If you need to have a tooth pulled, we have some good news for you: tooth extraction is a very common procedure that is usually done quickly and with very little (if any) discomfort on the part of the patient. Thanks to modern dental techniques, effective anaesthetic, and a variety of dental sedation methods for patients to choose from, having a tooth pulled is normally a relatively simple procedure. But unlike other dental services, tooth extraction requires a certain amount of effort afterward on the part of the patient. If you have a tooth pulled, you’ll need to be diligent in following your dentist’s instructions in order to heal quickly. For dental patients from throughout the Cedar Park, Texas area, we’ve compiled the following information about what is involved in home care after the tooth extraction process.
How to Heal Quickly from Tooth Extraction
Once your tooth is removed by your dentist, you’ll be sent home with gauze gently packed into the extraction site. This is intended to help control bleeding after the procedure, and also to promote clotting. The clot that develops inside the socket not only promotes healing; it also protects against bad bacteria forming at the site. Your dentist will provide you with a full set of instructions on what to do and not to do after your procedure. While the exact instructions may vary slightly depending on each individual patient, what follows are typical directions that you can expect from your dentist.
- Managing pain: While it’s true that the procedure itself usually results in very little discomfort on the part of the patient, it’s normal to feel a certain amount of pain for the first few days after having a tooth pulled. Depending on how difficult the extraction was, your dentist may either prescribe pain medicine for you, or recommend that you use over-the-counter pain medication to alleviate any discomfort. Be sure to follow directions carefully when taking any form of pain medication. A cold compress can also help to reduce discomfort. The pain should subside significantly after about 3 days.
- The gauze: After a few hours, the gauze that your dentist placed in the extraction site will become soaked with blood. This is normal. In addition to controlling the bleeding, the gauze also helps to promote the formation of a blood clot in the socket. It’s important to maintain that clot. So after several hours, when the gauze becomes soaked with blood, you should replace it with fresh gauze – but this should be done very carefully, so you don’t disturb the clot that has formed in the socket. It’s normal for bleeding to continue for up to 24 hours after the procedure is complete. But if you notice bleeding beyond that point, you should call your dentist.
- Rest: One of the most important things you can do to promote quick healing is getting plenty of rest, especially for the first 24 hours after the procedure. It’s hard to get an adequate amount of rest if you’re in pain, which is why it’s so important to manage your level of discomfort with pain medication and/or a cold compress.
- Avoid rinsing: You will no doubt feel a strong urge to rinse your mouth out after having a tooth pulled, but you should avoid this for the first several hours after the procedure. If you rinse, you can dislodge the clot that is forming in the socket. If that happens, it will take longer to heal, and you run the risk of developing a dry socket, which can be very painful. For this reason, avoid rinsing your mouth out for the first few hours after the extraction.
- Avoid using straws, spitting, and blowing your nose: Immediately following having a tooth pulled and for the first few hours afterward, you should avoid doing anything that might dislodge the clot that is forming inside the socket. This includes using straws, spitting, and blowing your nose. If you’re a smoker, avoid smoking during this time as well since the action of puffing on a cigarette can also dislodge the clot.
- Keep your head elevated: For the first 24 hours after the extraction, keep your head elevated, including while you sleep. This will prevent blood from pooling, which can slow down the healing process.
- Avoid drinking alcohol: Drinking alcohol can slow down or even stop the clot from forming. Alcohol may also dislodge the clot, which can result in a dry socket. So avoid drinking alcohol after having a tooth pulled – particularly for the first 24 hours.
- Limit exercise: For the first 24 hours after the tooth extraction process, you should limit the amount of exercise you engage in since any kind of vigorous movement may dislodge the clot that has formed in the socket.
- Eat soft foods: For the first week to 10 days after having a tooth pulled, try to eat only soft foods. And avoid chewing on the location of the empty socket.
- Rinse with salt water: After the clot is securely formed inside the socket, you may want to rinse your mouth out with warm salt water a few times a day. This will help to kill bacteria inside the mouth and reduce the chance of developing an infection.
- Daily oral hygiene: You should maintain your regular oral hygiene routine of brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day, but avoid the empty socket altogether. The only cleaning that should be done around the socket area can be accomplished with a warm salt water rinse.
Home Care is a Vital Part of Tooth Extraction
Unlike many other dental procedures, many of which are over and done with once you leave the dentist’s chair, home care after the procedure is an extremely important part of any tooth extraction process. The instructions provided above are for Cedar Park, Texas patients who have had just a single tooth pulled. If you have multiple teeth extracted, your dentist may provide additional directions, and the healing process may take longer. And every patient is different, so if you have other oral health issues or conditions that may affect your healing, your dentist may make other recommendations for home care after the tooth extraction process. Talk to your dentist to find out more.