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After Tooth Extractions

Proper care after tooth extraction can ensure minimal complications

tooth-extractionTooth extraction can be a necessary dental procedure. It may relieve decay, facilitate dental treatment or eliminate the pain and structural risks caused by wisdom teeth.

And while the tooth extraction itself is a serious procedure, aftercare is just as serious. Healing takes time, as the empty socket where your tooth was gradually fills in with bone and smooths over with adjacent gum tissue.

Dr. Terri believes it is vital for Geneva, NY patients to be well versed in managing the risks of pain and infection associated with extraction.

General best practices
  • Eat soft foods, preferably high in protein.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, but do not drink through a straw for 5-7 days.
  • Take all prescribed medications according to their instructions.
  • If itching or swelling occurs, contact Dr. Terri office.
  • If you are a regular tobacco user, refrain from smoking for 3-4 days; smoking can dry the socket and increase the risk of infection.

Immediately after surgery

  • Put pressure on the gauze pad placed on the surgical area by gently biting down.
  • Maintain constant pressure in intervals of 45-60 minutes until bleeding lessens.
  • Dampen the gauze sponge with water if it begins to dry out.
  • Change gauze as needed.
  • Use ice packs to control swelling.
  • Keep your head elevated.
  • Minimize activity.
  • If itching or swelling occurs, contact Dr. Terri office.

48 hours after surgery

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water every 12 hours.
  • Avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol, as it can irritate the wound.
  • Keep your mouth clean by brushing areas around the surgical site, taking care to avoid the sutures.
  • Do not touch the wounded area at all.
  • Use ice packs to control swelling.

Three to 14 days after surgery

  • Your sutures should fall out or dissolve on their own during this time; for sutures not designed to fall out or dissolve, Dr. Terri will schedule a follow-up appointment to remove the stitches.

Additional steps to Proper Aftercare

Dry Socket

Pain should gradually subside in the days after extraction. If you experience throbbing pain shooting up toward the ear, you may be experiencing dry socket, which occurs when the blood clot in the empty socket becomes irritated or falls out before healing is complete. Without the blood clot, food and debris can enter the socket, causing irritation. Tobacco users and women taking oral contraceptives are at higher risk of developing dry socket. While dry socket is not an infection, it likely will require professional treatment, so call Dr. Terri if you suspect it has developed.

Dead Tooth Fragments (Bone Sequestra)

In some cases, not all tooth fragments are completely removed during extraction. During the recovery period, these sharp, dead bone fragments slowly work themselves out of the gums as part of natural healing. If you experience intense pain, call Dr. Terri.

Difficulty Opening And Closing Mouth (Trismus)

If you experience a sore jaw or difficulty chewing and swallowing, you may be experiencing trismus, or soreness of the jaw joints and muscles. This can last from three to five days after surgery. If the soreness does not subside, contact Dr. Terri.


Patients are often required to fast before surgery, so your blood sugar levels may be lower than normal. Eat something soft and sugary, stay in a relaxed position and stand up slowly.


While it may subside within a few hours, an extended lack of feeling around the mouth is normal for up to 12 hours after surgery.


This should subside almost completely within 10 days after surgery. Starting as soon as you get home from surgery, apply an ice pack to your face near the area of extraction. Continue using the ice in 15-minute intervals for the first day and a half. After 36 hours, apply a warm, damp cloth instead of ice.

Excessive bleeding

Some bleeding is normal after extraction. Pink-tinted saliva and light oozing is fairly common during the first 36 hours. Apply pressure with dampened gauze pads to reduce bleeding. As an alternative, a moistened tea bag can be used; the tannic acid in tea can help blood vessels contract. Try to avoid sitting upright, exercising and getting excited or upset, as these can increase blood flow to the head. If bleeding shows no signs of diminishing or increases after 48 hours, contact Dr. Terri office.

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