Post-tooth-extraction pain can be managed with proper care from oral surgeon Dr. Wiliam Campbell.

If you’ve scheduled a tooth extraction, you’re likely feeling a mix of anticipation and apprehension about the procedure itself and the recovery period after. While some discomfort is to be expected, understanding the typical healing process can help you feel prepared and promote a smooth recovery.

The Hours After Tooth Extraction

Immediately after the extraction, your mouth will likely feel numb from the anesthetic used during the procedure. As this wears off over the next few hours, you’ll start to feel some pain and tenderness in the extraction area. Your treatment provider will leave you with specific post-op instructions to manage pain and promote healing, like:

  • Bite on a gauze pad to allow a blood clot to form in the empty socket
  • Use over-the-counter pain medication as needed
  • Apply an ice pack to the area to reduce swelling
  • Stick to soft, cool foods and avoid hot liquids
  • Don’t drink through a straw or rinse vigorously, which can dislodge the clot
  • Bleeding and oozing of blood-tinged saliva is normal within the first 24 hours as the clot forms. Avoid any activity that could loosen the clot, like smoking, spitting, or rinsing vigorously.

Days 1-3: Managing Pain and Swelling

For the first few days, you can expect varying levels of pain, swelling, bruising, and discomfort with chewing as your body initiates its natural healing process. Use cold compresses and OTC pain relievers to ease symptoms during this initial phase. Getting plenty of rest can also aid recovery.

Once 24 hours have passed, you can begin gentle salt water rinses to keep the area clean. Make the rinse by dissolving 1 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. Gently swish and migrate the solution over the extraction site before spitting it out. Avoid vigorous swishing, as this could dislodge the clot.

Stick to soft foods like yogurt, pudding, smoothies, and avoid anything crunchy, chewy, or hot in temperature until the area starts to feel better. If chewing hurts too much, opt for nutrient-rich liquids and shakes to ensure you’re getting adequate nutrition while the site heals.

Days 4-7: Transitioning to Normalcy

Most patients start to feel noticeably better around 3-5 days post-extraction as swelling subsides and the discomfort lessens. The empty socket should be healing nicely with new tissue forming over the clot. You can resume normal oral hygiene like brushing and flossing by now, taking care around the extraction site.

By the end of the first week, you should be able to incorporate most regular foods back into your diet, so long as you can tolerate chewing on that area of your mouth without too much pain or irritation. Avoid very hot temperatures, crunchy foods, and anything that may scratch and pull at the healing tissue.

The healing process will continue for several more weeks, but the most intense pain and sensitivity will be behind you after that first week as long as you don’t experience any complications.

Watch for Tooth Extraction Complications

While a certain amount of pain and swelling is to be expected initially, excessive or worsening symptoms a few days after the procedure could be a sign of dry socket or infection. Contact your provider promptly if you experience:

  • Severe, unrelenting pain not relieved by medication
  • Worsening pain a few days later instead of improvement
  • Excessive, persistent bleeding or oozing beyond 24 hours
  • Foul taste or odor from the extraction site
  • Fever, chills, nausea, or other signs of infection.

Dry socket is a painful condition that occurs when the protective blood clot is dislodged from the socket before it has a chance to stabilize. This leaves the bone and nerves exposed, causing intense throbbing and radiating pain. Taking proper precautions like avoiding straws in the first 24 hours can help prevent dry socket.

Most tooth extractions heal uneventfully, but being an attentive patient and following all post-op instructions from your oral care provider is key to preventing issues. Be patient yet watchful during recovery, and your mouth should be on the mend before you know it.

If you need a tooth extracted, schedule an appointment with Dr. William Campbell, the leading Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in the Columbus, GA, metro area. A member of our Campbell Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center staff will be happy to set up your visit and address any questions or concerns you may have. Call us at 706-324-6106 or reach us through the contact form on our website. We look forward to assisting you with your oral health care.