Tooth extraction aftercare is a set of instructions given after tooth extraction to facilitate quick and proper healing and also quick recovery.
Following these instructions after the procedure reduces the chances of infection, delayed healing and also complications such as a dry socket.
These instructions are divided into two.
- The first set of instructions addresses things to do, and not to do, during the first 24 hours after having your tooth extracted.
- The second set of instructions will outline recovery instructions for the days following (the days after the first 24 hours after extraction)
First 24 Hours
- Before being discharged from the clinic, your dentist should have placed a folded piece of gauze over the extraction area at the end of your procedure. You should continue to apply firm pressure to that gauze for the next 30 minutes. Doing so should stop the bleeding from your extraction site. If you get home and at some point, bleeding restarts, place a fresh piece of moistened gauze over your extraction site and apply firm, constant pressure on it for 30 to 60 minutes. You may need to repeat this process a few times. If bleeding still continues, contact your dentist.
- After a tooth extraction procedure, try as much as possible to get some rest. You may feel great but this is not the best time to hit the gym or carry out any strenuous activity. It’s best to stay home and rest because any form of stress could cause bleeding or pain at the extraction site.
- Make sure you drink plenty of fluids so you are properly hydrated. Choose soft or liquid foods with cool temperatures, not hot or cold or spicy.
- After about an hour post-extraction, the effect of the local anesthesia given begins to wear off and you might start to feel some discomfort. Taking pain medication promptly after your procedure and before your numbness has worn off can help to limit the amount of pain you experience. If your dentist feels that the use of an antibiotic is indicated so as to prevent or treat an infection, they will give you a prescription for one.
- Apply an ice pack on the side of your face where the surgery was performed. This is done to reduce swelling and is most effective on the day of the extraction.
- You may brush your teeth on the day of your extraction but be careful to avoid the extraction area.
- Do not rinse your mouth or spit out during the first 24 hours following the extraction. These activities may activate bleeding.
- Avoid using a straw, blowing a musical instrument or activities like blowing up a balloon as these activities create a pressure change. This can lead to dislodging or disruption of the blood clot.
- The local anesthetic administered during your procedure will slowly wear off during the next 2 to 4 hours. While numb, be careful not to bite your lips or tongue. Also, be careful not to expose your face or lips to extreme temperatures.
- Avoid smoking for at least 48 hours after tooth extraction as it increases the risk of dry socket formation and other post-operative complications.
- Do not consume alcoholic beverages following your surgery. Consumption of alcohol also interferes with the healing process.
- Avoid eating or drinking for the first hour after your surgery (with the exception of taking medication).
- Avoid taking aspirin because it is a blood thinner that will delay the process of clot formation causing excessive bleeding.
- Avoid hot drinks, spicy foods, and sodas
- Don’t poke into the gap created: Though for the first few days, it will feel a bit awkward to have a gap but don’t poke that area with any toothpick or even your tongue as it may delay healing or provoke bleeding.
After 24 Hours
After the first 24 hours following tooth extraction, the following set of instructions need to be carried out.
- Warm saline rinse: The main aim of this is to clean the area of extraction as it may not be possible to clean it with a toothbrush. The solution is made up of warm water and a teaspoon of salt. Ensure that the water is not too hot so it doesn’t burn your mouth. A teaspoon of salt is put into a cup of warm water and stirred, then it is used as a mouth bath. Do not gargle. It can be done for a minimum of eight times a day for seven days after the extraction.
- Take all medications as prescribed by your dentist and ensure you complete it.
- Avoid chewing on the side of the extraction until after 5 to 7 days post-extraction.
- A follow-up appointment may be needed after a week so as to monitor the healing process, and if there is a need to remove stitches, you will be told.
Tooth Extraction Complications
After the extraction, there may be slight pain and discomfort which will resolve in a few days. In some cases, the extraction may be difficult and this may affect the recovery period and healing process.
One of the causes of a difficult extraction is very strong supporting structures. For example, a massively built individual may have a bone structure that is denser and may cause difficulty in extracting the tooth. Other causes of a difficult extraction include poor mouth opening, inadequate access, buried or impacted teeth, and misshaped roots.
Due to any of the reasons stated above, the recovery phase may not be smooth. Here are some of the things that could go wrong after an extraction.
- Excessive bleeding after extraction
- Jaw fracture as a result of excessive use of force. This usually happens with the lower jaw.
- Damage to soft tissue like the lips, cheeks, gums.
- Fractured tooth. This usually occurs when the extraction is difficult.
- Dry socket: This is a painful complication of extraction which usually occurs about 3 days after the extraction. It is as a result of the blood clot being dislodged from the tooth socket.
When To Contact Your Dentist
Contact your dentist if you notice any of the following:
• Swelling that increases in size after 48 to 72 hours post-extraction.
• Pain that continually increases 2 to 3 days after the extraction.
• A foul mouth taste or odor.
• Your temperature rises above 38°C (100.4F)
• Excessive bleeding that lasts longer than 1 hour after the procedure.
Tooth extraction aftercare is very important, especially in the first 24 hours following the procedure. This is to ensure a smooth and quick healing process. It is very important to know what to do and to adhere to the aftercare instructions so as to prevent pain, infection, and other complications.
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