Tooth extraction is a fairly traumatic procedure, and one that is most perceived with dread and fear. There may be several reasons why you need to get a tooth extracted like, an extensive tooth decay, badly broken or cracked tooth, badly positioned, or the necessity to remove it for creating space. Whatever the reason, know that the procedure is usually painless, apart from the prick of the needle delivering anesthesia. During the procedure, you will be awake and know what is happening, but will not feel any pain. However, you are likely to experience some pain in the area, after the anesthetic effect wears off.
Tooth Extraction Healing Process
The healing process takes quite some time because after extraction, there is a hole (the tooth's empty space) left in the jawbone. This hole gradually fills up with the bone and starts becoming smoother. It may take several weeks or even months for healing process to complete fully, however major healing occurs within 1-2 weeks of extraction. Then the empty space is just of minor inconvenience for the next few days. Although healing time differs from person to person, discomfort, bleeding and swelling is normal during the first 24 hours after extraction. While the swelling may last for 48 hours, complete healing usually takes place in 1-2 weeks. You can expect the gum tissue to heal in 3 to 4 weeks, and the bone will heal completely in 6 to 8 months. However, tooth extraction aftercare plays an important role in tooth extraction recovery.
Tooth extraction healing time also depends on the extraction procedure used. There are two methods of tooth extraction. One is a simple extraction, in which the tooth to be taken out is visible. After administrating local anesthesia, the dentist gets a hold of the tooth using forceps, and then loosens it by moving it back and forth. The tooth may then be pulled out or another instrument called an "elevator" may be used in the process. However, if the tooth cannot be seen easily, has broken off at the gum line, or has not come in as yet, a surgical extraction may be required. In this case, the gum may have to be cut and held back, in order to reach the tooth and extract it. The cut gum is then covered with stitches, which take quite some time to heal.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare
- Within the first 24 hours following the extraction, it is important not to disturb the wound and to follow proper tooth extraction aftercare.
- Start taking painkillers prescribed by your dentist immediately after the extraction because if you delay the intake, the pain will set in.
- Rest is the next important thing to do after a tooth extraction. Once you return home, take complete rest. Do not exercise, bend or lift heavy things for 12 to 24 hours after extraction. Also make sure to keep your head up while sleeping, using pillows, at least for the first night of extraction.
- Blood clot formation is very important to prevent over bleeding and enhancing the healing process. A gauze pad should be placed on the extraction site and constant pressure should be maintained. The dressing should be changed after every 30-40 minutes. It is important not to touch the spot with your fingers and tongue, or poke it.
- Avoid blowing balloons and other such activities that involve extraction area, and take precautions while blowing your nose or sneezing as doing it violently may cause severe pain.
- Another important thing is to keep the extraction site clean, which may also hasten the healing time for tooth extraction.
- Try your best to keep the area clean to prevent infection and promote healing, but be careful not to directly brush the extraction site for 3 to 4 days after surgery.
- Avoid use of toothpaste. If you want to clean the area, you can wipe it with a clean, wet gauze pad or cloth.
- After 24 hours from the time of extraction, gently rinse the socket with warm, salt water four times a day to remove debris and promote healing. However, make sure you do not use a commercial mouthwash.
To help bring down swelling, hold an ice pack or a cold towel on the area of extraction from the outer side, between 12 to 24 hours after extraction. Hold it for 10-20 minutes, and then take a break for around 10-20 minutes before holding it once again. However, after 24 hours ice won't help to prevent swelling.
As far as diet is concerned eat soft foods such as pudding, Jell-O, yogurt, mashed potatoes, cream of wheat, clear soups, etc., during the first 24 to 48 hours. A patient is advised strongly to avoid smoking or using tobacco/alcohol products for 72 hours after the extraction.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.