Teeth are meant to last a lifetime, but tooth extractions are common procedures. Blame gum disease, crowded teeth, trauma, decay and infection.
Typically, your dentist will offer instructions to care for the extraction site to ensure it heals quickly and properly.
In addition, we’ve compiled a few do’s and don’ts post-procedure. By following these tips (and your dentist’s instructions), your tooth extraction recovery will take (hardly) no time at all.
Tooth Extraction: The Do’s and Don’ts
Want a smooth and speedy recovery? Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow after a tooth extraction
1 Get Some Rest
After the procedure, it’s best not to overexert yourself, especially for the first 24 hours. So, refrain from heavy exercise and unnecessary stooping or bending. As lying flat can prolong healing, our dentists recommend keeping your head in an upright position similar to sleeping with a pillow. Proper rest promotes faster recovery.
2. Follow the Dentist’s Instructions
Following the procedure, your dentist will place gauze in the area for you to bite on. This helps a blood clot form within the socket and stop the bleeding. Make sure the gauze remains in place for at least 30 minutes after the extraction, even if you don’t think it’s bleeding any more.
Some patients may need to keep it in place longer for the clot to form. If you experience this, be sure to place fresh gauze on the extraction site every 30 minutes. Remember, don’t chew the gauze. Gently biting down is sufficient.
3. Avoid Food and Drinks
It’s best to carefully watch your diet immediately after a tooth extraction. Often, the procedure will leave jawbone tissue exposed, and the blood clot can be easily dissolved or destroyed. Avoid consuming hot foods and liquids such as coffee, tea and soup.
Stick to soft foods such as eggs, yogurt, potato, pudding, cold soup and dairy products during the healing process. Smoothies are fine but avoid consuming them (or any liquid) with a straw as this can apply pressure to the healing wound and may dislodge the blood clot.
As the extraction site heals, gradually reintroduce semi-solid and solid foods. Avoid hard foods such as nuts, popcorn, chips and fried foods for at least three to four days or until you are advised to resume your regular diet.
4. Take Pain Medication (As Directed)
As the anesthesia wears off you will feel discomfort and pain. Your dentist will likely prescribe pain medication for the first day or two. Follow prescription directions, making sure not to miss any doses to avoid pain.
1. Blow Your Nose
If you’ve had a tooth extracted from your upper jaw, refrain from blowing your nose as this can create pressure that dislodges the developing blood clot.
2. Consume Alcohol/Carbonated Drinks or Smoke
Do not consume alcohol for at least the first 48 hours after the tooth extraction as it slows the healing process. Also avoid carbonated or fizzy drinks as these can dislodge the blood clot.
Smoking isn’t recommended either as it creates the same pressure in the mouth as using a straw. Furthermore, nicotine can affect the clot by constricting blood vessels, extending healing time. It also increase the chances of the extraction site developing a dry socket which can leave bones and nerves exposed, making it necessary to seek additional dental care. Left untreated, it can also lead to infections or other complications.
3. Brush, Gargle or Floss
Refrain from brushing, flossing or gargling until your dentist says it’s safe. This advice may seem counterintuitive, as they help maintain proper oral hygiene, but you run the risk of dislodging the blood clot that forms on the extraction site. As mentioned, this exposes your jawbone tissue which delays proper healing. Once your dentist gives you the go-ahead, brush and floss the area gently, ideally with a soft-bristle brush.
4. Poke the Socket
As tempting as it may be, poking the empty area can dislodge the blood clot, causing more bleeding and resulting in dry socket. Touching the area with your finger can have the same result. Avoid using toothpicks too until the extraction site is completely healed.
How long will it take for the tooth extraction site to heal completely?
If you’re healthy and fit, expect it to heal within 7 to 10 days, if you follow these guidelines. Doing so prevents interruption of the healing process from infection. Make sure you follow any additional postoperative care instructions from your dentist.
Tooth extractions are common for both adults and children. If your pain doesn’t subside in the first two to three days, contact your dentist. And if you suffer from other symptoms such as chest pain, vomiting, nausea or fever, seek immediate medical assistance. Once your mouth has fully healed, you can resume your regular dental routines.