Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. If a tooth has been broken or damaged by decay, your dentist will try to fix it with a filling, crown or other treatment. Sometimes, though, there’s too much damage for the tooth to be repaired. In this case, the tooth needs to be extracted. A very loose tooth also will require extraction if it can’t be saved, even with bone replacement surgery (bone graft).It normally takes a few days to recover after a tooth extraction.
The following steps help ensure that your recovery goes smoothly.
- Apply an ice pack to your cheek directly after the procedure to reduce swelling. Use the ice pack for 10 minutes each time.
- After the dentist places the gauze pad over the affected area, bite down to reduce bleeding and to aid in clot formation. Leave the gauze on for three to four hours, or until the pad is soaked with blood.
- Take any medications as prescribed, including over-the-counter painkillers.
- Rest and relax for the first 24 hours. Do not jump immediately into your regular routine the following day.
- Don’t use a straw for the first 24 hours.
- Stop smoking.
- Don’t rinse for 24 hours after the tooth extraction, and spit only gently.
- Use pillows to prop your head up when you lie down.
- Brush and floss your teeth like normal, but avoid the extraction site.
- The day after the procedure, eat soft foods, such as yogurt, pudding, and applesauce.
- After 24 hours, add a half-teaspoon of salt to eight ounces of warm water to rinse out your mouth.
- As you heal over the next few days, you can slowly reintroduce other foods into your diet.
If you are experiencing pain that isn’t going away after several days or signs of an infection —including fever, pain, and pus or drainage from the incision — make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.