Having a tooth extraction is a normal part of life, even if it might not be the most pleasant thing to think about. Fortunately, it is not as bad as many people believe. Getting an extraction is one of the most common dental procedures, and it can have very positive benefits for your dental health. While the healing process is usually pretty straightforward, a return to the dentist is sometimes necessary. At Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA, we provide gentle tooth extraction aftercare. If you develop signs of an infection, dry socket, or shifting teeth, we can provide follow-up treatments.
What to Expect During an Extraction
For some people, the more important question is what not to expect. The answer is: you should not expect any pain during the removal process. Your dentist will use lots of local anesthetics so that you will feel nothing. Sometimes, dentists use a general anesthetic, which will put you to sleep entirely.
After your dentist has made sure that you won’t feel anything, he or she will use special surgical instruments to gently loosen the tooth from the jaw. In the case of an impacted tooth, your dentist might cut into the gum and bone to get access. After the tooth has been pulled, you will receive a gauze pad in the socket that will stop the bleeding. You will be instructed to bite down on it. Occasionally, self-dissolving stitches are made at the extraction site.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare You Can Do at Home
While it’s normal to feel some discomfort after your anesthesia wears off, this should subside significantly a few days after your extraction. You can expect a full recovery within two weeks or less. Following your dentist’s instructions and some general aftercare practices can help keep your mouth healthy as you heal.
Ask Someone to Drive You Home After the Extraction
After the anesthetic, you won’t be in a good position to drive, so make sure you arrange transportation beforehand. On the way home, keep your gauze pad in place and bite firmly so that a blood clot forms at the site of the extraction. You can remove it after 3-4 hours.
Normally, the discomfort involved in an extraction can be fully managed with over-the-counter painkillers. We can recommend the ones that are best to use at the time of your treatment. Applying an ice pack for 10 minutes at a time will also help. If you begin to feel new or intense pain, check in with the dentist again.
Take It Easy
For 24 hours after the extraction, you should plan to relax. Go easy for the next few days and limit physical activity to allow your body to recover.
Eat and Drink Carefully
For the first day of your recovery, eat soft foods like soup, applesauce, and yogurt. Avoid drinking through a straw. When you start to feel better, you can reintroduce solid foods slowly. Don’t smoke during this time as it will prologue the healing process.
Keep the Area Clean
You should floss and brush twice a day, according to your normal routine, but be careful to avoid the area that is healing. Doing so will help prevent infection. You can also rinse with salt water.
Sleep With Your Head Propped Up
Use some pillows to elevate your head at night. It will help control any bleeding.
Schedule Another Appointment With Us If:
Sometimes, extractions require follow-up care even when you do everything right. Here are some reasons why you might want to come back to the dentist:
1. You Show Signs of an Infection
After you have a tooth pulled, it is possible that bacteria can enter the extraction site before it has fully healed. Practicing good hygiene will usually avoid this, but you should keep an eye on the situation just in case. Contact us if you experience:
- Extreme discomfort that lasts more than 4 hours after the extraction
- Discomfort that occurs after you initially start to feel better
- Discomfort that cannot be controlled with painkillers
- Fever or chills
- Discharge, swelling, and/or redness at or near the extraction area
- Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, cough, or shortness of breath
- Bad breath
- A sour or bitter taste in your mouth
- Sensitivity to extreme temperatures
- Tenderness in your gums, jaw, or neck
How It’s Treated
The above symptoms could indicate an infection of the month or in the bone. Bone infections, called osteomyelitis, are rare. In either case, we can flush the infection and prescribe antibiotics that will solve the problem.
What You Can Do at Home
After your appointment, be sure to follow all of the instructions we provide. If you are prescribed antibiotics, take the full course, even if you start feeling better before you finish. Infections can come back stronger when antibiotics are taken incorrectly.
2. You Develop Dry Socket
Dry socket happens when the protective blood clot that forms around your socket becomes dislodged, revealing the nerve underneath and exposing the bone. When this happens, you can feel extreme discomfort and
the area is exposed to develop infections. Fortunately, we can dress the site and provide medication that will make you feel better quickly.
