Taking care of your dental health is essential, and sometimes that means undergoing a tooth extraction. Whether it’s due to tooth decay, orthodontic treatment, or wisdom teeth removal, proper aftercare is just as important as the procedure itself. By following a few simple steps, you can minimize pain and reduce the risk of infection. Let’s explore what you need to know about post-extraction care.
Care immediately following surgery
- Apply gentle pressure on the surgical area by biting down on a gauze pad. Dampen the gauze with water if it dries out. Repeat this every 45-60 minutes until bleeding lessens, changing the gauze as needed.
- Keep your head elevated and limit your activity level as much as possible.
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water every 1-2 hours, starting 48 hours after surgery. Avoid alcohol-containing mouthwash as it can irritate the wound.
- Brush areas around the surgical site to maintain oral hygiene, avoiding the sutures. Do not touch the wounded area.
- Control swelling by placing ice packs on facial areas near the extraction site.
- Take all prescribed medications as directed. Contact your dentist immediately or visit the nearest emergency room if you experience itching or swelling.
- Stick to softer foods, preferably high in protein.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, but avoid using a straw for the next 5-7 days.
- If you smoke, refrain from smoking for the next 3-4 days to reduce the risk of dry socket and infection.
Healing process and dissolving stitches
Once your tooth has been extracted, your body needs time to heal. Sutures usually dissolve or fall out within 3 to 14 days. If you have non-resorbable sutures, your dentist will schedule a follow-up appointment to remove them. Over time, the empty socket will fill in with bone and smooth over with surrounding tissues.
Possible complications after a tooth extraction
- Bleeding: It’s normal to experience some bleeding after a tooth extraction. If bleeding becomes excessive, apply dampened gauze pads or a moistened tea bag to the area and bite down for 30 minutes. Avoid activities that increase blood flow to the head. If bleeding doesn’t reduce after 48 hours, contact your dentist.
- Bone sequestra: Some patients may have small sharp tooth fragments that couldn’t be completely removed during surgery. These fragments, known as bone sequestra, gradually work themselves through the gums during the healing process. If you notice sharp fragments, notify your dentist immediately.
- Dry socket: In rare cases, pain may increase after the extraction, accompanied by throbbing pain radiating toward the ear. This could be a sign of dry socket, where the blood clot is dislodged prematurely. It’s essential to seek dental care if you suspect you have dry socket.
- Lightheadedness: Fasting before surgery can lead to lower blood sugar levels. To prevent lightheadedness, eat something soft and sugary, and stand up slowly when getting up from a relaxed position.
- Numbness: It’s normal to feel numbness around the mouth for up to 10-12 hours after the procedure.
- Swelling: Swelling should subside within 10 days after surgery. Apply ice packs for the first 36 hours, then switch to warm damp cloths to reduce swelling.
- Trismus: Soreness in the jaw and difficulty chewing or swallowing may persist for 3-5 days after surgery. This will gradually subside.
If you experience any complications or have concerns not mentioned here, contact your dentist immediately.
To ensure a healthy recovery from a tooth extraction, follow these guidelines closely. Remember, proper care after surgery can make all the difference in your healing process. For more dental tips and information, visit Make You Smile.