How to Take Care of Yourself After a Tooth Extraction | Southstar Drug
Tooth extractions are a relatively simple procedure that a lot of adults and children undergo at some point in their lives. Generally, dentists or oral surgeons require a patient to undergo a tooth extraction in cases of tooth decay or infection, trauma-induced tooth damage, gum disease, or crowded teeth. If you have an unsalvageable tooth, persistent oral issues, or teeth that obstruct the placement of dental devices (i.e., braces), you may need a professional to surgically remove the problematic tooth (or teeth).
Thanks to developments in medicine such as the invention of strong anesthetics, tooth extractions are much less painful and critical than they used to be. Still, it’s important to know the best aftercare practices to help you recover quickly and maintain good oral health. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you heal properly following a tooth extraction.
Take Some Time Off to Rest
Even if you only got a tooth removed, you still need ample time to rest. Within the first 24 hours of your surgery, make sure to avoid strenuous physical activities that can raise your pulse and potentially open up the wound caused by the tooth extraction. Veer away from activities such as exercise to prevent increased blood flow to your head, which may cause bleeding in the extraction area.
On a related note, it’s important to keep your head elevated as much as possible. Keeping your head upright allows clots to develop and prevents swelling by hindering the flow of blood into the extraction site. You can rest your head on a pillow to stay comfortable while in a straightened position.
The recovery period for tooth surgery can take up to two weeks, although most people feel healed enough to get back to work or school within a couple of days. However, if your job involves heavy manual labor, you may need a few more days off to stay away from constant physical activity. It would also be a good idea to stay at home and buy online medicine prescribed by your doctor instead of disrupting your rest by physically going to the drugstore.
Apply an Ice Pack
Post-surgical inflammation can take a week to heal, but you can manage swelling by applying a cold or ice pack to the side of your face near the extraction site. Doing so slows down blood flow, which aids in clot formation and alleviates the pain by numbing the affected area. Cold therapy normally leaves bruises on your cheek, but this is part of the healing process and will eventually go away. Make sure to keep the ice pack on your face for around 10 minutes at a time between 5-minute intervals.
That said, cold therapy is usually effective within the first two days after your surgery. Contact your doctor immediately once you feel increased pain or itchiness in the affected area after applying the cold or ice pack.
Be Mindful of What You Drink
You may feel tempted to have a cup of coffee or tea after your surgery, but this will only do more harm than good. Hot liquids increase swelling by encouraging blood flow into the extraction site, ultimately prolonging your healing.
Moreover, it’s best to avoid drinking soda and beer after your tooth surgery. Chemicals in carbonated beverages and alcohol can damage blood clots forming in the extraction site, causing a painful condition known as a dry socket. Essentially, a dry socket is when a blood clot dissolves, gets dislodged, or fails to develop on the extraction site before the wound heals. Left unattended, a dry socket can cause nerve damage, severe infections, and deterioration in your jaw bones.
Your doctor may recommend avoiding alcohol, soda, and hot drinks for 72 hours or more. That said, you should drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and your mouth clean and free from bacteria.
Don’t Smoke or Use Straws
Similar to alcohol and carbonated drinks, cigarette smoke contains chemicals that can break down blood clots and cause a dry socket. Aside from smoking, you should avoid drinking with a straw to prevent clots from dislodging and causing a dry socket.
Eat Soft Foods
Having a diet of soft foods allows you to get the nutrients that you need without experiencing too much pain and discomfort. During the first few days of your procedure, you may want to abide by a diet of fruit smoothies (served in a glass with a spoon), yogurt, oatmeal, pudding, mashed avocado, and scrambled eggs. You may also want to add soft fish like tilapia into the mix along with lukewarm broth or soup. It’s best to limit your diet to soft foods for at least a week after your surgery.
Maintain Your Oral Hygiene
While it’s vital to leave your tooth socket alone to heal, you still need to be mindful of your oral hygiene. Ideally, you should avoid brushing or flossing the impacted area for the first two days. However, you can still rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution to clear up food residue and mitigate infection. Simply mix one teaspoon of table salt with warm water to create the solution and swish it around your mouth. Of course, you should check with your doctor first if this is a safe practice for you to do regularly.
Additionally, it’s best to avoid using a strong, alcohol-based mouthwash to mitigate irritation in your tooth socket. Your doctor may also recommend staying away from toothpaste until your wound fully heals, but you can always check with them to confirm.
Mindfulness Is the Key to Healing Properly
Tooth extractions may involve a small part of your body, but they still cause physical trauma that requires adequate time to heal. While post-surgery wounds often fix themselves over time, you can still take some steps to ensure that the healing process doesn’t get delayed or cause you too much discomfort. Surgeries can get the problem out, but together with good aftercare, you can heal properly from the damage and get yourself back on the horse.