Your surgery is finally over, but that’s only half the battle. You need to be sure that you have a full, healthy recovery in order to reap the full dental benefits of this surgery. Here at San Antonio Periodontics and Implants, your dental well-being is extremely important, so here are a few things to know for after your tooth extraction surgery.
Things to Expect/ Look Out for
- Bleeding – Bleeding after a tooth extraction is not uncommon, and even expected. Blood will likely ooze from the wound for the first 24 to 48 hours, tinting your saliva pink. This is partly because cuts to the gums and lips bleed more because of the saliva in the mouth, which makes it hard for the wound to dry out and form a scab.
- Swelling – Swelling is very normal and to be expected after a surgery. Swelling should slowly increase, reaching its peak around the second or third day after surgery, before steadily declining.
- Dry socket – Dry socket is a rare occurrence in which, instead of decreasing, the pain following your surgery will gradually increase until it is unbearable. Many describe this pain as shooting up toward the ear. Dry sockets happen when the blood clot that forms following the extraction surgery becomes irritated or broken before the healing process is finished. The socket that is formed by the blood clot’s absence can fill up with food and other debris from your mouth, causing pain. If you smoke tobacco or are a woman who uses oral contraceptives, you are at higher risk for dry socket, so keep an eye out for these symptoms. Schedule an appointment immediately if you think you are suffering from dry socket. Contact us online or call us at 210.824.0111 if you have any additional questions or concerns.
- Tooth fragments – In some cases, the surgeon is not able to remove all of the bone fragments from the extracted tooth during the surgery. When this happens, the dead bone fragments, also known as bone sequestra, will be rejected from the gums. This is completely natural and not a cause for concern, but it can cause a bit of pain until the sequestra are removed. If you start to notice sharp bone fragments protruding from your surgical site, contact us online, call 210.824.0111 or set up an appointment today.
- Numbness – If your mouth feels numb, even hours after surgery, don’t fret. Many patients report similar numbness, which can sometimes last 10 to 12 hours after surgery.
Things to Aid Your Recovery
- To combat bleeding/dry socket – It is very important that you allow a blood clot to form over your surgical wound. This will help prevent dry socket and excessive bleeding. For the first hour after your surgery, be sure to bite gently down on the gauze that your doctor places over the surgical area. If the wound is still heavily bleeding after keeping pressure on it for an hour, change the gauze out every 30 to 45 minutes until the bleeding stops. If this doesn’t help, an alternative to gauze is a damp tea bag held the same way over the surgical site. The tannic acid in tea leaves helps to promote blood clotting. If none of this stops the bleeding, contact us online or call 210.824.0111 for further instructions.
- To combat swelling – Swelling is a normal part of your body’s healing process, but that doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. To help reduce swelling, immediately apply ice to your cheek next to the surgical area in 20-minute intervals. Continue to do this for the first 24 hours after surgery while awake. After 48 hours, ice will no longer have a positive effect on the swelling and you should switch to applying moist heat.
- Dental care – For the first 48 hours, don’t rinse around the surgical site. You really want to be careful to avoid disturbing the blood clot! After 48 hours, begin to rinse the mouth out with warm salt water (½ teaspoon salt mixed into a cup of warm water) every one to two hours and after meals to avoid food and bacteria build up in the extraction site. Begin brushing other teeth, while avoiding the extraction site, the night after the surgery. Wait about three to four days before you attempt to clean around the wound. Be very careful not to disturb the blood clot.
- Diet – Preferably, don’t eat anything until your anesthetic has worn off and you have regained sensation in your mouth. Once you are able to eat, try to stick to cooler, softer foods that are high in protein and avoid chewing around the surgical site. Don’t forget to drink a lot of fluids, but don’t use a straw, because the sucking motion can cause increased bleeding and potentially dislodge the blood clot.
- Avoid touching the wound – Because the blood clot is so sensitive and vital to the health of your extract, try not to touch the wound with your tongue, fingers or any other objects. You should also be sure not to rinse your mouth in a vigorous manner or spit, because this could also dislodge the blood clot.
- To combat pain – To avoid heightened discomfort, be sure to take your prescribed pain medication before the anesthetic wears off after surgery. If the prescribed pain medication isn’t enough, you can take ibuprofen or aspirin to supplement each pain pill. If you notice that your pain is frequent and persistent, especially a few days after the surgery, contact us online or call 210.824.0111 for further instructions.
- Physical activity – You’ve just had a surgery, it’s okay to take a break. Try to avoid any strenuous physical activity for the first three to four days after your surgery. Any over exertion can cause your healing process to slow considerably, increasing swelling, bleeding and discomfort. We know, you have a lot to do and sitting around all day might be frustrating, but your mouth will thank you for taking it easy.
- No smoking – Smoking is very bad for dental health in general, but it poses a particular threat when you are recovering from a tooth extraction. You should not smoke until your wound is fully healed, or else risk dry socket and a greatly-slowed rate of recovery.
These are merely guidelines to help you in your recovery. Remember that what your surgeon says is law. If you closely follow your surgeon’s instructions and use these tips as a guide, you should be golden. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us online or call 10.824.0111 and we will take care of you!