Keeping Your Mouth Healthy After an Extraction

A tooth extraction can relieve pain, prevent further dental complications, and keep your mouth healthy in the long-run. But caring for your mouth at home is just as important as the extraction itself.

Our dentists at Eagle River Dental in Eagle River, Alaska, are experts at performing extractions, and they know that taking care of your mouth after your procedure will help your mouth heal and make your treatment a success.

Helping your mouth heal at home

While keeping your permanent teeth is ideal, sometimes removing a decayed, infected, or impacted tooth can save your mouth from further dental complications. But once you get your extraction, you need to make sure your mouth heals properly. Applying these following tips can help:

Apply ice to minimize swelling

Apply a wrapped ice pack to your jaw to minimize swelling and discomfort. But try not to hold it against your face for more than 10 minutes at a time. Holding an ice pack against your skin for too long can result in tissue damage.

Rest for 24 hours

Whenever you undergo a surgical procedure, you should take it easy for a day, so your body can recover and begin the healing process. Avoid strenuous exercise or any other activity that may increase your blood pressure and cause bleeding in your mouth. 

Avoid smoking

You shouldn’t smoke for at least a day after oral surgery, so your mouth can begin the healing process. Smoking may increase your blood pressure, which can lead to bleeding and delay the healing of your gum tissue. In the big picture, a tooth extraction is the perfect time to quit smoking. Quitting will make your mouth healthier and you healthier overall. 

Avoid solid foods and drinking from a straw

Don’t eat hard or crunchy foods or foods that require a lot of chewing until the extraction site has healed, which can take a week or more.

Instead, eat soft foods, such as soup, yogurt, and applesauce, which are easy to chew and swallow. Another benefit of soft foods is they won’t get lodged in the space where your tooth once was, which could cause pain and other complications. 

And while it might be tempting to drink a milkshake or another cold beverage through a straw, don’t do it. Drinking through a straw after a tooth extraction could dislodge the blood clot that forms in your gums after the extraction. This blood clot is necessary for the healing process. 

If the blood clot becomes dislodged, you could end up with dry socket, a painful condition that could delay healing. 

Swish with saltwater and brush gently

After a tooth extraction, it’s important to keep your mouth clean so bacteria and debris don’t cause an infection. However, you need to be careful not to dislodge the blood clot with vigorous rinsing or brushing. Rinse with a warm saltwater solution and brush your teeth gently, but make sure to avoid the area of the extraction. 

Avoid aspirin for pain relief

We will send you home with instructions and a prescription for pain medications after your extraction. We can also recommend which over-the-counter pain relievers are safe to take. Aspirin can make your mouth bleed and slow the healing process, so it’s important to only take recommended medications in the days following your procedure.

Think beyond the extraction

As your mouth heals, it’s a good idea to think about tooth replacement options. Leaving a space between your teeth isn’t beneficial to your oral health. Your adjacent teeth can shift into the space, and eventually your jawbone can begin to deteriorate. 

Our dentists are skilled at a variety of tooth replacement procedures and techniques, including dental implants, crowns, and bridges. We’ll recommend solutions that can help preserve your teeth, enhance your smile, and promote your best oral health. 

If you need an extraction or you’re concerned about a damaged or decayed tooth, we can help. Book an appointment over the phone with Eagle River Dental today.

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