Tooth extractions can be daunting to most individuals, because it isn’t exactly a walk in the park. However, tooth extractions are rarely performed unless deemed absolutely necessary, so it’s important to take comfort in the fact that despite the temporary discomfort it poses, it is usually the best, and most necessary, option available. Tooth extractions don’t have to live up to the daunting experience we all imagine—in fact, if you choose a reputable, gentle dentist who has performed countless extractions over the years, not only will you feel more comfortable going through with it, but the process from start to finish will go much smoother. In this article, we’ll go over what the process of a tooth extraction entails, primarily how to best care for yourself after the procedure is over.
What generally happens when a tooth is extracted?
Tooth extractions are labeled simple or surgical procedures used to remove teeth that have been damaged, broken, or decayed, that are beyond repair and pose a risk to the other teeth in your mouth. There are a few other reasons for tooth extractions that you should know about:
- Wisdom teeth removal
- Teeth affected by chemotherapy or radiation
- Before applying braces or other corrective measures
- To remove extra teeth (such as baby teeth that haven’t fallen out)
The first thing your dentist will do is take an X-ray to make sure there won’t be any unforeseen complications during the extraction. Your dentist should know about any medications you’re on, including any supplements or vitamins that may potentially affect your recovery. You may be prescribed a course of antibiotics before and/or after the surgery to lower the risk of infection, depending on the individual circumstances. Your dentist may also choose to give you an anesthetic during the procedure, depending on your insurance, your requests, and the dentist’s own professional judgement.
Tips for how to best care for yourself post-surgery
The most important tip we can give you is to follow your dentist’s after-care instructions diligently—this will give you the best results and can keep complications from arising. The healing process usually takes up to a few weeks, as long as patients are diligent about their after-care. You can expect the pain or discomfort to go down after a few days post-surgery. Here are a few things you can do to make sure the process goes smoothly:
- Don’t be alarmed by a little bleeding for up to 24 hours, but contact your dentist if it does not subside
- Ice your face to lower the swelling, or move from cold to warm compresses every 20 minutes
- For a few days, eat soft foods that aren’t especially warm
- After the first day, gently rinse your mouth with a warm salt water mixture – this will help prevent infection and help stitches dissolve on their own (unless they need to be removed by your dentist)
- Do not use straws or smoke, as it can compromise the blood clot that has formed and begun to heal the area
- Contact your dentist if you are unsure of your after-care protocol or have any concerns pre- or post-operation
Proper after-care will help you avoid infections and an issue called dry socket, which is where the bone beneath the extraction is uncovered and exposed to bacteria. This is a common issue that occurs after extractions, but with proper after-care can be avoided successfully.
How to prevent the need for a tooth extraction
The best way to prevent the need for extractions is to remain diligent about your oral hygiene. Here are a few tips on how to prevent tooth extractions and other invasive dental procedures:
- Find a dentist with an excellent reputation to help you establish a routine
- Take good care of your teeth by brushing and flossing at least twice a day
- Follow up with any concerning symptoms right away by going to your dentist for a check-up
- Get regular teeth cleanings at least once a year
At the Dental Group of Simi Valley, located in Simi Valley, CA, we always have our patients’ best interest in mind. Our gentle, thorough, and efficient practice allows patients to avoid the pain and discomfort that can sometimes be associated with dental work. We make procedures like extractions simple, straight-forward, and as painless as possible. If you’d like to schedule a check-up with us, please contact one of our helpful professionals today.