Postoperative care following a tooth extraction is critical. Patients who have had a tooth or several teeth extracted should follow their dentist’s instructions to minimise bleeding, swelling, discomfort, and complications.
Immediately after a tooth extraction
- Apply a gauze pad over the surgical site to control the bleeding.
- Take OTC pain relievers and prescribed medication as soon as the numbing agent wears off.
- Restrict strenuous activity for the day.
- Alternate placing ice packs on your cheek for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off to reduce swelling.
- Avoid spitting, smoking, and using a straw for at least a week, so you don’t inadvertently dislodge the blood clot.
Bleeding at the surgery site
Bleeding at the site of the tooth extraction is to be expected following the surgery. Placing a gauze pad over the area and holding it there firmly for about 30 minutes should abate the bleeding. Repeat if necessary.
Swelling after a tooth extraction
Swelling is your body’s normal response to trauma. Swelling after a tooth extraction may not become apparent until the day following your surgery.
A simple tooth extraction will have minimal swelling, whereas a complex tooth extraction of impacted wisdom teeth or the removal of multiple teeth may result in significant swelling.
The more your dentist has to work on the soft tissues in your mouth, the more trauma and swelling you will experience.
It is not uncommon to have swelling around the mouth, cheeks, side of your face, and even your eyes. The swelling may persist for several days, which is a normal reaction to the surgery.
How to reduce swelling after an extraction
Apply an ice pack
Swelling can be mimimised by applying ice packs to the side of your face where you had surgery. Ice packs are only effective for about 24 hours.
Elevate your head
Try to keep your head above your heart and sit upright. When lying down, use a couple of pillows to elevate your head. This can help to alleviate the swelling.
Take pain relievers
Over the counter pain relievers can lessen any discomfort, as well as help decrease swelling.
Apply a warm compress
The swelling peaks at around day 2 or 3. Applying a warm compress for 20 minutes on and 20 off can reduce the swelling at this stage. The warm compress can also help to fade any discolouration of your skin, which occasionally occurs as the swelling subsides.
Also, begin to use salt water rinses to help kill bacteria and ease swelling but avoid spitting.
Eat a soft food or liquid diet
Yoghurts, applesauce, and smoothies are good food options following an extraction. They are easy to eat when your mouth and face are swollen. They are also nutritious. Cold and tepid foods can help alleviate the swelling.
Avoid using a straw in case you accidentally dislodge the blood clot. This can lead to a condition called dry socket, which is when the nerves and bones underneath are exposed. If this occurs, call our practice for advice.
At Woonona Dentists, we’ve been providing tender and considerate dental care to our patients for more than 40 years. If you have any concerns following a tooth extraction or would like to book an appointment for a dental service, please call our practice on (02) 4210 9078.