Although it’s always ideal to keep your natural teeth, there are some cases where a tooth extraction is the safest path forward. For instance, if you have impacted wisdom teeth or a severely damaged tooth, Mehrnoosh Darj, DDS, may suggest an extraction.
Both simple extractions and surgical extractions are available at Dr. Darj Dental in El Paso, Texas. If your tooth is beyond saving, our team is here to help you through the process of extraction and, if necessary, replace your tooth with a bridge or implant.
Once you’ve had your tooth extracted, here’s what you can expect afterward and the steps you should take to ensure a smooth recovery.
Your first steps after a tooth extraction
When it comes to caring for yourself after a tooth extraction, there are a few things to consider: your emotional state, your pain, your diet, and extraction site wound care.
Get some rest
Your first priority after an extraction is to rest and give yourself the time and space to recover. After a simple extraction, you may still feel like resting the remainder of the day, especially if you had oral sedation. If you’ve had a surgical extraction, rest is even more important. Plan on taking at least a few days to get back to your normal self.
Manage the pain when the numbness wears off
Immediately after your extraction and for several hours afterward, your mouth is numb. To prevent accidentally biting your tongue or cheek, don’t eat or drink until all of the numbness subsides.
As the anesthetic wears off, you may experience discomfort and swelling. This is normal and to be expected. You can manage your discomfort by taking pain medication as directed and applying a cold compress to your face.
Prevent dry socket
After your extraction, your body creates a blood clot in the now-empty tooth socket. This is a normal part of your body’s healing process, and the blood clot protects the exposed nerves and bone tissue at the extraction site.
Dry socket is a painful condition that happens when the blood clot is accidentally dislodged. When the clot is compromised, your nerves and bone may be exposed, causing pain and irritation.
You can reduce your risk of dry socket by:
- Not using a straw (the sucking motion can harm the clot)
- Avoiding mouthwash until Dr. Darj clears you to swish again
- Being careful not to brush the blood clot
- Eating soft food
Eating hard food or foods with sharp pieces can dislodge the blood clot and contribute to dry socket. A soft food diet doesn’t mean you’re stuck with gelatin for days, however.
Examples of healthy-but-tasty soft foods include scrambled eggs with cheese, mashed potatoes, soups and stews, cottage cheese with fruit purees, smoothies (make it a smoothie bowl and skip the straw!), yogurt, brown rice or farro, boiled carrots, baked sweet potatoes, boneless fish, beans, and pasta.
Tip: Prepare some of these foods ahead of time, so they’re ready during your recovery and you don’t have to do the work when you’re tired after your extraction.
Dr. Darj provides specific post-extraction instructions based on the number of teeth pulled, the location of teeth pulled, and type of extraction. Following your after-care instructions helps reduce your risk of infection.
If you’re prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Always complete the full course of antibiotics, even if you feel fine. Use a saline rinse — but wait 24 hours — to help with healing.
If you spot any signs of infection, such as fever, oozing, or increasing pain, let us know right away.
Preventing future extractions
While extractions have an important role to address teeth that can’t be saved, our dedicated team also works with you to reduce the need for tooth extraction. Dr. Darj offers dental sealants to help protect against decay as well as gum disease treatments (gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss).
If you have questions about an upcoming tooth extraction, we encourage you to reach out to us. Give us a call at 915-213-4097, or you can book an appointment online anytime.