Congratulations on having that decayed tooth pulled out! It’s normal to experience some discomfort for several days after the procedure but it’s nothing that you can’t handle. Just follow the aftercare instructions your dentist has provided you and you’re good to go. For your convenience, we’ve listed some of these instructions below:
- Right after the extraction, you will be asked to bite firmly on some gauze for at least 30 minutes in order to put pressure on the wound and facilitate the formation of a blood clot. After 30 minutes, you may remove the gauze or replace it with a new one if the blood continues to ooze. It is also important to avoid smoking, drinking through straws and spitting. Such activities generate negative pressure which can dislodge the clot and cause bleeding. Strenuous activities must likewise be avoided as they can cause your blood pressure to rise and can lead to delayed healing.
- To relieve any pain and discomfort, you will be asked to take analgesics within two hours after the operation to minimize pain as the anesthesia starts to wear off. Commonly-prescribed pain relievers include paracetamol, ibuprofen and mefenamic acid. These drugs must be taken on a full stomach every four to six hours as needed and should relieve any pain and discomfort caused by the procedure. If they don’t work and the pain gets worse, contact your dentist. Don’t exceed the prescribed dose. While on pain medications, you must not drive or operate heavy equipment.
- Swelling will be the greatest during the first 48 hours following surgery. After 72 hours, it will start to subside. To relieve swelling, apply a cold compress intermittently for 24 hours. The cold induces blood vessel constriction which, in turn, helps alleviate swelling. Be sure to keep your head elevated for the first two nights when you go to bed.
- If the swelling is accompanied by a foul odor, an infection might have occurred. In this case, contact your dentist right away. Antibiotics will be prescribed to combat the infection. They should be taken three times a day for seven to ten days to be most effective.
- Do not brush your teeth for the first 12 hours after surgery. After this period, you may resume your normal oral hygiene practices but be sure and avoid brushing the extraction site for three days. To clean the area, gargle with alcohol-free mouthwash or warm saline solution.
- You will be advised to eat soft, cold foods immediately after you leave the dental clinic. Cold promotes vasoconstriction and helps prevent bleeding of the extraction site. For the first 24-48 hours, hard and hot foods should be avoided because they may cause bleeding. Drinking alcohol must also be avoided. After 48 hours, you may go back to your normal diet and eat anything you want as long as you don’t chew on the side where the extraction was done. Chew on the opposite site to prevent bleeding and food impaction on the site.
- Smoking can cause bleeding and delayed healing due to its nicotine content. Nicotine causes a decreased blood flow to the site of extraction. You are advised to stop smoking some weeks prior to the surgery. Smokers are also at a higher risk for dry socket which is a condition characterized by extreme pain on the site of extraction.
- A follow-up visit is necessary to remove sutures or to simply monitor healing. This visit is usually a week after the procedure, or earlier, depending on the symptoms experienced by the patient. Contact your dentist immediately if you experience extreme pain, persistent swelling, profuse bleeding, fever, allergic reaction to medications and breathing problems. To minimize your chances for these complications, always follow your post-surgery instructions thoroughly.