After a tooth extraction, taking good care of the extraction site is important to speedy, complication-free healing and recovery. Here is what you need to know to help protect against complications, such as infection or dry socket, and minimize pain and discomfort as you recover from a tooth extraction.
After your tooth is extracted, a gauze pad will be placed over the extraction site, and you’ll be asked to bite down in it for 30 to 45 minutes. This is to aid in stopping the bleeding and helps the wound develop a blood clot. That blood clot is essential to proper healing, protecting the site as new tissue forms to close the wound. If bleeding continues after that 30 to 45 minute period, insert another moistened gauze pad and repeat the process. In some cases, this must be done several times to resolve bleeding. Keep gauze changing to a minimum. Once there is no active bleeding, (bright red blood welling up in the mouth), and all you see is a dark red clot, discontinue gauze applications as you could accidentally dislodge your clot with frequent gauze applications.
Once the site develops a blood clot, it is very important that it is not disturbed or dislodged. To avoid this, do not rinse your mouth vigorously for 72 hours after your extraction. Do not smoke or drink from a straw during this period, as the pressure created by sucking can dislodge the clot. When brushing your teeth, be very careful to avoid the extraction site, and take it easy for 24 hours after your procedure, since vigorous activity can raise your blood pressure, which can cause excessive bleeding and/or dislodge the blood clot.
You can expect to experience some pain as the local anesthesia administered during your extraction wears off, and you may have some facial swelling. Take your pain medication as directed when you begin to feel pain, and swelling can be minimized by applying an ice pack to the affected area. Swelling typically peaks 72 hours after your surgery, and pain should decrease steadily after the third day after your tooth is extracted. If pain persists or worsens, call Dr. Arroyo’s office for instructions.
If you have been prescribed antibiotics, taking them as directed is important to preventing infection, so do not skip doses or discontinue them without consulting Dr. Arroyo. Good oral hygiene is essential to avoiding infection as well, so resume brushing and flossing after 24 hours.
Drink lots of fluids and eat well after your extraction to speed healing, but stick to soft foods for the first day. Within a few days, you should be feeling better, with pain and swelling subsiding, and be ready to resume your normal activities.
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