In the field of dentistry, prevention is more important than the cure. However, sometimes teeth cannot be salvaged and as a last resort, we have to perform a tooth extraction. If your tooth needs to be extracted, we’ll make you as comfortable as possible by numbing your mouth and offering additional sedation.
You must have an extracted tooth replaced, either with a dental bridge, implant, or denture. However, before replacing your tooth, you’ll want to know what to expect from the recovery process. In this blog from Lady Bird Dental, we’re giving you a healing timeline and tips on what you can do to speed up your recovery.
Directly after having your tooth extracted, gauze will be placed in the socket to stop the bleeding. You will be instructed to bite down on the gauze for 30 to 60 minutes, which helps the blood to clot.
Change the gauze every few hours, before they become soaked with blood, but make sure to dampen them first. If bleeding persists, you can alternatively use a wet caffeinated tea bag. The tannic acid in these teabags encourages blood clotting to stop bleeding.
Expect some minor bleeding to continue for at least the first 24 hours. You may also experience some discomfort or tenderness around the site of the extraction once the anesthetic has worn off. You can get relief by taking anti-inflammatory pain medication.
For the rest of the day, you should rest and avoid strenuous exercise. Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, eating hard or sticky foods, and all forms of suction for at least the first 48 hours.
Swelling typically peaks 24 hours after the extraction and can be relieved by keeping your head elevated and applying a cold compress to the area. Some minor bleeding, swelling, and discomfort are normal for the first days.
However, these symptoms should subside by day 3. By day 3, the socket will have mostly healed. If you notice that the pain is severe, you have uncontrollable bleeding, or symptoms are becoming worse, contact us right away.
These first couple of days require the most amount of care, as this is a critical period of healing. 3 days after the extraction, you can start swishing around a lukewarm saline solution in your mouth to eliminate bacteria and inflammation.
Brush and floss as per normal but be careful to avoid the site of the extraction. Stick to soft foods for the first few days and chew on the other side of your mouth.
About 7-10 days after your extraction, a blood clot should be firmly in place at the socket. Dissolvable stitches will dissolve on their own but if you were given non-dissolving sutures, you will need to have these removed.
Monitor your symptoms for abnormalities. At this point, if you are still bleeding or have significant pain, you should contact the dentist to make sure you don’t have an infection or dry socket.
You should be fully healed about 3-4 weeks after the extraction. While you may still have some minor sensitivity around the socket, bleeding, inflammation and extreme tenderness should be resolved.
Keep your mouth clean and the socket free of food particles by being persistent with brushing and flossing. It's a good idea to rinse the socket after eating.
With this timeline in mind, if you follow our care tips, you won’t run into any problems and should expect to heal rather quickly. Within just the first 3 days, the socket will have mostly healed and swelling, bleeding, and pain will have greatly subsided.
The most important aspect of healing is to avoid dislodging blood clots. Behaviors that can dislodge a blood clot include smoking, spitting, and sucking through a straw. These activities can cause a painful dry socket and prolong your healing.