Most people understand the basic concept that natural teeth are perfect for chewing, biting, and maintaining both mouth and jawbone structure. This is why it is imperative for a dentist to help save, restore, and repair your natural teeth. However, sometimes tooth extraction is a necessary practice.
Dr. Amy at Excellence Dental will ensure that you’re comfortable before, during, and after your extraction procedure. This will include walking you through every single step of the tooth extraction process, as well as the utilization of local anesthetics.
Are you feeling uneasy or distressed about your tooth extraction?
Make sure to talk to Dr. Amy about how you’re feeling so she can put your fears to rest. Here are some helpful tips on overcoming dental anxiety.
A Few Simple Guidelines
There are many reasons why teeth may need to be removed– including decay, disease or trauma. When a tooth is removed or “pulled” it is referred to as a tooth extraction.
When an extraction takes place, it’s both natural and common that changes will occur in your mouth afterward. Your dentist will most likely assign you instructions to follow after the extraction, and it’s imperative to speak to your dentist if you have any questions or problems whatsoever. Below are some general guidelines to help prevent complications, promote healing, and make you more comfortable overall about the process.
An anesthetic will be given prior to the procedure to reduce your discomfort. It’s normal for your mouth to remain numb for a few hours after the extraction. While your mouth is numb, you’ll want to be extremely cautious not to bite your lip, cheek, or tongue. Make sure not to eat any foods that require chewing while your mouth is numb. Typically the numbness will go away within a few hours but if it doesn’t contact your dentist.
In order to limit as much bleeding as possible, your dentist may place a gauze pack on the extraction site. This will also help to prevent a blood clot from forming, which is crucial for normal healing. This gauze pack should be left in place for about 30 to 45 minutes upon leaving the dentist’s office. Be careful not to chew on the pack. There may be some indication of slight bleeding or oozing after the pack is expunged. If that is the case, here’s what to do:
Fold a piece of clean gauze into a pad thick enough to bite on. Dampen the pad with warm, clean water and place it directly on the extraction site.
Apply pressure by closing your teeth firmly over the pad. Maintain consistent pressure for about 30 minutes. Replace the pad with a clean one if it becomes soaked with blood.
Make sure not to suck on the extraction site or disturb it with your tongue.
A slight amount of blood may leak from the extraction site until a clot forms. If heavy bleeding continues however, call your dentist. (Be mindful that a slight amount of blood mixed with saliva can actually look like a lot of bleeding.)
Do Not Disturb!
Keep in mind that the blood clot that accumulates in the tooth socket is a vital part of the normal healing process. You should avoid doing anything that might disturb or agitate the clot. Below are some ways to protect it:
Do not rinse your mouth forcefully or drink through a straw for 24 hours. These activities create suction in the mouth, which could consequently loosen the clot and delay the healing process.
Avoid all alcoholic beverages or mouthwashes containing alcohol for 24 hours.
If you are a smoker, ensure you speak with your dentist prior to the surgery on ways to quit. You should not smoke after surgery.
Avoid vigorous activity for 24 hours after the extraction has taken place. This will reduce bleeding and allow the blood clot to form organically.
In some cases the blood clot will not form in the first day or two after the extraction, or it will form but subsequently break down. The result is referred to as dry socket. This phenomenon can be very painful and should be immediately reported to your dentist. A dressing may be fixed in the socket to protect it until the socket heals and to reduce any resulting pain.
Cleaning Your Mouth
Do not clean or disinfect the teeth surrounding the healing tooth socket for the rest of the day. However, you should thoroughly brush and floss your other teeth and begin cleaning the teeth next to the healing tooth socket the following day. You can brush your tongue also. This will help to exterminate the bad breath and unpleasant taste that is typical after an extraction.
On the day following the extraction, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water (half a teaspoon salt in an 8 oz. glass of warm water) after meals to prevent food particles from layering the extraction site. Avoid rinsing your mouth vigorously as this may consequently loosen the blood clot. If you suffer from hypertension, make sure to discuss with your dentist whether or not you should rinse with salt water. Stray away from using a mouthwash during this early healing period unless of course your dentist advises you to do so.
If a dental professional has prescribed you medicine to control inflammation, pain, or to prevent infection, use only as directed. If the pain medication prescribed does not seem to be working for you, do not take more pills or ingest more often than directed. Instead, call your dentist.
Swelling and Pain
Once a tooth is extracted, you may feel some discomfort and notice some swelling. This is normal. In order to reduce pain and swelling, apply a ice bag or a cold, moist cloth to your face. Your dentist may give you detailed instructions both on how long and how often to use a cold compress.
When to Call the Dentist
If you experience any of the following issues, call your dentist immediately. If for whatever reason you cannot reach your dentist, visit a hospital emergency room.
Fever, nausea or vomiting
Ongoing or severe pain, swelling, or bleeding
Pain that gets worse with time instead of better
Eating and Drinking
After the extraction, make sure to drink lots of liquids and ingest soft, nutritious foods. Avoid both hot liquids and alcoholic beverages. Never use a straw. You can start eating solid foods the following day or as soon as you can chew comfortably. For the first few days, try to chew food on the side opposite to the extraction site. Once it feels comfortable, you can resume chewing on both sides of your mouth.
If you have any sutures that require removal, your dentist will inform you when to return to the office.
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