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Caring for Your Teeth After Extractions

One of our main goals at Chester Family Dentistry is to keep your natural teeth as healthy as possible and avoid extractions. Sometimes, we can’t always save a tooth, so it becomes necessary to remove it to preserve the overall health of your other teeth. Self-care after an extraction is extremely important.

What can you expect immediately following an extraction?

Since you may be prescribed a strong anti-anxiety medicine to take before the procedure or may be placed under anesthesia, you can expect some grogginess for a few hours after the extraction. To stop the bleeding and protect the exposed socket, your dentist will pack your mouth with gauze for you to bite down on for 30-45 minutes.

You may or may not have dissolvable stitches placed in your mouth. Your dentist will write you a prescription for a proper pain medication, since you will most likely have pain for a few days. It’s important that you have a ride home from a friend or family member. Your dentist will review your self-care instructions with you before you leave the office.

What to do when you get home from the dentist’s office

Because you’ll want to rest for 24-48 hours after your procedure, make sure to clear your schedule beforehand. You may wish to prepare your resting area before you leave to have the extraction done, since you’ll want to lie down as soon as you get home. Make sure you have comfortable pillows, fluids to drink, access to ice, and something to keep you occupied if you aren’t sleeping, such as TV, magazines, or books. Use pillows to keep your head elevated, which will help control bleeding.

How to manage pain

Your doctor may prescribe you a short-term prescription for an opiate pain medication, since tooth extractions are known to cause pain and swelling. Fill the prescription on your way home, and take the prescribed amount as soon as you lie down. In many cases, over-the-counter pain relief is enough to ease any discomfort you’re having. Medicines such as naproxen and ibuprofen will usually work in this case. Don’t take aspirin or aspirin products since they can induce bleeding.

To avoid pain, keep yourself on a medication schedule. For example, if the directions say to take one pill every four hours as needed, take another pill four hours after you’ve taken the first one. It might be helpful to set an alarm on your phone for the next dose.

Leave the gauze intact, and bite down on it gently, so a blood clot will form and stop any bleeding. Make sure that you have extra gauze pads on hand, and change out the gauze before it becomes soaked with blood. Expect to leave the gauze in place for three to four hours following the extraction, or follow the instructions your dentist gave you.

Apply an ice pack to the extraction area, which will help keep swelling down. Apply ice in 10-minute increments.

Can I rinse my mouth with water?

You’ll want to avoid rinsing your mouth for 24 hours following an extraction. Rinsing can disturb the clot that has formed in the extraction site and cause a painful condition called dry socket. When you’re able to rinse your mouth, mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Don’t spit forcefully. Repeat this twice a day. It’s also important to brush your remaining teeth and tongue following an extraction to prevent infection. Avoid smoking since it can also cause a dry socket. Follow your dentist’s self-care instructions as to when it is okay to smoke.

What can I eat or drink?

Soft foods such as yogurt, applesauce, bananas, frozen sherbet, mashed potatoes, and soups are best. Though many people have heard that it’s best to drink from a straw after an extraction, this isn’t the case. Drinking from a straw can cause a dry socket to form.

Are there symptoms I should anticipate?

Although it’s completely normal to experience pain, swelling, and bleeding at the extraction site, the bleeding should naturally subside, as long as you’re following your self-care instructions. Call your dentist if your pain or bleeding are severe and last for more than four hours after the extraction or aren’t controlled with pain medication. Other symptoms that would warrant a call to your dentist would be any signs of infection, such as a fever or chills, any nausea or vomiting, excessive discharge from the extraction site, or any shortness of breath and chest pain.

Our team of dentists is always ready to help you if you think you need a tooth extracted. We try to make the process as easy as possible for you. If you are in need of dental work, please make an appointment through our online booking tool, located in our website menu, or call our office so one of our team members can assist you.

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