What To Do Following A Tooth Extraction

When a natural tooth is weakened due to infection, decay, or an injury, there are dental restorations that can protect it, such as a tooth-extractioncrown. Sometimes the tooth can be saved with a root canal. However in some cases, a tooth extraction may be your best option. In this case, your dentist or oral surgeon will schedule an extraction to remove the compromised teeth.

There are two kinds of tooth extractions. Simple extractions, where the tooth is visible above the gumline, can be removed with basic extraction tools. Surgical extractions, where the tooth has broken off at the gumline (or not erupted into the mouth), require an incision to remove the tooth and its root.

Post-extraction, basic care can speed your recovery.

What To Do After A Tooth Extraction

  1. Follow your dentist’s instructions to avoid dry socket. After the tooth is removed, the dentist will ask you to bite on a gauze pad over the extraction site to help a blood clot form. Leave the gauze pad in place for three to four hours, changing pads as needed.
  2. Reduce swelling by using ice on the affected area. Place an ice pack on the cheek next to the extraction site. Alternate 20 minutes with the ice bag on the cheek with 20 minutes off.
  3. Do not spit or rinse your mouth in the first 24 hours after the extraction. This can dislodge the blood clot and cause dry socket. After the first day, it is OK to rinse your mouth with a mix of a half-tablespoon of salt in eight ounces of water.
  4. Avoid smoking, using a straw or chewing near the impacted area for the first day or two. All of these can threaten healing.
  5. Limit your diet to soft foods the day after the extraction. Try soup, pudding, yogurt, applesauce, or similar foods. As your mouth heals, you can add foods more solid in nature.
  6. Call your dentist if you experience unusual post-procedure symptoms. These include excessive bleeding, a fever with chills, a cough, chest pain, nausea or vomiting.

“A tooth extraction can be the first step in improving your oral health,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist practicing in central Phoenix and the founder of Dr. Carol Ford & Associates. “Proper aftercare can ensure your recovery is rapid and that you experience a minimum of discomfort.”

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