Things to Do After Tooth Extraction

Whether your tooth has been severely damaged by decay or infection, root canal therapy has failed, or overcrowding causes issues, extractions may be an effective solution. But before going under the knife it’s essential that you know what to expect during and post procedure and how best to care for the healing site.

Swelling, bruising and bleeding are among the most frequently reported side effects following tooth extraction. Avoiding strenuous activities and taking medication as prescribed can speed up recovery time and aid speedy healing.

1. Rest

After having your tooth extracted, recovery time varies widely, but rest is always key in order for the body to focus its energies on healing itself and avoid complications like infections or complications caused by inflammation.

At this stage, it is best to refrain from engaging in activities that could increase bleeding or dislodge any blood clots that have formed within your socket. Use ice to reduce swelling and take all prescribed medications as instructed. Gently rinse your mouth four times daily with warm water containing salt to maintain good oral hygiene.

2. Ice

Use ice to relieve pain, swelling and speed up healing. Furthermore, it may help prevent bruising and blood flow issues.

Clamp down gently but firmly on the gauze pad placed by your dentist to reduce bleeding and encourage clotting at the tooth extraction site, and replace as needed.

After an extraction, do not rinse vigorously, use straws, smoke or brush the area for at least 24 hours after to prevent dislodging of blood clot which forms in an empty tooth socket and leading to painful dry socket complications.

3. Pain Medication

Your dentist may request that you bite down for up to 24 hours post-procedure on a piece of dry gauze to reduce bleeding and promote clotting. Beware of anything such as rinsing, spitting or using straws which could dislodge the clot and impair healing.

When necessary, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can be effective at providing post-extraction pain relief. For severe discomfort, stronger prescription may be prescribed by medical professionals but only as directed to reduce potential addiction and side effects.

4. Floss

Tooth extractions should only be undertaken when there is severe tooth decay resulting in nerve damage, an infected or dead tooth which cannot be saved with root canal treatment, problematic wisdom teeth or overcrowdedness of existing teeth; or when space needs to be made available for dentures.

While oral hygiene is of great importance, avoid brushing the area directly surrounding an extraction site until it heals – this could dislodge any blood clot and lead to complications. Instead, carefully brush remaining teeth and rinse four times daily with warm salt water rinse.

5. Soft Foods

Foods requiring excessive chewing may irritate the extraction site and dislodge blood clots, so during recovery it’s wise to choose soft food diets or liquids as part of your recovery strategy.

Be sure to consume nutritious foods that contain proteins, vitamins A and C, zinc and iron – such as red meat. Beware any spicy or crunchy items. Rinsing four times a day with saline rinses can help decrease bacteria and infection in the mouth as well as keep blood from collecting in empty sockets, helping minimize pain and swelling.

6. Avoid Straws

After an extraction, it’s not unusual to experience some post-op bleeding. To help ensure a proper blood clot forms and facilitate healing, follow post-operative instructions with care – vigorous rinsing or drinking through a straw could dislodge the blood clot and hinder recovery.

Avoid foods that require much chewing, like smoothies, pudding and mashed potatoes; adding protein powder as a boost of nutrition could be even better! Fluffy scrambled eggs also offer excellent options as their soft texture allows easy chewing without bothering an empty tooth socket.

7. Drink Plenty of Water

After your procedure, it is vital to drink plenty of water in order to maintain cleanliness and avoid infection. Rinsing with warm salt water several times each day may also help in this regard.

Avoid drinking hot liquids or food as this could dissolve a blood clot and lead to dry socket and other complications.

To treat post-extraction pain, medication such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) should be taken according to manufacturer recommendations and taken promptly after extraction. Doing this will help relieve discomfort more effectively.

8. Follow-Up Care

At times, extraction may be necessary in order to address serious tooth decay, infection, impacted wisdom teeth and periodontic conditions. Furthermore, extraction may also be recommended if root canal therapy or another form of treatment cannot save a particular tooth from extraction.

After having a tooth extracted, it’s critical that proper care be taken with regard to the blood clot that forms in its empty socket in order to prevent painful complications such as dry socket and studies have demonstrated that phone call follow-up significantly improves compliance with post-extraction instructions.

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