Information after a tooth is extracted
The gum tissue will usually bleed for a short period of time after an extraction. Normally a cotton wool pad is placed on the gum and your dentist will normally ask you to bite down in order for the cotton wool pad to absorb the blood. In a few cases, the dentist may place a small stitch in the gum tissue. Provided you have had a local anaesthetic, you will normally be free to leave after around 15 minutes, but not before the bleeding has stopped.
If you have had a general anaesthetic or any other type of sedation during the procedure you will need longer to recover. You should not drive afterwards. You should ask a friend or relative to drive you, or arrange for a taxi to take you home. It is also not recommended to operate heavy machinery after having a general anaesthetic. There is normally a feeling of mild pain and discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off. Your dentist will usually recommend that you take over-the-counter pain relief to ease the symptoms.
Will I be able to eat and drink normally?
Your dentist will discuss eating and drinking with you after the procedure. Most dentists recommend that once the anaesthetic has worn off you should be able to eat and drink hot foods. It is not recommended to drink or eat very hot foods whilst the anaesthetic is still working as you may cause your mouth to burn. For 24 hours after the extraction you should try and stick to soft foods and avoid chewy and hard foods. After 24 hours your mouth should feel completely normal and you should be able to eat and drink normally.
The recovery process
Most people recover quickly after a tooth extraction. Dentists normally recommend that you stick to softer foods for the first few days after the procedure. It is also recommended that you avoid smoking and drinking alcohol during these first few days. It is important to keep the mouth as clean as possible after the extraction, thus preventing infection. You should brush your teeth and rinse your mouth on a regular basis. In the few cases where stitches have been used, you should return to your dentist after a certain period of time in order to have the stitches removed.
Are there any risks involved?
Tooth extractions are regarded as routine and are generally considered very safe procedures. Like all other procedures there is a small possibility of side effects and complications. Your dentist should explain this to you before you have the procedure. Any side-effects that do occur are generally very mild and most people find that they subside fairly quickly.
Examples of possible side-effects include:
- Tenderness in the gums
- Stiffness in the jaw
- Mild pain
- Light bleeding
Most patients find that taking ‘over the counter’ pain relief helps to ease these symptoms. Like all other medicines it is important to read the labels carefully. If you are unsure please ask your dentist, doctor or pharmacist for advice about which medication you should take.
Complications are more severe than side-effects. They can be potentially very serious and can occur during or after the procedure. The risk of complications during and after tooth extraction is extremely low. However, possible complications include:
- Increased temperature
- Extreme swelling
- Severe pain
- Heavy and persistent bleeding
Another possible complication is “dry socket”. This occurs when the wound in the socket does not heal and the blood does not clot properly or as effectively as it should. This can be extremely painful and you should see your dentist as quickly as possible. Your dentist should wash and dress the wound. They may even prescribe antibiotics.
If you find yourself suffering from any of the above complications, speed is of the essence so do contact your dentist asap.