Tooth extraction means the dentist removes a tooth from the mouth of a patient. For some adults, it’s necessary to improve the health of the mouth, gums and remaining teeth. The procedure sounds scary but it’s something a dentist in Portland, Oregon might do thousands of times a year. What should you do after the tooth extraction?
Why Pull a Tooth?
Tooth extractions are common in adults and done for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the dentist finds an infection in the tooth or maybe there is enough decay to put you at risk of an infection that could progress to other areas like your heart.
Gum disease can make the tooth unstable, too. Trauma can fracture teeth enough that repair isn’t an option.
What is a Tooth Extraction Like?
It starts with a local anesthetic so you won’t feel pain. If the extraction is simple, the dentist will use a special tool to rock the tooth until it is loose and then remove it with forceps.
For more difficult extractions, the dentist may give you medication to make you sleepy or a general anesthetic so you are not awake during the procedure. A surgical extraction involves cutting gum and bone to gain better access to the problem tooth.
Once the tooth is out, a blood clot forms in the socket and gauze packing helps control the bleeding. A couple of stitches might be necessary to close open gum tissue.
What You Should Do After the Extraction?
The dentist and staff will give you instructions on how to care for your mouth after the tooth is out. It will take about a week to heal and you may be sore for a few days. A small amount of bleeding is normal.
Common aftercare instructions include:
- Leaving the gauze in place for three to four hours unless there is a lot of oozing. In that case, it might be necessary to change the gauze every 30 minutes or so
- Taking the pain medication as prescribed
- Applying an ice pack to that side of your face for 10 minutes at a time to ease the swelling and pain
- Resting for the first 24 hours after the procedure and limiting your activity for several days
- Sleeping with your head elevated to improve healing
After 24 hours, rinse your mouth gently with eight ounces of warm water mixed with one teaspoon of salt. Tell your doctor if you have allergies and what medication you take for them. It may be a good idea to take the medication to prevent sneezing and coughing but check first if you are taking pain medication at the same time.
Things to Avoid
There are things you should avoid doing to protect the blood clot in the tooth socket, as well. The clot is what stops the bleeding and begins the healing process.
You need to avoid:
- Vigorous rinsing
- Brushing and flossing near the socket
- Sucking on candy
- Using a straw
- Hot beverages
- Carbonated or alcoholic beverages
- Foods that are hard to chew
Start eating regular food again when it is comfortable, but try to avoid chewing on that side of your mouth. Feel free to call the office if you have any questions about the procedure or aftercare instructions.