The Importance of Proper Tooth Extraction Care After Your Procedure
To ensure rapid healing and to avoid complications that could be both harmful and painful, Dr. Hester will help provide and guide you through proper tooth extraction care at his Valdosta, GA, dental practice.
When anesthesia has been used, your lips, teeth, and tongue may be numb for several hours after the appointment. We recommend that you avoid eating or chewing until the numbness has completely worn off. It is easy to bite or burn your tongue or lip while numb. It is recommended that you take some ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil, 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed) before the anesthetic completely wears off. This will help with any swelling or pain at the injection sites where your anesthetic was administered.
- Unforeseen Complications. If you suspect any problems with healing do not hesitate to call the office or Dr. Hester. Sometimes patients develop allergies to medications, infection (foul taste, unusual or prolonged swelling), and dry sockets (throbbing pain). These and other potential problems are treatable if brought to our attention.
- Bleeding. To prevent unnecessary bleeding, maintain gentle pressure over the surgery site(s) by biting on gauze. Make sure you are putting pressure on the extraction site itself and not just to adjacent teeth. You have been given a supply of gauze pads. If more are required, they can be purchased at a drug store or supermarket. A tea bag, which has been moistened and wrapped in a piece of gauze, is effective. Pressure should be continued for 1 to 2 hours or until most of the bleeding has stopped. Change the packs every 15 to 20 minutes or when saturated. It is not unusual to have some slight oozing for up to 24 hours. Rest today and keep your head slightly elevated. Do not engage in physical activity since this stimulates bleeding.
- Medications. Unless you already have your medications, pick them up as soon as possible and take as directed. Frequently with oral surgery a long-acting anesthetic is used. This prevents pain but may also prolong numbness for up to 6 to 8 hours. Take a pain pill when you feel like the anesthesia is wearing off. This gets the medicine in your system and hopefully will eliminate pain before the surgery site begins to hurt.
- Eating. It is important to get adequate nutrition after surgery to help in the healing process. Just drink liquid food supplements or juices and eat soft foods such as mashed potatoes, soups, chili and grits today. Do not eat any hard or crunchy foods such as carrots or corn chips. If wisdom teeth are removed, your jaw is temporarily weaker than before surgery. For that reason, you should not chew forcefully for 5 to 6 weeks. To do otherwise could cause a bone fracture.
- Rinsing and Brushing. Do not rinse for the first day after surgery since this could dislodge the blood clot. If teeth were removed, it could lead to a dry socket. After 24 hours, rinse with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of table salt to 8 oz. of water) 3 to 4 times a day for 4 to 5 days. Besides rinsing too soon, other actions that can contribute to dry sockets are smoking and using a straw.
- Ice Packs. To help prevent swelling, ice packs should be applied to the face adjacent to the surgery sites. This is especially important if bone was removed. To the extent possible, apply for periods of 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for 3 hours. Ice is not particularly useful after the first day. After the first day you may choose to use moist heat or heat packs if you have significant swelling. They can be used off and on throughout the day. With most oral surgery, swelling peaks at about 48 hours and then goes down. Significant swelling beyond this time period could indicate infection. If this occurs, please call our office.