When a tooth is so damaged that it cannot be saved with either root canal or treatment of the gums, having it pulled, or a dental extraction, is often required. The procedure involves the dentist numbing the area, and then using surgical instruments to free the tooth from the jawbone. In some cases, pieces of the gum and bone will need to be cut away to remove a tooth. Proper healing of the area will require the patient to follow several important instructions from the dentist.
The first thing to avoid after a tooth has been extracted is spitting or rinsing the mouth for 24 hours. This is often hard to do, because it seems only natural to want to spit out excess blood that may form in the mouth after treatment. The problem is that spitting or rinsing can unseat blood clots that are forming in the area where the tooth has been removed (the socket) and can prolong bleeding. Instead of spitting or rinsing, it is important to bite on the gauze or cotton that the dentist has provided. Keeping pressure on the area should help stop the bleeding within a few hours. Biting against a moist tea bag can also be useful to help end the bleeding. Bleeding that persists longer than eight hours should be brought to the attention of the dentist. The next thing to avoid after a tooth has been extracted is smoking. Smoking, like spitting or rinsing, can have a negative impact on clot formation, which can prolong bleeding. Smoking can also irritate the area where the tooth was removed, delay healing, and may increase the possibility of developing dry socket, a painful condition affecting the treated area. It is also a good idea to avoid eating any food that is too hot, spicy, or crunchy, as they can irritate the area where the tooth was extracted.
To help ease any pain or discomfort after a tooth has been removed, the dentist will often prescribe narcotic pain medication. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprophen (Advil) are also effective in alleviating discomfort after a dental extraction. The dentist should always be informed of any excessive pain persisting several days after a tooth has been extracted. If swelling of the face occurs, it can be treated with an ice pack for the first 24 hours after the procedure, and then with warm compresses thereafter. Warm salt-water rinses can also be used if swelling persists a day or longer after a tooth has been extracted.