Tooth extraction is a minor surgical procedure.  It is natural that temporary changes will occur in the mouth afterward.  You'll be functioning normally in just a few days.  In the meantime, you should follow a few simple rules to help promote healing, prevent complications, and make yourself comfortable. 

ANESTHETICS:  The length of time you experience numbness varies depending on the type of anesthetic you've received.  While your mouth is numb, you'll want to be careful not to bite your cheek, lip, or tongue.  The numbness should subside within a few hours.

BLEEDING:  There may be some bleeding or oozing after the pack is removed.  If so, follow this procedure.

  • Fold a piece of clean gauze into a pad thick enough to bite on.  Dampen the pad and place it directly on the extraction site.
  • Apply moderate pressure by closing the teeth firmly over the pad.  Maintain this pressure for about 30 minutes.  If the pad becomes soaked, replace it with a clean one as necessary.
  • Do not suck on the extraction site.
  • If heavy bleeding continues, call us.  (Remember that a lot of saliva and a little blood can look like a lot of bleeding.)

THE BLOOD CLOT: After an extraction, a blood clot forms in the tooth socket.  This clot is an important part of the normal healing process.  You should therefore avoid activities that might disturb the clot.  Here's how to protect it:

  • Do not smoke, rinse your mouth vigorously, or drink through a straw for 24 hours.  These activities create suction in the mouth, which could dislodge the clot and delay healing.
  • Do not clean the teeth next to the healing tooth socket for the rest of the day.  You should, however, brush and floss your other teeth thoroughly.  Gently rinse your mouth afterward.
  • Limit strenuous activity for 24 hours after the extraction. 

SWELLING AND PAIN: After a tooth is removed, you may have some discomfort and notice some swelling.  You can help reduce swelling and pain by applying ice to the face on and off for several hours after the extraction. 

MEDICATION:  We may prescribe medication to control pain and prevent infection.  Use it only as directed.  If the medication prescribed does not seem to work for you, do not increase the dosage.  If you have prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding, or fever, call us immediately.  We will give you exact instructions on how to care for your problem.

DIET:  After the extraction, drink lots of liquids and eat soft, nutritious foods.  Avoid alcoholic beverages and hot liquids.  Begin eating solid foods the next day or as soon as you can chew comfortably.  For about two days, try to chew foods on the side opposite the extraction site.

RINSING:  The day after the extraction, gently rise your mouth with warm salt water (half a teaspoon of salt in an 8-oz. glass of warm water).  Rinsing after meals is important to keep food particles out of the extraction site, but remember not to rinse your mouth vigorously.  Avoid using a mouthrinse or mouthwash during this early healing period. 

ORAL HYGIENE: It is important to continue to brush and floss your teeth thoroughly at least once a day.  The tongue should also be brushed.  This will help eliminate the bad breath and unpleasant taste that is common after an extraction.  Always use a soft-bristled brush so that you do not injure the tissues in your mouth.  On the day of the extraction, avoid cleaning the teeth next to the healing tooth socket.