What You Should Do After A Tooth Extraction
1. Get Some Rest
Even though you may feel just fine after a tooth extraction, don’t exercise or be too active. It is recommended to rest for a minimum of 24 hours with your head raised and supported with pillows in an upright position when lying down.
Let a clot form over the extraction site. The clot covers the open wound to prevent infection and speed up healing. A small piece of gauze will be placed over the wound after the extraction and your dentist will ask you to bite down on this gauze. This applies pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. Try biting down for at least an hour after the extraction and for longer if possible. Don’t chew on the piece of gauze. You can however replace the gauze every 1/2 hour or so depending on the amount of bleeding.
If the blood clot does become dislodged, the nerve endings will be exposed and you will feel pain. It will also cause the capillaries (which are tiny blood vessels) to constrict which reduces blood supply to the extraction site and slows down healing. If a blood clot doesn’t form and the bleeding continues a few hours after extraction, try placing a wet tea bag on the site. The tannic acid in black tea aids blood clotting. If this does not work, contact your local professional such as those at Fleet dental practice.
3. Apply Ice Packs
Apply an ice pack to the side of the face where the tooth was extracted to reduce inflammation or swelling. While swelling is not common after a simple extraction, it can occur where the cheek needs to be retracted in order to gain access to the tooth. Swelling may not be present immediately after the extraction and may take a while to appear. The swelling can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The swelling should reach its peak after day two or three after which it will decrease.
Applying an ice pack as soon as possible after the extraction and periodically throughout the day has been found to be the most effective means to reduce swelling. After 24 hours, there is very little benefit to applying an ice pack. An ice pack should be applied using a towel or other covering so that it does not come into contact with the skin. A rotation of 15 minutes on the face and 15 minutes off over a 1 to 2 hour period is recommended.
What NOT To Do After A Tooth Extraction
1. No Smoking
If you are a smoker, avoid smoking for at least 48 hours after the extraction. Smoking can increase the risk of infection and also prevent a clot forming increasing the risk of dry socket developing between 3 and 4 days after the extraction.
2. No Solids
It is best to avoid eating solid food after the extraction. The numbness from the extraction can result in unknowingly chewing your cheeks and tongue. Soft and liquid foods like soup, mashed potatoes or veg, yoghurt and smoothies are ideal. When sensation has fully returned, you can start eating solids again.
3. Take Medication As Prescribed
You need to take your medication as prescribed by your dentist. You will more than likely receive an antibiotic to prevent infection and this should be taken regularly until the entire course has been completed. Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medication will also be prescribed to make you more comfortable and reduce the pain and swelling. If the pain is not reduced by the medication and persists after two days, contact your dentist.
4. No Aspirin
Aspirin thins the blood and prevents clots from forming. It is therefore best to avoid taking any aspirin after an extraction to promote healing. Ibuprofen is far more effective at relieving pain and swelling than aspirin and will not affect clotting or bleeding. Always consult your dentist or a doctor before taking medication that has not been prescribed.
5. Don’t Suck
Avoid any sucking action including smoking, drinking liquids through a straw, lollipops or ice cream and hard vegetables after an extraction. The sucking action can dislodge the clot. Also avoid hot beverages, sodas and spicy foods. Soft and liquid foods are recommended.
6. Don’t Poke
The new gap in your mouth is going to feel strange for a few days tempting you to touch and poke at it with your tongue, finger or a toothpick. Try to avoid doing this as it can dislodge the blood clot, increase bleeding and delay healing. It can also result in the development of dry socket.