Answering Common Questions About Recovering From a Tooth Extraction

Tooth extractions in Palm Beach Gardens may be necessary because of an injury, infection, or over-crowded teeth. Your dentist will use a strong anesthetic around the area of the extraction to ensure the procedure is pain-free. Once the tooth is extracted, the dentist will place gauze over the area to prevent infection and promote healing.

Here are some common questions and a checklist of how to avoid complications and ensure a complete and speedy recovery.

How long will it take to recover from a tooth extraction?

Recovery time varies from person to person and depends on a few different factors. Some teeth have longer roots than others, so healing will take longer. As a general rule, though, pain related to your extraction is usually gone within three days.

What is dry socket?

When a tooth has been extracted, it leaves bone, tissue, and nerves exposed. That bone, tissue, and nerve material is protected by the blood clot that forms where the extracted tooth was originally positioned. That blood clot is extremely important, but also vulnerable to being dislodged. When that blood clot is dislodged, the patient experiences a condition called dry socket (also referred to as alveolar osteitis).

Dry socket is extremely painful because it leaves nerves exposed. Dry socket-related pain is usually not suppressed by over-the-counter pain medication, alone. Your dentist in Palm Beach Gardens will have to prescribe pain medication.

What can cause dry socket?

There are several known factors that seem to contribute to the development of dry socket. They include:

  • Smoking
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Bad oral hygiene habits
  • Drinking with a straw shortly after an extraction
  • Infected teeth or gums in the area of the extracted tooth
  • Use of oral birth control or estrogen replacement therapy

What are the symptoms of dry socket?

Experiencing pain after an extraction is not, on its own, an indication of dry socket. But, pain that is severe or worsens rather than improves or persists beyond three days may indicate dry socket. In addition to severe, worsening, or persistent pain, symptoms of potential dry socket include:

  • A blood clot that seems to be missing by looking or gently feeling with your tongue
  • Visible bone at the site of the extraction
  • A foul smell emitting from your mouth
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Pain that radiates from the area of the extracted tooth to the neck, temple, eye, or ear on the same side of your face.

If you’re experiencing these potential symptoms of dry socket, you should contact the dentist who performed your extraction or, after hours, an emergency dentist near you.

What are the keys to a successful recovery from an extraction?

We talked about dry socket first because it can be extremely painful and because many parts of a good post-extraction care plan are designed to avoid dry socket. Now, we’ll break down the general best practices for recovering from a tooth extraction: over the first couple days; then after the first couple days.

The first few days after an extraction

  • Anticipate some low-level bleeding for the first 24 hours
  • Don’t change the gauze in your mouth for the first few hours after your extraction, but then change it as required
  • To avoid dry socket, do not: rinse, swish, gargle, use straws, spit, blow your nose, sneeze, or smoke
  • Cold compresses, over-the-counter pain medication, and elevating your head will help reduce pain
  • If you were prescribed any medication, take it precisely as directed
  • Eat only soft foods such as soup (not too hot), yogurt, apple sauce, and smoothies (not too cold)

After the first couple of days following an extraction, and until the tenth day

  • Starting on day three, and assuming your clot is secure, rinse your mouth gently with salted water
  • Brush and floss as you normally would, but not in the area of the extracted tooth
  • Continue to eat only soft foods

If you have any questions about tooth extractions near you, we encourage you to reach out to a dentist in Palm Beach Gardens who will be happy to help.

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