Having a tooth pulled may sound unsettling to most people, but the fact is that the actual process of tooth extraction is usually a relatively simple and quick procedure that is performed in countless dental offices throughout Cedar Park, Texas, and many other cities each and every day. And thanks to effective anaesthetic and dental sedation methods, most patients don’t feel any discomfort or pain during the procedure. But unlike most other dental procedures, patients need to follow very specific guidelines afterwards while they’re recovering at home in order to ensure complete and fast healing. What follows are some of the dos and don’ts after tooth extractions.
Dos – What You Should Do After a Tooth Extraction
- Keep the gauze in place. Immediately after extracting your tooth, your dentist will carefully pack the empty socket with gauze and will have you bite down on the gauze for at least 30 minutes if not longer. This is important for two reasons: 1) It helps stop the bleeding, and 2) even more importantly, it helps a clot to form inside the empty socket. You’ll need to carefully follow the instructions provided by your dentist to make sure that you do everything possible to protect the empty socket and the clot that has formed inside it. The clot protects you from developing an infection, helps the extraction site to heal quickly, and protects the nerves and capillaries in the socket. When the gauze becomes soaked with blood, you can replace it with clean gauze, but be very careful not to dislodge the clot when you do so.
- Get some rest. For at least the first 24 hours after having a tooth pulled, rest at home. Avoid doing any kind of strenuous exercise, and sleep with your head elevated to avoid blood pooling.
- Manage your pain/discomfort. Although most patients feel little or no discomfort while having a tooth pulled at the dentist’s office, it’s normal to experience some level of pain afterward. You should do whatever you can to minimize this discomfort. If your dentist prescribes pain medicine or suggests over-the-counter remedies, take the medication as recommended. You can also minimize discomfort by placing a cold compress or an ice pack for 15-minute intervals on the side of your face where your tooth was pulled. Managing your pain is obviously important because it allows you to feel better; but it also allows you to rest and sleep better, which is an integral part of the healing process.
- Stay with a liquid diet and/or very soft foods for the first 24 hours after the procedure, and avoid chewing on the side of your mouth where your tooth was pulled. Foods like soups, yogurts and smoothies are good choices for the first day or two of your recovery at home.
- After several hours have passed – typically at least 12 hours after the procedure – rinse your mouth out with warm salt water. This is a safe and effective way to clean your mouth and the extraction site. You can use warm salt water rinses a few times throughout the course of the day.
- Keep up with your daily oral hygiene routine. You might have to delay brushing and flossing for the first 12 hours or so after having a tooth pulled, but after that you can return to your normal daily hygiene routine with one very important difference: you’ll need to avoid the empty socket completely. This area can be cleaned with a warm salt water rinse, but don’t use a toothbrush or floss on or around the extraction site.
Don’ts – What You Should Avoid After a Tooth Extraction
- Avoid rinsing your mouth out for at least 12 hours after the procedure. Doing so can damage the clot inside the socket. After 12 hours or so, you can start to use a warm salt water rinse, as mentioned earlier.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol for at least 48 hours after having a tooth pulled. Chemicals in a smoke, as well as alcohol, can damage the clot that has formed inside the tooth socket. If that clot is damaged, it can lead to a dry socket – a condition that is not only painful, but also significantly slows the healing process.
- Don’t eat difficult-to-chew and/or hard foods for several day after the procedure, and avoid chewing any type of food in the area where your tooth was removed until the extraction site is completely healed.
- Avoid sucking and spitting. This type of action can dislodge the clot inside the socket. So don’t spit and avoid activities that result in sucking – such as smoking, drinking through a straw, or sucking on hard candy, for example.
- Don’t take aspirin. Remember that one of your main goals after a tooth extraction procedure is to maintain the integrity of the clot that has formed inside the empty socket. Aspirin is a blood thinner that can inhibit clot formation, and that can lead to a dry socket and/or increase the time it takes to heal.
- Avoid disturbing the empty socket. Whatever you do, avoid poking around inside your mouth anywhere close to the extraction site. If you do, you’ll most likely dislodge the clot, and that can lead to a painful dry socket and a prolonged period of time to heal completely.
Recovery At Home: An Important Part of the Tooth Extraction Process
You will play a major role in determining how long it takes to heal from having a tooth pulled. It’s all up to you when it comes to how closely you follow your dentist’s instructions. As long as you are careful to follow those directions, in addition to the tips provided in this article, your healing time will be relatively short and uneventful. Tooth extraction isn’t like most other dental procedures that are over and done the minute you leave the dentist’s chair. For Cedar Park, Texas, dental patients, healing quickly at home all depends on how carefully you follow the dos and don’ts after a tooth extraction.