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After Removal of Teeth

The removal of teeth is a surgical procedure. Post-operative care is very important. Unnecessary pain and the complications of infection and swelling can be minimized if proper care is followed.

A small amount of bleeding is to be expected following the operation. Place a gauze pad directly over the bleeding socket and apply biting pressure for 1 hour. The gauze pads can be changed as needed. If bleeding continues, wrap a wet tea bag in a piece of gauze and apply pressure for one hour. Avoid hot liquids, exercise, and elevate the head. If bleeding persists, call our office for additional instructions. If you had multiple teeth removed and the insertion of an immediate denture, do not remove the denture unless the bleeding is severe. Expect some oozing of blood around the sides of the denture.

Use ice packs (externally) on the same side of the face as the operated area. Apply ice for the first 36 hours only. Apply ice continuously 20 minutes on 20 minutes off while you are awake.

Unless you have received different instructions from the doctor, take Tylenol or 2-3 tablets of ibuprofen 200mg (Advil, Motrin IB) every 4-6 hours. If you find this is not controlling your pain well enough, you may take the prescription pain killer in addition. Remember that narcotic pain medications can slow reflexes and make you groggy, making driving and operating machinery dangerous. If pain or swelling increase after the first 4-5 days, call our office. If you were prescribed an antibiotic, take this until gone regardless of your symptoms.

Drink plenty of fluids. If many teeth have been extracted, the blood lost at this time needs to be replaced. Drink at least six glasses of liquid the first day.

Do not rinse your mouth for the first post-operative day, or while there is bleeding. Vigorous mouth rinsing, use of straws, or touching the wound area following surgery should be avoided. This may cause bleeding by causing the blood clot that has formed to become dislodged. The unprotected socket will collect debris and become painful. This is what is known as a ‘dry socket’, and usually requires additional care. You may begin gentle rinsing with water, saltwater, or mouthwashes 24 hours after surgery. Saltwater rinses can be made by mixing ½ teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water. If you had a denture placed, and after you have seen your dentist for post op care, you may take the denture out 3 or 4 times per day to rinse out your mouth.

Restrict your diet to liquids and soft foods, which are comfortable for you to eat. As the wounds heal, you will be able to advance your diet.

The removal of many teeth at one time is quite different than the extraction of one or two teeth. Because the bone may have been shaped and smoothed prior to the insertion of a denture, the following conditions may occur, all of which are considered normal:

  • The area operated on will swell reaching a maximum in two days. Swelling and discoloration around the eye may occur. The application of a moist warm towel will help eliminate the discoloration quicker. The towel should be applied continuously for as long as tolerable beginning 36 hours after surgery (remember ice packs are used for the first 36 hours only).
  • A sore throat may develop. The muscles of the throat are near the extraction sites. Swelling into the throat muscles can cause pain. This is normal and should subside in 2-3 days.
    If the corners of the mouth are stretched, they may dry out and crack. Your lips should be kept moist with an ointment like Vaseline. There may be a slight elevation of temperature for 24-48 hours. If temperature continues, notify our office.
  • If immediate dentures have been inserted, sore spots may develop. In most cases, your dentist will see you within 24-48 hours after surgery and make the necessary adjustments to relieve those sore spots. Failure to do so may result in severe denture sores, which may prolong the healing process.

The Dry Socket
A dry socket is when the blood clot gets dislodged or dissolves from the tooth socket. Food and debris could then collect in the socket. Increase in pain and odor at the surgical site occur in the next 2 or 3 days. A dry socket is not an infection, but will require treatment. Dry sockets occur most often in the lower jaw with back tooth removal. Women taking birth control pills and smokers are more prone to dry sockets. Call the office if you believe you are developing a dry socket. The best defense against a dry socket is proper post-op care