After having a tooth extraction, you need to make sure you don’t have too much bleeding, make sure you don’t get a dry socket and avoid infection. It’s that simple – almost.
Here are some specific things to do and not to do after tooth extraction by Dr. Paige Woods here at Brighton Dental in San Diego.
Let’s start with things that are beneficial to you, including:
Get some rest. Tooth extraction is a kind of surgery after all, so give yourself some healing time. Although you’ll probably feel fine, avoid exercise or excessive activity for at least 24 hours. As you rest, keep your head slightly more upright that you might usually to prevent swelling and bleeding.
Let the clot form. A clot forms after tooth extraction that covers the socket and allows it to heal. Biting on a piece of gauze dentist helps the clot form, but there’s probably no reason to bite on gauze for more than an hour or two. Change pieces as the gauze gets soaked with blood. And remember to bite, not chew. Chewing on the gauze can cause the clot to dislodge.
Use ice packs. Putting an ice pack on the side of your face where you had the extraction can help keep swelling in check. For a simple extraction, there may be no swelling at all – or very little. If there is swelling, it may not reach its maximum until the second or third day. But after the first 24 hours, an ice pack probably won’t help much. If you experience swelling during the first 24 hours, apply an ice pack for 15 minutes on, then 15 minutes off for up to 2 hours at a time.
Remember to take any medicines we prescribe and rinse carefully with warm salt water after the first 24 hours. Rinse by rolling water in your mouth – not swishing – to preserve the blood clot.
Don’t Do This
Some things are likely to cause you problems after tooth extraction. Here are some things to avoid:
Don’t smoke. There are many reasons not to smoke after a tooth extraction for at least 48 hours. The chemicals involved in smoking can cause the clot not to form correctly. The sucking involved in smoking can dislodge the clot. And smoking shrinks blood vessels, restricting blood flow and increasing healing time. (If you can go a couple days without smoking, you might consider giving up the habit altogether.)
Don’t eat solid food right away. You shouldn’t eat much at all while still numb because you could bite your tongue or cheek and cause injuries without realizing it. In the first few days after a tooth extraction, avoid any foods that are tough, crispy or likely to get caught at the extraction site. Start with mashed potatoes, yogurt, smoothies and similar soft foods and work your way up to solid food gradually.
Don’t take aspirin. It’s best to take Tylenol because it doesn’t act as a blood thinner. Aspirin can thin your blood and cause bleeding to start again. While NSAIDs also thin the blood, we may recommend that you take them along with Tylenol if the pain level is more intense than expected. Follow our instructions about what to take and what not to take.
Avoid suction. Sucking through a straw, smoking and slurping soup can all dislodge the blood clot, and that can cause great pain from a dry socket. You should also avoid eating spicy foods, sipping hot drinks or drinking carbonated beverages, which can also cause you to dislodge the crucial blood clot.
Learn more on the After Tooth Extraction page of this website. And contact us right away at Brighton Dental right if you have any issues or concerns. We’re here to help at every step of the way.