What to Expect After a Tooth Extraction


Sometimes, the most effective way to resolve an oral health situation is to remove the tooth (or teeth) causing the problem. Tooth extraction can become necessary for many reasons, including:

  • Advanced tooth decay, particularly if it has compromised the structure of the tooth
  • Infection in the tooth pulp
  • Chronic or severe gum disease that has caused the tissues around the tooth to deteriorate
  • A cracked or broken tooth that cannot be fixed with a crown

Tooth extraction is also a necessary step if a patient is undergoing a full mouth reconstruction including placement of individual dental implants or an entire arch of implanted overdentures. Recovery from a tooth extraction goes more smoothly when you understand what to expect and how to care for yourself in the days after the procedure.

What You Should Expect After A Tooth Extraction

It is important to pay close attention to your dentist’s instructions following the extraction. Some of their guidance may include:

  1. Bite down on a gauze pad over the extraction site for the first three to four hours to retain the blood clot that forms in the tooth socket. This clot is vital for preventing dry socket.
  2. Take your prescribed or over-the-counter painkillers as directed. Contact your dentist if the discomfort doesn’t begin to subside after a day or two.
  3. If your discomfort worsens after a few days, call your dentist. They may need you to come in to rule out an infection.
  4. Reduce swelling by applying ice to the area of your face over the extraction site every 10 minutes.
  5. Limit your activity for the first 24 hours after the tooth extraction. Do not rinse your mouth or spit forcefully during this time to avoid dislodging the blood clot.
  6. Consume a diet of soft, cool foods – including pudding, yogurt, and applesauce – during the first week of healing from the procedure.
  7. Brush and floss regularly during the healing process, but avoid the extraction site.  Again, do nothing to disturb the blood clot.
  8. Don’t smoke for at least 48 hours after your procedure, and be sparing after that. Tobacco use after oral surgery can delay healing and increase your risk of complications.

“Tooth extractions don’t have to be difficult procedures if the patient understands what to expect and focuses on self-care during the first days afterward,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist practicing in central Phoenix and the founder of Dr. Carol Ford & Associates. “Never hesitate to give our office a call if you have questions after a tooth extraction.”


  1. I found it interesting when you said to avoid brushing where the tooth was pulled out during the healing process. My uncle needs to have a tooth extraction this month since his tooth is decaying. I’ll be sure to share these tips with him when he gets his tooth extracted.

  2. I like how you explained that if someone’s gum around a tooth is deteriorating from serious gum disease then they’ll most likely need to extract it. My oldest son has been feeling a lot of pain in his gums lately. I’ll take him to a dentist and see if he has gum disease or not and if they’ll need to extract a tooth to help it.

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