How It’s Treated
It is important to contact a dentist as soon as you suspect you have dry socket. Severe discomfort is enough to indicate that this is a possibility. We will examine the socket and possibly take some X-Rays to make sure the pain isn’t being caused by pieces of bone or root that might have remained after the extraction.
Next, we will flush the socket clean of food debris and other particles. There are several medicated gels and pastes that can be used with dressings to provide fast relief. Depending on the severity of the situation, these might need to be changed several times.
What You Can Do at Home
We will probably recommend some painkillers that will continue to make you feel better. At-home care can also include flushing the wound with a special syringe. You will receive instructions on how to do this, and usually, salt water or medicated rinses are recommended. You can expect to feel fully recovered within a few days.
3. Your Teeth Shift Following the Extraction
Tooth extractions create a gap in your mouth that has the potential to distort the alignment of your other teeth. Some surrounding teeth might shift out of their positions to try to fill in this empty area. One or more teeth might also “super erupt,” or grow in size without the pressure of the extracted tooth keeping them in place. These issues can create crooked teeth and malocclusions, or bite problems.
It’s important to get dental attention if this happens. Crooked teeth are harder to clean, which affects your hygiene and makes you susceptible to cavities and gum disease. You might also experience difficulty chewing, biting your cheek, or speaking properly. In a worst-case scenario, you could experience bone loss or gum recession around the extracted tooth, which might even affect the way your face looks.
When Should You Call a Dentist?
If you notice that your teeth are starting to look crooked after an extraction, schedule a follow-up appointment with us right away. This is especially important if you find you are having problems with your bite.
How It’s Treated
All of the issues above can be corrected or prevented easily. There are several ways to fill in the empty area that the extraction left behind. Most involve artificial replacement teeth. You could receive a dental implant, which lasts for a long time and functions as a natural tooth would. Implants also have aesthetic advantages because they are made with crowns that look exactly like real teeth. These crowns are attached to anchors that can be installed by an oral surgeon. Sometimes, you can get several crowns over a few anchors. This is called a bridge.
Dentures or partial dentures are some other options. These devices are artificial teeth that fit over your gums. They attach to your other teeth and can be removed and inserted easily. In the case of extraction, you will only need dentures that cover the gap. One advantage to getting these is that they don’t require surgery.
4. We Recommend a Check-Up
Sometimes, we will want to schedule a follow-up appointment after your extraction. This is a good idea because it provides a chance to check the socket and make sure the healing is going well. We will also use this time to look at the alignment of your teeth and make sure no unwanted shifts are happening. In some cases, it might that you will need implants or dentures even before the extraction is done.
The Benefits of Good Tooth Extraction Aftercare
While tooth extractions can be a source of anxiety for some people, they are really quite easy and beneficial. There are many reasons why you might need an extraction. Many people have teeth that can’t erupt because there is no place for them, and they can throw the other teeth out of alignment. Some people need to have one or more extractions to achieve the best results from their braces. In other cases, an infected or damaged tooth might need to be removed to preserve oral health. Extractions
are done for over 10 million wisdom teeth each year alone.
Your teeth are strong, and they are made to last throughout your whole life. However, only proper dental care can make this possible. We are lucky to live in an age where almost all dental problems can be solved easily and comfortably. Tooth extractions can benefit the health of your entire mouth, from the way you chew your food to preventing chronic conditions like gum disease. If you need to get an extraction, don’t worry. It’s a very common procedure. The chances of developing an infection or another issue are small and, as you can see, easy to correct.
You Can Be Confident About Our Care
Talking about getting your teeth pulled isn’t always fun. However, with an experienced dental practice and the right tooth extraction aftercare, you will look back on the experience and realize it wasn’t difficult at all. Remember, millions of teeth are extracted every year, greatly improving the dental health of patients.
At our practice, we take careful measures to ensure that your extraction goes perfectly and that you are comfortable throughout. Even if you have had your extraction done at a different practice, we can treat a problem situation quickly. Contact Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, GA for more information on our dental services. We are proud to provide gentle care and healthy smiles.