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10 May 2016

What post-operative care to take after a tooth extraction

After having your tooth removed, the socket is tender so you need to rest and take it easy. As much as possible, keep your head up to avoid bleeding. Any strenuous exercise and activities, or anything that increases your blood pressure should be avoided. Limit yourself to minimal movements and easy tasks. Lie down on a couch and read a book, listen to music, or watch TV, for example.

For the first 24 hours after extraction, do not rinse your mouth out. It’s crucial to allow your socket to heal on its own, and this includes taking care not to damage the blood clot that has formed on the socket. Touching the socket or putting pressure on it while still in its delicate condition can affect healing and allow infection to take hold. To prevent extra pressure on the socket, eat and chew on the other side of your mouth. Also, avoid touching your tongue to the socket and take care not to chew the inside of your cheek. The latter is a common occurrence after extraction, especially when one is numb to pain.

Avoid hot food and drinks like soup or tea until your anesthetic wears off. This is because while your anesthetic is still in effect, you cannot feel pain and may scald yourself. Also avoid taking alcohol and smoking as it may only encourage bleeding and delay the healing process. Eat and drink soft, lukewarm food and avoid chewing on the extracted area.

After extraction, it is important to keep your teeth and mouth clean. Take extra care and brush gently especially around the extraction site. Make sure to brush thoroughly to keep the socket free from food and debris. Otherwise, leftover food will rot and attract bacteria. After 24 hours of not rinsing your mouth, you may start using either an over-the-counter antiseptic mouthwash, or a salt-water mouthwash, which can help clean and heal the socket. A salt-water mouthwash is a simple mixture of one teaspoon salt dissolved in a glass of warm water. Do this twice a day for at least a week. While the extracted area is healing, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet, preferably packed with lots of Vitamin C. You may also take your usual dose of Vitamin C supplement to help the wound heal faster.

When resting or trying to sleep, keep your head higher by bolstering it up with an extra pillow. As a precaution, put a towel over your pillow to absorb the blood in case the extracted area bleeds. If you do notice bleeding, do not rinse your mouth. Instead, apply pressure to the socket. Place a sterile piece of cotton ball or handkerchief on the extracted area. Bite on the piece of cotton or handkerchief firmly for at least 15 minutes. Replace cotton when necessary. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after an hour or two, contact your dentist right away.

After extraction, dentists usually prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen or Paracetamol to relieve you from pain. Never take an aspirin as this can cause your mouth to bleed more. This is because aspirin thins blood slightly. If the pain is continuous or gets stronger, one explanation may be there is little or no blood clot on the socket and the socket walls are exposed and have become infected. In this case, you may need antibiotics to deal with the infection and lessen the pain. Whatever the case, consult your dentist immediately if the pain is persistent

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