Tooth extraction: Best aftercare tips to heal fast

Tooth extraction helps to maintain oral health, but it can cause discomfort for a while. That's why tooth extraction aftercare is essential.
A woman pointing at her teeth after a tooth extraction
Tooth extraction aftercare is important. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 6 Apr 2024, 12:00 pm IST
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We are repeatedly told to brush our teeth twice a day, use a mouthwash or rinse with salt water to maintain oral health. But when we don’t focus on oral care, especially after eating sweets, our teeth may take a hit. We may experience tooth decay, which may lead to tooth removal. Whether it is tooth decay or an infection, tooth extraction can be done due to several reasons. Just because the problematic tooth has been removed, don’t think you can take things lightly. Tooth extraction aftercare should not be ignored.

What is tooth extraction?

Tooth extraction is the surgical procedure of removing a tooth from its socket in the jawbone. This procedure is usually performed when a tooth is extensively damaged and cannot be restored, leading to pain or infection, says dental surgeon Dr Sacheev Nanda. Caries, which is also known as tooth decay or dental cavities, is one of the most common indications for tooth extraction, according to a 2022 study published in the International Dental Journal.

Tooth extraction is also performed due to the following reasons:

  • If a tooth is fractured or damaged due to an injury and cannot be repaired, extraction may be required.
  • Advanced periodontal disease or gum disease weakens the tooth’s supporting structures, sometimes necessitating tooth extraction.
  • Tooth extraction is part of orthodontic treatment to create space for teeth to align correctly.
  • Wisdom teeth may cause pain or infection if impacted or unable to fully emerge, often requiring extraction.
  • Preparation for dentures.

Tooth extraction aims to alleviate pain, prevent infection, and maintain oral health.

A woman getting tooth extracted
Tooth decay may be the reason behind tooth extraction. Image courtesy: Freepik

How long does it take to recover from tooth extraction?

The recovery time after a tooth extraction varies depending on several factors such as the complexity of the extraction, overall health, and adherence to post-operative care instructions. Generally, it takes about one to two weeks to fully recover from a tooth extraction, says the expert.

Why is tooth extraction aftercare important?

Aftercare following a tooth extraction is crucial for several reasons –

  • Proper aftercare helps reduce the risk of infection at the extraction site, which can lead to complications and delay healing.
  • Following recommended aftercare instructions helps in the formation of a blood clot at the extraction site, essential for proper healing.
  • Good aftercare practices help alleviate pain and swelling associated with the extraction.
  • By following aftercare instructions, you can minimise trauma to the surrounding tissues and promote faster recovery.
  • Adhering to aftercare guidelines lowers the risk of complications such as dry socket, which occurs when the blood clot dislodges prematurely, exposing the underlying bone and nerves.

What is the best aftercare for a tooth extraction?

During the initial 24 hours after the procedure, bleeding, swelling, and discomfort around the extraction site are common. Follow these do’s and dont’s after tooth extraction!

1. Manage bleeding

Apply light pressure on a gauze pad over the extraction area to control bleeding. Replace the pad as necessary and avoid vigorous rinsing or spitting, which may dislodge blood clots and prolong bleeding.

2. Address pain

Use prescribed or over-the-counter pain relievers as instructed by your dentist to alleviate discomfort. Putting ice packs on the outer face near the extraction site can also help in reducing pain.

3. Reduce swelling

Apply ice packs to the impacted region during the initial 24 hours post-extraction to reduce swelling apart from pain. Following this period, switch to warm compresses to encourage blood circulation and ease discomfort, says the expert.

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A woman brushing her teeth after tooth extraction
Oral hygiene should not be ignored after tooth extraction. Image courtesy: Freepik

4. Maintain oral cleanliness

Continue brushing your teeth gently, but steer clear of the extraction area for the first few days. Rinse your mouth with warm saline solution multiple times every day for cleanliness and to decrease infection risks.

5. Modify dietary choices

Opt for soft foods and liquids immediately following the tooth extraction. You can eat mashed potatoes or yogurt for the first few days after extraction to avoid irritating the extraction site. Refrain from consuming hot, spicy, acidic, or crunchy items that might irritate the extraction site or dislodge blood clots.

6. Limit physical exertion

Steer clear of intense physical activities, heavy lifting, and exercise for at least a day post-extraction. This will help to prevent excessive bleeding and support healing.

7. Prioritise rest

Relax and ensure ample rest during the initial recovery phase. Avoid bending over or lying flat, as this could elevate blood flow to the head and prolong bleeding, says the expert.

8. Stay hydrated

Consume plenty of fluids, but avoid using straws as the sucking motion may dislodge blood clots and come in the way of healing. Stick to lukewarm or cold beverages and stay away from hot drinks.

9. Attend scheduled check-ups

Arrange and attend follow-up appointments with your dentist as advised. These visits will enable your dentist to monitor your progress, remove any stitches or sutures, and address any emerging issues or complications.

By following these tooth extraction aftercare tips, you can promote a smooth and speedy recovery.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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