A dentist will try to save a tooth as much as possible, however, at times it’s not possible and the best course of action is a tooth extraction e.g. wisdom tooth removal. When a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms at the extraction site as the first step in a natural healing process. However, it is necessary to be super vigilant in the first 24 hours post-extraction to ensure that the blood clot does not become dislodged. It is very important that you follow the instructions given to you by your dentist to ensure you do not suffer with complications or infection from a tooth extraction.
Here are some of our top tips to help you post tooth extraction:
- Pain Relief: You should take over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen a short time after the extraction in the dosage and timing recommended by your dentist. This will help to minimise discomfort as the anesthetic starts to wear off.
- Eating: Avoid consuming any foods that may be quite sharp and would require a lot of crunching/chewing for the first 24 hours, this prevents any injury to the extraction site. A soft diet is advised initially after having a tooth extracted. It may be necessary to eat on the opposite side to your extraction site for the first 24 hours to alleviate any damage to the formed blood clot.
- Drinking: Try to avoid hot or very cold drinks and alcohol for the first 24 hours so as not to disturb the blood clot formed at the extraction site.
- Exercise: Avoid doing any strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours after the extraction to avoid bleeding resulting from a sudden rise in blood pressure.
- Oral Care: It is essential that for the first 24 hours there is no harsh swishing from mouthwashes or rinsing as this could dislodge the blood clot which gets more organised and structured with each passing hour. Therefore, after 24 hours have elapsed it would be beneficial to make up a mouthwash with a half teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. This is a biological fluid which promotes healing and can be used three to four times daily. It is important to resume your oral hygiene routine and clean your teeth as you normally would i.e. brushing and flossing, but just be careful around the extraction site.
- Smoking: Smoking of any nicotine or tobacco products should be stopped for at least 24 hours after an extraction. Smokers tend to have longer healing times than non-smokers and are at a greater risk of suffering from a painful complication of a tooth extraction called dry socket.
- Bleeding and Swelling: It is normal to have some degree of swelling post-extraction, this can take a few days to resolve, especially more complex extractions with oral surgery which may take up to a week in some cases. If there is any bleeding post-extraction, this can be normal if it is only a small amount. It would be advisable to roll a piece of gauze or clean tissue into the size of your finger, place it under the extraction site and bite down on this for about 20 to 30 minutes to help stop the bleeding. If bleeding continues after this, please contact your dentist.
- Retainers/ Mouthguards: Double check with your dentist about wearing your retainers/ mouthguards that they are ok to use. If for example, it is a wisdom tooth extraction, normally mouthguards or retainers do not include the wisdom teeth, therefore, they are ok to use. Be extra careful with oral hygiene, keeping the mouthguard/retainer clean and continuing with regular salt mouthwashes until you can feel the extraction site healing well.
- Besides swelling and pain, Dry Socket is the most common type of complication that can arise from a tooth-extraction, especially of wisdom teeth. It is a painful condition that occurs when the blood clot fails to form or dislodges after
- removal. It normally includes a painful, throbbing jaw pain and foul taste from the extraction site. It usually starts 3 to 5 days post extraction. You need to call your dentist to get this treated immediately a series of palliative dressings may be needed to relieve the pain.
- Infection: This often includes high temperature, pain ,swelling, bleeding or a yellow/ white discharge from the extraction site. Call your dentist immediately for instructions if this occurs.
- Spasm of jaw muscles is another common complication following extraction, especially involving removal of wisdom teeth. This is treated by your dentist or doctor with a muscle relaxant.
Complications occur in about 5% of routine extractions and slightly higher for wisdom tooth extractions. When they do occur they can usually be sorted quickly by your dentist so make sure you contact your dentist if any unusual symptoms arise. Extractions are a common procedure and normally resolve completely within 2 weeks.