Although your teeth are meant to last your lifetime, decay, infection, and trauma can result in a tooth extraction to protect your remaining teeth and oral health.
Following all post-procedural instructions provided by your dentist after a tooth extraction eliminates the likelihood of infection and lessens the chances of suffering from dry socket.
Ignoring aftercare instructions may delay healing and increase the risk of complications.
Tooth Extraction Procedure
A tooth extraction is a simple procedure. A local anaesthetic is administered to the site to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure. Once the area is numb, your dentist loosens the tooth with a tool called an elevator, then uses forceps to gently remove the tooth from its socket.
For impacted teeth, such as wisdom teeth removal, the dentist makes a small incision in the gum and removes gum and bone tissue around the tooth, then rocks the tooth back and forth to loosen it from the ligaments before extracting it. If the tooth is difficult to extract, it may need to be sectioned and removed in pieces. The gum is stitched closed following extraction.
While a tooth extraction procedure is relatively painless, for anxious patients, we offer Sleep Dentistry, which uses a combination of sedatives and pain relievers to induce a sleep-like state where you are unaware of your surroundings and completely relaxed.
After the tooth has been extracted, your dentist will ask you to bite down on gauze to help stem the bleeding and encourage a blood clot to form. It is important to keep the gauze in your mouth for about an hour after the procedure.
Then, you can gently remove it, evaluate the site, and place a clean gauze in its place if needed.
What to do After Tooth Extraction
Following a tooth extraction, your dentist provides aftercare instructions to prevent infection and facilitate healing. Here are some things you need to do after a tooth extraction.
- Use an Ice Pack
Immediately after the procedure, apply an ice pack to the side of your face that the surgery was performed to help reduce swelling. Keep the cold pack pressed firmly to the side of your face for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off for 1-2 hour time periods for the first 24 hours following the extraction.
- Eat a Modified Diet
You may experience some discomfort after your procedure that may make it difficult to chew hard foods. For a few days after your tooth extraction, modify your diet to include soft foods like yoghurt, porridge, fruit and vegetable purees, and soups. Smoothies can be a great way to ensure you are getting enough nutrients while you recover without irritating the wound site.
- Rinse with Salt Water Solution
Avoid rinsing your mouth for 24 hours after the tooth extraction procedure, but once a clot has formed, gently rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution made using ½ teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water. Use the saltwater solution every 2-3 hours to encourage the wound to heal.
- Use Pain Relief
Your mouth will feel tender and swollen in the days following your tooth extraction. This discomfort is temporary, but if you are experiencing discomfort take over-the-counter pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to alleviate the pain. Do not take Aspirin because it is a blood thinner and can delay healing. Take medications prescribed by your dentist.
- Avoid Drinking with a Straw
Activities like drinking through a straw or smoking create negative pressure in your mouth, which can dislodge the blood clot that has formed. If this clot becomes dislodged, it can cause bleeding, or a condition called dry socket, putting you at risk of infection. If this occurs, your dentist will redress the wound to allow a new clot to form.
- Moderate Your Activity
For 2-3 days after a tooth extraction, it is essential to rest and allow your body to heal. Avoid resuming your regular routine, and lay down with your head slightly elevated to help minimize bleeding.
Symptoms of Infection
If complications arise after a tooth extraction such as dry socket or gum infection, it is important to call your dentist immediately to avoid serious health problems. Some symptoms to look out for include:
- Severe or excessive bleeding
- Severe pain
- Increased sensitivity to hot and cold
- Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Swelling or tenderness in the gums, jaws or neck
Before getting a tooth extraction, inform your dentist of any medications or illness that may compromise your immune system. While a tooth extraction procedure is simple and relatively risk-free, removing a tooth can put you at risk of infection, and you may need to be prescribed antibiotics.
To learn more about the tooth extraction procedure, call Beyond Infinity Dental on (02) 8806 3799 to talk to our experienced staff.