After Tooth Extractions

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After Tooth Extractions 

There are a number of reasons that Dr. Day might recommend a tooth extraction.  Some patients may suffer from irreparable tooth decay, others may need teeth removed that are hindering orthodontic treatment, whereas some may simply need wisdom teeth removal.  Proper care after a tooth extraction can reduce pain and the risk of infection.

Care immediately following tooth extraction:

  • Keep pressure on the gauze pad that Dr. Day placed over the surgical area by gently biting down.  Dampen the gauze pad with water if it begins to dry out.  Try to maintain constant pressure in intervals of 45-60 minutes, repeating as often as needed, or until bleeding lessens.  Replace the gauze as needed. 
  • Keep your head elevated and try to lower your activity level as much as possible.
  • 48 hours after surgery, rinse mouth with warm salt water every 1-2 hours.  Avoid using any mouthwash containing alcohol as it can irritate the extraction site.
  • Keep your mouth clean by brushing areas around the extraction site, but be sure to avoid sutures. Touching the wounded area should be avoided.
  • Use ice packs to control swelling by placing them on facial areas near the extraction site.
  • Take all medications as prescribed.  If any itching or swelling occurs, contact our office immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.
  • Try to eat softer foods, preferably high in protein.
  • Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water, but do not drink through a straw for the next 5-7 days.
  • If you are a regular tobacco user, refrain from smoking for the next 3-4 days as smoking increases your chances of getting a dry socket as well as an infection.

After your tooth has been extracted, healing will take some time.  Within 3 to 14 days, your sutures should fall out or dissolve.  For sutures that are non-resorbable, Dr. Day will schedule a follow-up appointment to remove the stitches.  The empty socket will gradually fill in with bone and will smooth over with new tissue.

Possible complications after a tooth extraction

Bleeding – Bleeding after a tooth extraction is normal.  A pinkish tinted saliva and subtle oozing is fairly common during the first 36 hours.  If bleeding becomes excessive, bite down on dampened gauze pads and keep pressure on the extraction site.  As an alternative to gauze pads, a moistened tea bag can be used, as the tannic acid helps blood vessels contract.  Apply pressure to the gauze pad or tea bag by gently biting down for 30 minutes.  Please remember that raised tempers, sitting upright, and exercise can all increase blood flow to the head, which can cause excess bleeding. Try to avoid these as much as possible. If your bleeding does not reduce after 48 hours, please call the practice.

Bone sequestra (dead tooth fragments) – Some patients have small sharp tooth fragments that could not be completely removed during the extraction procedure.  During the recovery period, these dead bone fragments slowly work themselves through the gums as a natural healing process.  This may cause some pain until the fragments are removed.  Please call our practice if you notice any sharp fragments poking through the surgery site.

Dry socket – In the days following your tooth extraction, the pain should gradually subside.  Rarely, patients report that pain increases and it feels as though it is throbbing and shooting up towards the ear.  Often this is a case of dry socket.  Dry socket occurs when the blood clot is ousted before healing is complete.  As a result, food and debris can get into the socket and cause irritation. Tobacco users and women taking oral contraceptives are at a higher risk of getting dry socket.  Dry socket is not an infection but does require a visit to our office.  If you think you may be suffering from dry socket, please contact our office immediately.

Lightheadedness - Because you may have been fasting prior to surgery, your blood sugar levels may be lower than normal. Until your body has had the chance to catch up and process some sugars, you should remember to stand up slowly when getting up from a relaxed position. For somewhat immediate relief, try eating something soft and sugary, stay in a relaxed position, and reduce the elevation of your head.

Numbness – Many patients report still feeling numb hours after their tooth extraction procedure.  An extended numbness around the mouth is normal and can last 10-12 hours after the extraction procedure.

Swelling – Swelling should almost entirely subside within 10 days after surgery.  Immediately following your tooth extraction, apply an ice pack to the facial areas near the extraction site.  Continue using the ice pack in 15 minute intervals for the first 36 hours.  After 36 hours, ice will no longer be beneficial in reducing swelling and moist heat should be used instead.  For a moist heat compress, apply a warm damp cloth to the sides of your face.

Trismus (difficulty opening and closing mouth) – If you experience a sore jaw and difficulty chewing or swallowing, do not be alarmed.  Occasionally patients’ chewing muscles and jaw joints remain sore 3-5 days after an extraction procedure.  This soreness can also make it difficult to open and close your mouth.  Soreness should eventually subside.

If you have any questions or concerns, or are experiencing complications not mentioned above, please contact our office at 517-393-8500 so that we may assess and address your concerns.

Day Family Dental

Dr. Nathan Day, DMD • Dentist • Lansing, MI


We combine experience with the latest in dental technology to deliver the best patient experience possible.