Published on April 12, 2019, Updated on November 2, 2021
Your dentist will provide you detailed instructions of what you can expect after your tooth has been extracted. These instructions will be provided to you usually in the form of leaflets. You will need to follow the instructions or you could be delaying the healing time, or in the worst case, you may end up with a dry socket. Find out about safe tooth pulling.
Given below are some of the do’s and don’ts after an extraction.
- Rest. Stay away from strenuous activities for a minimum of 24 hours. You should keep your head in a slightly upright position whenever you rest in order to prevent bleeding.
- Let the blood clot. The buildup of clot over the extraction site acts as a cover and speeds up the healing process. The clot will also assist the wound to stop bleeding.
- Apply an ice pack. Applying an ice pack on the side of the face where the extraction has been performed can help in reducing the swelling. Simple extractions will not need an ice pack as it is unlikely to swell but several cases have been observed where the swelling has happened several hours after the procedure. The application of an ice pack is most effective on the day of the extraction. The effectiveness of the ice pack reduces significantly if you decide to use the same after a day.
- Smoke. Resist the urge to smoke for a minimum of 48 hours after the extraction. Certain chemicals which are present in cigarettes have the potential to affect or delay the healing time. This may be a result of having a dry socket.
- Skip the medicine. Take the medication as prescribed by your dentist. Antibiotics can help to prevent infections and the painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are capable of reducing pain and swelling. Take the medication according to the prescription without missing a day to avoid slowing down the healing process.
- Take aspirin. Aspirin is a blood thinner and will prevent the blood from clotting thereby delaying the healing time.
- Poke into the gap. It is quite normal to feel awkward about the fresh gap created in your mouth after the extraction process. However, it is recommended that you do not prod the area with your tongue or even a toothpick. This will further delay the healing process or could even lead to having a dry socket.
Extractions have some risks of their own just as any other dental procedures. Mentioned below are some of the risks for your benefit:
- The most common risk is having a dry socket. This condition can occur after extraction procedures even when they have been completed perfectly because the blood clot may not have formed or may have broken down too early. In a dry socket, the bone under the extracted part is exposed to air or food. This can be painful for the patient and usually causes bad odor or bad taste.
- Infections can happen but it is usually in rare cases, unless the patient has a weak immune system.
Other risks include:
- The extraction is incomplete. This is usually the case when the root of the tooth remains in the jaw. The solution is to remove the root to prevent infections but it is not as risky to leave a small root tip in place.
- Soreness of the jaw or jaw joint. If it is difficult for you to open your mouth wide it could be because of soreness in the region.
- Numbness in the lower lip and chin. This happens due to injury in the inferior alveolar in your lower jaw. It is not a common problem but when it does happen the complete healing time could get extended from 3 to 6 months. In rare conditions, the numbness could be a permanent problem.
When To Call Your Dentist
It is normal for you to feel some pain as the anesthesia begins wearing off. You may also expect some swelling and the residual bleeding 24 hours after the extraction. However, if the bleeding persists and/or you are experiencing severe pain after 24 hours following the extraction it will be necessary for you to call your dentist immediately. You should call the dentist whenever you experience any of the following.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Excessive discharge, redness, or swelling from the infected area.
- Shortness of breath or coughing.
- Chest pain.
- Signs of infections such as fevers and chills.
- The tongue or chin feels numb for 3 to 4 hours after the extraction.
- You have difficulty swallowing.
- The extraction becomes extremely painful which could be because you may have developed a dry socket.