If you experience a sore jaw and difficulty chewing or swallowing, do not be alarmed. Occasionally patients’ chewing muscles and jaw joints remain sore 3-5 days after surgery. This soreness can also make it difficult to open and close your mouth. Soreness should eventually subside.

If you have any questions or concerns call our office at 847-882-9448.

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