Woman with a tooth extraction.

We get it; tooth extraction is not on your list of fun ways to spend your day. But sometimes, it is the best treatment option for your dental health.

You should be happy to know that tooth extraction is a common procedure, and with the right aftercare, you’ll be more likely to have a fast, easy recovery and be back to your normal self in no time.

What is a Tooth Extraction, Exactly?

A tooth extraction is commonly referred to as “getting a tooth pulled.” It is a dental procedure during which your dentist removes your tooth from its socket in the jawbone. You may need a tooth extraction due to severe decay, gum disease, trauma, or wisdom teeth that are causing pain or crowding.

For the majority of cases, local anesthesia will be used to help you feel little to no pain during the process. That means the area will be thoroughly numbed, and that numbing sensation will keep pain at bay for a while post-procedure.

It’s important to note that after your tooth is removed, a space will be left in your gums. This space will form a clot to help with healing. Taking care of the empty socket while it heals is a primary concern after tooth extraction in order to avoid complications such as a “dry-socket.”

Post-Extraction Care

While a tooth extraction is considered a routine procedure, you should take your recovery seriously. Post-extraction complications can occur, and you want to do all you can to minimize the chance of that occurring and help yourself to heal as soon as possible.

Follow Your Dentist’s Instructions

One of the most important steps in healing from any medical procedure, including dental work, is listening to your provider’s care instructions. We will provide you with specific instructions, including how to care for the extraction site, what to eat, what to avoid eating and drinking, and when to schedule a follow-up appointment. Always feel free to contact our office if you have questions about aftercare.

Keep Gauze in Place

After the extraction, we may place a piece of gauze over the extraction site. Keep this gauze in place for the recommended duration, typically 30-45 minutes. This helps control bleeding and promotes the formation of a blood clot, which is one of the first steps in healing.

Take Medications as Prescribed

We may recommend pain relievers or, in some cases, prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. You should take these medications exactly as directed. Some pain medications can impact healing. Ask which over-the-counter pain options are the best choice. If you are given antibiotics, you should always take them for the full amount of time prescribed, even if you’re feeling better.

Avoid Strenuous Activities

In the days following your tooth extraction, it is a good idea to avoid strenuous activities that could increase blood pressure in the treatment area. This includes heavy lifting, vigorous exercise, and bending over. Relaxing during the initial recovery period will help minimize the risk of complications.

Careful Oral Hygiene

You should avoid brushing the extraction site right away (check your aftercare instructions!), but you should also make a point to continue to maintain good oral hygiene throughout your recovery. Gently brush your unaffected teeth and tongue, being cautious not to disturb the clot over the extraction site.

Modify Your Diet

Eating soft, easy-to-chew foods is another must-do during the initial days after extraction. Avoid hot, spicy, tough, hard, or crunchy foods. Instead, go for items like apple sauce, yogurt, soup, mashed potatoes, eggs, and smoothies. As you heal, gradually reintroduce solid foods into your diet.

Stay Hydrated (But No Straws!)

It is well-settled that hydration helps the healing process. Make sure to drink a sufficient amount of water, but avoid using straws. The suction created can dislodge the blood clot and lead to complications.

Say No to Smoking, Vaping, and Alcohol

These behaviors can slow down the healing process and increase the risk of complications. It’s best to abstain from smoking, vaping, and alcohol during your recovery period to promote optimal healing. Also, the suction involved in smoking and vaping can cause a dry socket, similar to the use of a straw.

Watch for Warning Signs

Keep an eye out for any signs of complications such as excessive bleeding, severe pain, swelling that worsens after a few days, or signs of infection (fever, pus, discharge, foul taste). If you experience any of these symptoms, contact us immediately.

Be Patient

Finally, remember that everyone’s healing process is different. Some people recover quickly, while others may take a bit longer. Be patient with yourself and trust that your body is working to heal the extraction site.

Ask for Help

If you have concerns or questions during your recovery, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office. We want you to heal as safely and quickly as possible!