Getting teeth pulled is never fun. Dental work can be scary, whether you’re going in for wisdom tooth (third molar) extraction, getting a tooth pulled for orthodontics, or just getting rid of a tooth that’s been causing you pain. The good news is that after the dental work, you’ll probably feel better or you’ll at least be saving yourself from pain in the future. Follow these guidelines to help get back to normal faster and prevent infections, after having a tooth pulled.
Before You Get Your Tooth Pulled
Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into, before you head to the dentist. Depending on your particular situation, you may be in for major oral surgery involving general anesthesia or you may only need a simple extraction where you’re conscious during the procedure.
For extractions involving general anesthesia, it’s likely that you’ll be required to not eat or drink anything from the night before the surgery. You won’t be allowed to drive yourself home afterwards, so you’ll want to arrange someone to transport you to and from the dentist office.
For an extraction with only local anesthesia, you may not be as out of it afterwards, although it’s a good idea to still have a family member or friend there to make sure you get home safely and have everything you need.
Before you go in for your extraction, get everything together that you’ll need to make your recovery more bearable. These are some common things you may want to have on hand:
- Soft foods, such as yogurt, milkshakes, and soup.
- Books, magazines, DVDs, or other materials to entertain yourself in bed.
- A comfortable place where you can recline but still have your head raised, such as a bed or couch with pillows.
- Painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Ice packs you can hold on your face.
Directly After Extraction
The first 24 hours after extraction are when you’ll feel the most pain and discomfort. This is also the time when you’ll need to be careful maintaining the hygiene of your mouth.
Directly after extraction, take the painkillers the doctor has prescribed, even if you have yet to feel any pain. Lack of pain is a sign that your local anesthesia hasn’t yet worn off – and trust me, you’ll be feeling some pain in a few hours. You don’t want to wait until you’re already hurting to take your medicine. Go home and rest for at least an entire day; school, work, and friends/family will have to wait.
Now’s a good time to recline on your bed or couch and ice your face on the side of the extraction. You’ll want to alternate with 10 minutes of ice your face on and 20 minutes off. Drink lots of liquid.
Avoid the following in the first 24 hours after extraction:
- Chewing on the side of the mouth where your wound is.
- Using straws or doing anything that involves sucking, as this may cause the blood clot in your mouth to loosen.
- Alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and hot drinks or food.
The Week After Extraction
In the seven days following your extraction, continue to be careful about your blood clot; don’t touch it. Rinsing your mouth with saltwater after eating and before bed can help reduce the chance of infection. If you’re interested in other tenets of oral hygiene or becoming a dental hygienist, check out Dental Hygienist Training.
Continue eating soft foods and avoid brushing in the area by your extraction for one week. You may take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain, if necessary.
Columbia Health (2007)