October 21, 2019
If you end up needing a tooth extraction to treat or avoid a severe oral health issue, you’ll need to plan ahead for the recovery period. The socket left behind after the tooth is gone needs time to heal, and in the meantime you’re likely to experience some swelling and discomfort. Here’s everything you need to know about what to expect after a tooth removal and how you can continue to protect your smile during recovery.
How Long Does Recovery Take?
Healing time is different for every patient, and the type of extraction (simple or surgical) as well as the location of the tooth needs to be taken into account as well. In general, however, you can expect recovery to last for about 7 to 10 days. You’ll have two goals during this process: keeping discomfort to a minimum and protecting the blood clot in the tooth socket. (If the clot is dislodged, it causes a painful condition called dry socket that slows down healing.)
How Can You Speed Up Recovery?
Proper aftercare is crucial if you want the necessary recovery time to be as short as possible. Here are a few tips for looking after your mouth in the days after the extraction:
- Take painkillers as prescribed and use an ice bag for 10 minutes at a time to reduce any swelling.
- Continue resting for about 24 hours after the procedure. Avoid strenuous physical activity for at least a couple of days.
- Do not rinse, spit or use a straw for at least 24 hours after the procedure; otherwise you could dislodge the blood clot.
- After the first 24 hours, you can rinse with a salt solution to reduce the risk of infection.
- Limit yourself to soft foods like yogurt, soup and applesauce. You can start eating solid foods again as the extraction site heals.
- Keep your head propped up whenever you go to bed; sleeping flat on your back can extend healing time.
- Avoid the extraction site while brushing and flossing.
How Much Pain is Normal During Recovery?
Naturally, you’ll experience some discomfort for the first few days after the extraction, but it can normally be controlled with medication. However, you should call your dentist if you’re still suffering from severe pain or bleeding four hours following the procedure. Also, an emergency appointment is necessary if you experience nausea, vomiting, redness or swelling around the extraction site, or signs of infection such as fever and chills.
If you have any doubts about recovery, make sure your dentist knows about your concerns beforehand. Remember that the discomfort after tooth removal is worth it to avoid the complications caused by a badly damaged or infected tooth; it’s a necessary step if you want to ultimately keep the rest of your smile intact!
About the Author
Dr. Steven Kendrick is a proud member of the Oklahoma Dental Association and serves as the Dental Clinic Director for the free clinic at Bryant Avenue Baptist Church. At his practice in Midwest City, he does everything he can to keep his patients comfortable throughout their treatment. To ask about tooth extraction and what can be expected after recovery, you make an appointment by visiting his website or calling (405) 732-0431.
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