Best Home Care Tips After a Tooth Extraction
While extractions have a bad rap, this may be one of the only times in your life when you’re “prescribed” ice cream—enjoy! That’s just one of our extraction aftercare tips regarding your diet. Keep reading to learn our other extraction aftercare recommendations so you can rest easy, knowing your extraction site is healing the way it should.
How Should I Care for Myself at Home After a Tooth Extraction?
After an extraction, it’s important for a blood clot to form to stop the bleeding and begin the healing process. We ask that patients bite on gauze until the bleeding stops, but not to keep the same piece of gauze in for more than 20-30 minutes. To ensure the formation of a blood clot and prevent pain, there are a few different things we recommend after an extraction:
- Stick to soft foods for a few days.
- Avoid spicy, acidic, and crunchy foods. Also, avoid alcohol for 3 days.
- Don’t smoke or use straws for at least 24 hours.
- Continue brushing and flossing but avoid the extraction site.
After the first day, rinse gently with warm salt water.
- Don’t rinse or spit forcefully for 24 hours.
- Take antibiotic medication as prescribed and talk to your dentist about pain management medications.
- Avoid strenuous activities – take it easy the day following surgery. No heavy lifting (over 30 pounds) for several days.
What Else Should I Know About My Diet After an Extraction?
To help your mouth heal, you’re going to want to stick to soft foods—like ice cream! But that’s hardly the only food you’ll be able to eat. Other good foods to put on the menu include:
- Cool soups
Spicy, acidic, and crunchy foods can aggravate the extraction site, so these are no-no’s until about a week after your extraction.
How Can I Control Pain and Bleeding After an Extraction?
If the extraction site is bleeding, we recommend placing gauze over the area and applying pressure by biting down—but don’t chew. Make sure that the gauze is large enough, so that pressure is actually applied when you bite down.
Do this for 20-30 minutes, and the bleeding should stop. If it persists, repeat the process. Although it may take a few cycles of this to stop the bleeding entirely, the bleeding should slow down during this period. It is common to have some minor oozing overnight, so we recommend placing a towel over your pillow to prevent any staining.
If you’re experiencing pain or swelling, we recommend that time-honored trick of placing a bag of frozen peas (or a simple bag of ice) against your face for 10 minutes or so. The swelling typically starts to fade after 48 hours.
Use pain medication only as directed. If it doesn’t seem to be working, don’t hesitate to contact us. If antibiotics are prescribed, be sure to take them for the indicated length of time – even if all signs of possible infection are gone.
Another method for preventing infection that we recommend is gently rinsing your mouth with a mixture of salt (½ – 1 tsp.) and warm water (8 oz.) three times a day and after meals, starting the day after your extraction. It is also important to resume your normal dental routine after 24 hours (brushing and flossing every day) to speed up the healing process.
What Do I Need to Know About Smoking and Using a Straw After an Extraction?
Smoking and straw usage are activities which create suction, and suction can interfere with blood clot formation. If the blood clot fails to form correctly or is dislodged, the nerves and bones beneath remain exposed, leading to pain and discomfort. This is what is referred to as dry socket.
To avoid this scenario, you shouldn’t smoke or use a straw for at least 24 hours after an extraction and waiting 72 hours is even better. Or even better, use this event and an opportunity to quit smoking altogether!
What Symptoms Should I Be Concerned About After an Extraction?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should call our office so we can examine the extraction site:
- Uncontrolled or heavy bleeding
- Swelling that gets worse
- Trouble swallowing
Fortunately, these occur very rarely. If you do experience any of these symptoms or pain call us right away. Though we hope to see you under happier circumstances for your next dental visit—like your regular checkup!
Speaking of checkups, if you’re due for one, you can schedule your visit online or call our office at 614.328.9489 to request an appointment.
We are located at 6304 Scioto Darby Road in Hilliard and offer evening office hours for your convenience.