Ellis General Dentistry

Dennis W. Ellis, DDS, PA

What is the aftercare following a tooth extraction?

What To Expect

1. Extraction of a tooth results in bleeding which should subside before you leave the office. There is usually continual bleeding at a much reduced level for up to 18 hours after the surgical procedure. When mixed with saliva, the bleeding apprears to be much more than is actually present.

2. The surgical site should remain tender and slightly swollen for up to 72 hours. Then the initial swelling and tenderness will begin to subside. It is not unusual for the soft tissue of the face and neck to exhibit some degree of swelling and bruising which could take up to 10 days to subside.

3. A blood clot will form over the immediate surgical site. It is important not to dislodge or rinse this clot away, because it will form the matrix for the healing to begin. Occasionally, a larger “liver” clot may form in the vicinity of the surgical site and could be small or quite large, but this clot is not part of the healing process and should be gently rinsed out or removed.

4. Sometimes sutures are placed to promote healing. These may be self-resorbing or may require removal one week later. Occasionally, these sutures can loosen or be lost before the week has passed.  Unless there is unusual pain or bleeding, there is no need to be unduly concerned or have the sutures removed.

What To Do

1. Usually you are given a dose of pain reliever before the procedure, and it should give you relief from pain for about six hours from the time of taking it. We also usually use long acting anesthesia for most dental surgery. In this case, the surgical site will remain numb for six to eight hours after the injections before the anesthesia begins to subdue. Generally, only one dose is needed. We recommend ibuprofen (Nuprin, Advil, Motrin)-600 to 800 mg (four tablets)-to be taken every to six hours. If you have a medical condition or gastrointestinal disorder which precludes the use of ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol, Excedrin) is a substitute, although it does not contain anti-inflammatory properties. Aspirin and non-aspirin containing products are not advisable, as they tend to increase bleeding from the area that was treated. 

2. We think that the most important modality for the control of post-operative pain, swelling, and bleeding is the use of ice. We recommend that you gently apply external ice packs to the area for periods of 20 minutes on and 10 minutes off.  Throughout the remainder of the day, we also recommend that you continuously bathe the area in the mouth with crushed ice. The use of ice should continue for the first 24 hours only. 

3. If bleeding persists, apply steady firm pressure for 45 minutes by gently biting on a tea bag that has been moistened and wrapped in a piece of gauze. 

4. Do not rinse or use mouth washes for at least 24 hours. The use of commercial mouth wash during the healing period is not recommended. 

5. In order to keep your mouth clean, you may immediately use the toothbrush in all areas of the mouth not involved with the surgical procedures. Avoid brushing in the area of the surgical site for seven to 10 days, but you may begin brushing the adjacent teeth as soon as 72 hours. 

6. Avoid all excessive activity for 48 hours, refrain from smoking for 12 hours and avoid consuming liquids through a straw.

7. If you find that eating your regular diet is too difficult, you may switch to a soft diet. You need adequate fluid intake to help maintain your strength. 

Please Call Us If…

1. You are experiencing symptoms more intense or of longer duration than those described above.

2. You encounter significant post-operative swelling or fever.

3. If any questions arise. 

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