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There are several reasons why you might need a tooth extracted. If you have a tooth damaged beyond repair, it is easier and safer to remove it altogether. Other reasons to have a tooth extracted include having an impacted tooth, commonly seen in wisdom teeth, or if you are experiencing advanced periodontal disease. Regardless of the reason for tooth extraction, you might be wondering what the procedure is like and how long it takes to heal after an extraction.

What is a tooth extraction?

The process of having a tooth removed is called a tooth extraction. Depending on the situation, you might be able to have the tooth simply pulled without the need for surgery, or your oral surgeon may need to perform what is known as a surgical extraction. Occasionally, what starts as a simple extraction can turn into the need for surgical extraction if the tooth fractures or if your oral surgeon has trouble pulling the tooth. Regardless of how the extraction is completed, you will receive some form of anesthesia to make the procedure painless.

How is a tooth extraction completed?

The process of extracting a tooth depends on what kind of extraction is being performed.

For a simple extraction, your dental professional will numb the area with a local anesthetic. Then the tooth is loosened with a tool called an elevator. Once it is loosened enough, your oral surgeon will pull it out using dental forceps.

If a surgical extraction is required, the procedure will also begin with anesthesia. The type and amount of anesthesia used will depend on how complicated the procedure is anticipated to be. Once the area is completely numb, your oral surgeon will cut away any tissue or bone to expose the tooth as necessary, then an elevator will be used to loosen the tooth away from the bone, usually using a rocking motion. This rocking motion compresses the sponge-like bone around the tooth root to make it easier to remove. Once there is space between the bone and the tooth, your oral surgeon can extract it with dental forceps.

Will I experience pain after my tooth extraction?

You should expect to experience some discomfort after you have a tooth extracted. You may also experience some of the following symptoms after your procedure:

  • Swelling
  • Light bleeding
  • Tenderness at the extraction site
  • Sore jaw

Typically, these symptoms can be managed with ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Still, if your pain is unmanageable with over-the-counter pain relievers, you should reach out to your dental professional to get checked out. Your oral surgeon should provide you with post-op instructions, and if you follow them, you will reduce the risk of any complications after your procedure.

What are the day-by-day healing stages after a tooth extraction?

Within the first 12 hours of your procedure, your bleeding should have stopped completely. Blood clots will begin to form, and at first, you may see some come out of your mouth. This is totally normal and not a cause for concern. If bleeding continues after 24 hours, you should call your oral surgeon right away.

During the first 24 hours, you should:

  • Get a lot of rest!
  • Avoid eating anything hard, crunchy, or sticky
  • Avoid drinking from a straw
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Keep your head elevated, especially when lying down
  • Take ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen to help with pain management and swelling

Two days after your procedure, the majority of your healing will begin to occur. A blood clot should be mainly formed, and any oozing should stop completely. You should:

  • Continue to rest
  • Take pain medication as necessary
  • Change any gauze that your oral surgeon placed over the area
  • Continue to avoid hard, crunchy, or sticky foods
  • Eat soft foods like yogurt or soup
  • Continue to elevate your head

On the third day after your tooth extraction, you may be surprised to find that your empty tooth socket has mostly healed! You should no longer experience any bleeding, and your swelling should be minimal. On this day, you should:

  • Resume your regular brushing and flossing routine
  • Continue to eat soft foods
  • Rinse your mouth with a warm saline solution a few times a day to prevent bacteria from building up and starting an infection

On the fourth through seventh days after your tooth extraction, you should begin to feel back to normal, but you should still take care around the extraction site to avoid aggravating it. Continue to eat soft foods and brush the area very gently.

One week after your extraction, your sutures will be removed if you had them placed, and your dentist will take a good look at the extraction site to make sure it’s healing correctly. If you did not have sutures placed or your sutures are dissolving, be sure to reach out to your dentist if you’re still experiencing significant discomfort or bleeding is still occurring.

What should I look out for after tooth extraction?

Even if your tooth extraction was a simple procedure that went off without a hitch, there is still a chance that you could have post-procedural complications. You should call your oral surgeon immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain that is not improved with over-the-counter pain medications
  • Severe swelling
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fever
  • A bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t improve with a salt rinse or gentle brushing
  • Numbness around the extraction site
  • Pus coming from the extraction site

If any of these symptoms occur, it could be a sign of infection, and your oral surgeon will want to examine you right away.

If you need a tooth extracted or would like to see Dr. John C. Shillingburg at DFW Oral Surgeons for a consultation, call our office today. We look forward to seeing you!