Teeth removal, or dental extraction, is needed when teeth can no longer be restored. The common causes for extraction are cavities, gum infections, pericoronitis, or partially erupted teeth. Teeth removal is usually an outpatient procedure — but can be associated with complications. So if you are considering having a tooth pulled, you should know what to do after the procedure. Read on to learn how to reduce the risk of complications.
When you remove a tooth, you must follow specific aftercare instructions.
Failure to comply with your dentist's advice after the procedure increases the risk of developing postoperative complications.
The first 2–3 days after a teeth removal is crucial. A blood clot forms at the site during this period — it needs to be maintained for proper recovery.
Adequate rest, medications, avoiding smoking and drinking, and a soft diet are among the factors that can help you heal better.
No one enjoys having a tooth pulled, but often, tooth extraction is necessary for various reasons. However, proper postprocedural mouth care will prevent problems and infections. Your dentist should provide you with detailed instructions on how to care for your mouth after tooth extraction.
What are the common after-tooth-removal complications?
Every surgical procedure comes with risks. In teeth extraction, risks can vary depending on the type and number of teeth being pulled, the patient's health status, the surgical technique used, and the procedure's complexity. Here are some possible complications you can face after having a tooth removed.
- Bleeding from the socket. One of the common causes of excess bleeding 24–48 hours post-surgery is loss of blood clots at the surgical site. Some blood can ooze from the area after surgery, but prolonged bleeding periods need attention.
- Pain and swelling. You might experience pain and swelling on the side of teeth removal. In addition, trauma or lacerations during surgery or a long surgical time can trigger inflammation.
- Inability to open mouth. Keeping your mouth open throughout the procedure can tire out your jaw muscles. Sometimes, nerve or ligament damage can also cause restricted mouth opening (trismus).
- Dry socket. A dry socket is a painful condition evident by the third day following extraction. When a blood clot fails to form or gets dislodged from where the tooth was pulled, the bone and nerves are exposed, causing pain. It's common with wisdom teeth and impacted molar teeth.
- Delay in healing. Every patient is unique, therefore the healing time may differ, even if you follow the dentist's advice thoroughly.
Recommendations after teeth extraction
The first 24 to 72 hours following an extraction are vital. After that, a dentist will recommend specific alcohol increases the risk of bleeding postoperative advice to minimize the chances of developing a complication.
Just after surgery:
- Apply wet gauze to the site. After a tooth is pulled out, you will be asked to bite on a damp gauze swab (put over the extraction socket) to stop the bleeding. The pack applies constant pressure at the site and is kept in the mouth for approximately 1 hour — to ensure a blood clot forms — and bleeding stops.
- Be patient till the anesthesia wears off. Teeth are usually removed under local anesthesia. The effect of the anesthesia can stay on for 1 to 2 hours after the tooth is removed. Your lips, palate, and tongue can feel heavy and numb. Take care not to bite on your tongue or lips.
Within 24 hours after surgery:
- Eat a soft diet. You can eat soft foods and liquids — one hour after the surgery. Continue a soft diet for 24 hours following the tooth removal. Dentists also advise limiting chewing with the affected side of the mouth.
- Take rest. It's good if you can rest following a tooth removal — especially if it involves impacted wisdom or molar teeth removal. A dentist can ask you to avoid heavy exercises within a day of surgery.
- Take medicines as prescribed. Medications, including antibiotics and painkillers, are commonly given after a tooth is removed.
- Do not spit, suck, or swish. Actions like forceful spitting, sucking on a straw, or swishing water in the mouth can trigger the loss of the clot from the socket site. Once the clot is lost, complications, including continuous bleeding, dry socket, pain, and infection, can take over.
- Apply a cold compress. Cold compressions are recommended for the first 24 hours. They cause the blood vessels to constrict, which controls excess oozing of blood and fluids and helps prevent oral swelling.
- Avoid brushing or probing the socket area.
2–3 days after the surgery:
- A warm, saline gargle reduces the risk of infections at the socket site. Do this 3–4 times a day — and always after meals. Dentists recommend this only after 48 hours due to the risk of dislodging a clot.
- Be careful while brushing and flossing your teeth, and avoid the extraction site. The extraction region can be cleaned with a saline rinse or salt water.
- If you have stitches at the extraction site, you must visit the dentist seven days after the surgery. The dentist will cut the stitches, inspect for any signs of complications, and schedule a follow-up if needed.
If you have undergone an extraction, strictly stick to your dentist's advice. It will help you to avoid complications and heal better.
If you know what to do, avoiding complications after tooth removal is easy. While some pain and oozing can occur after an extraction, it is best to consult your dentist if you experience increased bleeding and pain—days after pulling out a tooth.
Can I smoke and drink after tooth removal?
A dentist will advise you against habits, including smoking and drinking, postoperatively. By-products of tobacco can delay healing. Even the heat and suction associated with vaping products can impair surgical site healing. It is best to abstain from smoking for 3-4 weeks after you get your teeth removed. Research shows that alcohol increases the risk of bleeding. Dentists usually recommend keeping away from drinking post-surgery.
How long is tooth extraction recovery?
Different extraction sockets heal at different speeds. For example, the incisor sockets can heal faster, while the molars and wisdom (from a surgical removal) can take much longer. Usually, the gums close upon the hole in 14 days. However, a socket can take four weeks to several months to heal completely. The healing speed can also differ if you have health conditions like diabetes.
How should I sleep after tooth extraction?
Elevate your head when you sleep. This helps to control swelling and maintain the clot formed. As the head remains elevated, more fluids and exudates are drained away from the socket — reducing inflammation. Try to use more pillows to elevate the head, and try not to sleep on the side where the teeth were extracted.
- International Journal of Dentistry. Prevalence of Postoperative Infection after Tooth Extraction: A Retrospective Study.
- NHS. Your guide to having teeth removed.
- JMIR Perioper Med. Innovative App (ExoDont) and Other Conventional Methods to Improve Patient Compliance After Minor Oral Surgical Procedures: Pilot, Nonrandomized, and Prospective Comparative Study.
- Fortune Journal of Health Sciences. A General Overview of Post Extraction Complications-Prevention, Management and Importance of Post Extraction Advices.