Whether you are undergoing a tooth extraction due to a damaged or unhealthy tooth, you are preparing for orthodontic treatment, or you have an impacted wisdom tooth, tooth extractions can be nerve-wracking.
Learning what to do after a tooth extraction will not only make you feel more prepared and at ease, but also help you heal faster.
What to Do After a Tooth Extraction: Eating and Drinking
Tooth extractions such as wisdom tooth removal can be very tiring because your body needs to use lots of energy to heal; therefore, it’s essential to keep your energy up with a healthy diet. However, there are certain foods that must be avoided.
Avoid Hot Food and Drinks
After a tooth extraction, it’s very important that a blood clot forms at the site. If the blood clot fails to develop or is disturbed, a secondary condition called dry socket can occur.
Consuming hot food and beverages can make blood clotting more difficult, so it is best to opt for lukewarm food and drinks for 72 hours after all tooth extractions. Cold food such as ice cream and yoghurt can help reduce swelling and ease discomfort. However, do not drink through a straw as this action causes a negative pressure in the mouth, disrupting the clot.
Eat Soft Food
For several days after your tooth extraction, your mouth may be tender and swollen, making it difficult to chew hard food. You should also steer clear of crumbly or crunchy foods like biscuits or nuts, as the pieces can get into the wound and cause irritation.
Soft food such as pudding, soup, and scrambled eggs are ideal after tooth extractions. It’s also a good idea to avoid spicy foods until you are completely healed, as they can also irritate the gum tissue.
Skip drinking alcohol for a few days after having a tooth extraction because it can slow healing, increasing your chances of experiencing a dry socket.
What to Do After a Tooth Extraction: Cleaning
Post tooth extraction it is more important than ever to keep your teeth and mouth clean to prevent infection. Unfortunately, this can be a bit more challenging than normal because you mustn’t dislodge the blood clot; however, thorough cleaning is possible. If you are concerned about cleaning your teeth after a tooth extraction, consult your dentist.
Don’t Directly Brush the Tooth Extraction Site
For the first three or four days after the procedure, while you should continue to brush your remaining teeth, you should not brush the site of tooth extractions directly as this can move the blood clot. Instead, gently wipe the area clean with a wet cloth or gauze pad. When you start brushing again, select a soft brush and proceed gently.
How to Rinse
Do not rinse for 24 hours after your tooth extraction. Rinsing too soon can promote bleeding and slow clotting. After this period, you should rinse several times a day very gently with a warm saltwater solution, ideally after food. This washes away food debris and keeps the extraction site clean.
It’s normal to experience some soreness after tooth extractions, and often, your dentist prescribes medication to help, though discomfort can be managed with over the counter painkillers.
You may also be prescribed a course of antibiotics, which you must complete even if you feel better. Always take medications exactly as directed by your dentist. You should contact your dentist if you get a fever or your pain or swelling worsens.
Preventing or Reducing Swelling
Many patients experience some swelling after tooth extractions, but this can be eased by applying a cold compress in 10-20-minute intervals to the outside of your face. Some patients also find that sleeping with their head propped up with an extra pillow helps minimise discomfort.
Your dentist will place a damp gauze pad on the tooth extraction site immediately after the procedure to stop any bleeding. They will ask you to bite down and put pressure on this pad. You will be asked to change it, depending on the amount you bleed. Do not rinse your mouth.
Do not change your gauze more than three or four times as this could move the blood clot. Placing a moistened tea bag on the tooth extraction site can also help as tannic acid constricts bleeding vessels. Contact your dentist if you are concerned about excessive bleeding, as this may indicate an infection.
Avoid Strenuous Activity
Limit your physical activity for the first few days after tooth extractions, particularly the first 24 hours, as it can increase bleeding. Avoid heavy lifting or bending over and do not blow up balloons, play wind instruments, or perform a similar activity until two weeks after your tooth extraction.
Do Not Smoke
Smokers should avoid smoking for several days after their tooth extraction for several reasons. First, the movement your mouth makes while smoking can easily dislodge blood clots. Second, the smoke can irritate the extraction site and third, smoking slows healing. Quitting altogether would have a positive effect on your oral health. Contact your doctor if you would like help giving up smoking.
Don’t Fear Tooth Extraction
Tooth extractions are a relatively simple dental procedure that the experienced dentists at Toothsome perform frequently and with great success. Knowing what to do after a tooth extraction and caring for yourself and the extraction site can result in faster, safer healing and a more pleasant experience.
At Toothsome, our friendly team is always happy to put your mind at ease and walk you through a procedure such as a tooth extraction. Call us today on (02) 8203 8786 to arrange an initial consultation.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.