Extractions

There are times when it is necessary to extract a tooth, due to injury, decay or preparation for a dental implant.

Extraction of a tooth is referred to as oral surgery and the dentist can usually perform this procedure in his surgery, after administering local anesthetic to the patient.

After a tooth has been extracted, there are important dos and don’ts for you to follow which will be discussed with you. These include:

After one or more teeth have been removed, you will want to do all the right things for the area to heal quickly and smoothly. This requires that a blood clot is formed. The blood clot covers the extraction site and allows the area to heal. A lot of the tips below help the blood clot to form properly and not become dislodged.

Do’s:

  • Start taking painkillers immediately afterwards to ease any discomfort – don’t wait until pain sets in. The dentist will advise you regarding which pain killer to take.
  • Go home, take it easy for the rest of the day, and don’t exercise for at least 12 to 24 hours. If you lie down, keep your head up with pillows if possible. Do not bend over or do heavy lifting for 2-3 days.
  • If you still feel numbness at the extraction site 6 hours later, call the dentist.
  • The dentist will let you know how to control any bleeding. Usually, a gauze pad will be placed on the area, and you should try and keep firm pressure on it. You should change this dressing about every 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the amount of bleeding.
  • While you shouldn’t rinse for the first 24 hours, after this initial period you should gently rinse 4 times a day using warm salt water.
  • The dentist may also advise you to use chlorhexidine mouth rinse for 10 days or so following surgery. This kills bacteria.
  • Be careful not to dislodge the blood clot when brushing near the extraction site for 3-4 days. You can carefully wipe the area with a clean, wet gauze pad
  • Stick to a liquid or soft food diet for the first day or two. Examples include soups, yoghurts, fruit milkshakes, smoothies, mashed potatoes, etc.
  • If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics, follow the instructions and make sure you finish the course.
  • Swelling and sometimes bruising can occur after surgery, especially with “wisdom teeth”. The worst swelling, pain and jaw stiffness normally occurs 2 or 3 days after surgery. On the day of the surgery, apply ice packs for 15 minutes on then 15 minutes off until bedtime. This will keep swelling to a minimum. Also keep your head elevated until bedtime. Moist heat after 36 hours may help jaw soreness.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t be tempted to rinse the area for 24 hours after tooth removal.
  • Avoid hot food or drinks until the numbing wears off. You cannot feel pain while you’re numb and may burn your mouth. Also take care not to accidentally chew your cheek!
  • Don’t poke at the extraction site!
  • Try not to smoke for as long as possible afterwards, but at the very least for the rest of the day.
  • Avoid alcohol for 24 hours, as it could delay the healing process.