There are more than seven billion people in the world, and every one of them has a set of teeth—32 of them, in fact. Unfortunately, from time to time, some of them have to go. It’s not something anyone’s looking forward to. After all, your teeth have all been with you for years, reliably chewing anything you asked them to. Most of us are pretty attached to them!
Many patients dread the recovery period after an extraction, but as long as you know how to take care of yourself, an extraction can be one of the least troublesome medical events of your life. Today, we’ll tell you what you can expect, and what you can do to make your recovery as comfortable as possible.
The main concern in the period after a tooth extraction is the possibility of a dry socket. This is when a blood clot fails to form over the extraction site, or when the clot comes loose and exposes the wound, possibly even leaving the bone underneath exposed. Fortunately, it’s not incredibly common (it occurs in less than 5% of routine dental extractions).
The pain of a tooth extraction can be avoided by following these steps.
Step 1: Clear your schedule
The most important thing you can do to prepare for this procedure or any other is to make sure you’re ready for the recovery period. If you were thinking about going on a ten-mile bike tour or pushing a new one-rep-max at the gym, you’ll have to postpone it. Clear your schedule of strenuous physical activity for a few days after the extraction, so you don’t risk loosening the clot before it has a chance to heal.
Step 2: Stock up on soft foods
Avoid eating anything you’ll have to chew or suck. Stock up on soft foods like yogurt and applesauce. Or you could make a smoothie—but be careful not to use a straw. Sucking up any liquid may dislodge the clot and leave the wound exposed. Eggs can work too, if you’re craving something a little more substantial.
Step 3: Manage your pain
After the procedure, your poor gums are going to need a bit of babying. You’ll probably want a painkiller of some kind. The extraction site might not hurt badly right away, but you can manage the pain best by taking a Tylenol or similar drug early. The pain likely will increase for the first three days or so, but don’t worry, that’s normal. If pain continues to increase after the third day or doesn’t decrease, it’s possible you have a dry socket. Contact your dentist, and they’ll decide how to handle things from there.
Step 4: Be gentle with your teeth
Your nighttime routine will have to change, too. For the first two days, avoid rinsing out the extraction site so the wound can heal. After that, you should rinse gently with warm salt water to encourage healing. Brush your teeth gently but avoid teeth right next to the extraction site for the first couple of days. Even after the first couple days, be very careful not to brush the site itself. When it’s time to go to bed, it’s best to prop your head up with an extra pillow or two.
Tooth extraction is a little uncomfortable for the first few days. But with just a little care, you can minimize the pain, and your teeth will be chewing reliably for you once again in no time. The key is to be patient with the healing process and gentle with your mouth for a few days. Putting up with the pain and inconvenience of an extraction is much better than living with the pain and infection risk of a cracked or impacted tooth!
Mirror Lake Dentistry is here to support you through extractions and all your dental needs. If you’re having tooth pain, or if you have questions about tooth extraction or any other procedure, give us a call at 972-512-9881, and we’ll do everything we can to help.
Mirror Lake Dentistry
Dr. Eric Francom