Jamaica Plain

What To Do After Tooth Extraction?

In the aftermath of a tooth extraction, a patient usually feels at least some pain or discomfort, which is completely understandable, given the fact that a tooth has just been wrenched out of your mouth. Once the local anesthetic wears off, some amount of discomfort almost always pops up, and this may call for an over-the-counter painkiller to reduce the swelling and pain. The socket which once held a tooth is now empty, but it can certainly still be painful. It generally takes between one and two weeks for all that to subside (a little longer for a wisdom tooth), and for the mouth to be pain-free again.

With the pain gone, you'll be able to think clearly again, and take some steps to protect the surgery site, so that nothing harmful like an infection develops there. In the immediate period following extraction, you should bite down on the gauze pad offered by your dentist, probably for about 30 minutes. It's a good idea to avoid food and beverages that are really hot or cold, because either one may irritate the surgery site. When you get to this point, you'll be ready to follow the after-care instructions provided by your dental professional.

After-care measures

When a tooth is extracted from your mouth, blood will fill in the site of extraction, and a blood clot will form soon afterward. The blood clot is important because it prevents further bleeding, and also serves to protect the underlying nerves and bone. It also serves as a foundation for the new gum line and the bone material which will eventually develop. If you were to disturb that blood clot, it could cause continued bleeding, additional swelling, delayed healing, and some fairly severe pain, all because the underlying nerves and bone have been exposed.

That makes it very important to follow after-care instructions provided by your dentist, so the healing process can be expedited, and so no complications develop. The time it takes for a surgical site to heal will always depend on the size of the cut made, the complexity of performed surgery, and the patient's overall health status. While in the healing process and particularly during the first 48 hours following tooth extraction, be sure to avoid all the potential disturbances that can interfere with the blood clot:

• rinsing your mouth out
• using a straw
• spitting in a powerful manner
• smoking
• hot beverages or foods
• touching the tooth socket with your finger or your tongue
• consuming aspirin, because that will hinder the blood clotting action of your body
• strenuous exercise
• lifting heavy objects. 

Tooth replacement options

You'll probably want to replace that missing tooth that's just been extracted. This is a good idea, because if you don't replace the tooth, the other teeth in that area might begin to slide toward the gap where the tooth once was. There may also be a loss of functionality with eating or speaking, which can only be recovered by replacing the tooth. When you do decide to have the tooth replaced, you'll have a number of options. The most popular and most long-lasting treatment you can undergo is to have a dental implant installed.

Dental implants provide a permanent solution for a missing tooth, and the implant itself serves as a substitute for your tooth root, anchoring the artificial tooth firmly in place. There is no better solution in dentistry for a missing tooth than having a dental implant installed. This is true from the standpoint of functionality, longevity, and appearance. The dental implant will probably last your entire lifetime, even if the artificial tooth requires replacement in a few years.

With an implant and new tooth in place, you'll be able to eat all the foods you like with no slipping or sliding of your new dental appliance. You'll also have no problem speaking clearly, and generating a dazzling new smile. Another option for tooth replacement is a fixed bridge, and this operates by installing supportive hardware on the teeth nearest the missing one. The two teeth on either side of the missing one will support some kind of framework that will hold a replacement tooth, and provide good functionality to the patient.

Partial dentures provide a removable option for tooth replacement, because they can and should be taken out of the mouth each night. This gives your gums a chance to recover from all the rubbing which took place during the day. It also provides you with an opportunity to clean your dentures in a cleaning solution overnight. Next morning, all you have to do is brush down the denture, and wash out your mouth with a washcloth before re-inserting the partial denture. You may have to adjust to wearing the partial denture, but with practice it will become second nature to you.

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