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What To Do After Having a Tooth Pulled

Patients need to know what to do after having a tooth pulled. There are a number of things you can do to make yourself much more comfortable. It is also important to follow these guidelines so that you don’t have any complications.

What to do after having a tooth pulledMinimize Any Bleeding

Right after the tooth is taken out, your dentist will pack a gauze pad into the area where the tooth was. You will be asked to bite down on it for 20 minutes or so.

The pressure helps the blood to clot and minimizes any bleeding. If your extraction was more involved, you might need a few self-dissolving stitches.

You may still have a little bleeding for the next 24 hours, but it should reduce to very little.

Try not to disturb the clot that has formed where the tooth was.

Over the Counter Medications

Getting a tooth pulled is surgery so you will have some discomfort. It is normally mild and  taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) usually will take care of most of the pain after a tooth extraction.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are more commonly known as Advil, Motrin and others. Your dentist will tell you how much to take and how many times a day.

You will want to take the first pills probably a couple hours after the procedure, before the local anesthesia wears off. 

If the pain medication doesn’t seem to work for you,  don’t just take more pills or take them more often —call your dentist.

Apply Ice to Reduce Swelling

Immediately after the procedure, you will want to start applying an ice bag the area.  Usually, you want to apply them for 10–20 minutes at a time and then 20 minutes off.

Why Does Ice Work?

It reduces blood flow to the area, which decreases swelling that causes pain. It also surpasses or reduces nerve activity, which also makes it hurt less.

Other Dos and Don’t After a Tooth Extraction

Rest and Relax

When patients ask us what do to after having a tooth pulled, we always recommend taking it easy. If you can, chill out at home for the first 24 hours. It is also best to limit any physical activity for the next two days or so.

Avoid Creating Suction in the Mouth

For the first 24 hours, don’t do anything that creates suction in the mouth, including:

  • Rinsing or spitting forcefully
  • Drinking through a straw
  • Smoking

This can cause the blot clot to come out and create a dry socket.  A dry socket is something you definitely want to avoid, as it can be quite painful.

Avoid Alcohol

Avoid all alcoholic beverages or mouthwash containing alcohol for 24 hours.

Keep Your Mouth Clean

You can continue to brush and floss normally. But just be very careful to avoid the site where the tooth was pulled. Keeping your mouth clean will help prevent infection. Remember not to spit heavily.

Eat Soft Foods

Foods that are soft and cold are the best choices the day you get the tooth pulled. Pudding, yogurt, smoothies, applesauce and jello are all good choices. You can gradually add other foods usually by the second day.

Try a Salt Water Rinse

The use of salt for healing purposes dates all the way back to the Ancient Greeks. After 24 hours, you can rinse with your mouth gently with water and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. a solution made of 1/2 teaspoon salt and 8 ounces of warm water.

Why Does Salt Water Help?

  • Creates a less acid environment, which reduces bacteria.
  • Acts as a mild astringent which reduces inflammation and contracts the tissues.
  • Has a mild heating effect, which after 24 hours is good to promote healing.

When to Call the Dentist After a Tooth Extraction

  • There is uncontrolled bleeding in the area or it continues to ooze or bleed after the first 24 hours
  • The swelling gets worse
  • You get a fever or chills.
  • You have continued numbness.
  • The extraction site is very painful, which could be a dry socket.

If you have any other concerns about what to do after having a tooth pulled, please feel free to contact us.

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