Tooth extractions are so common they are practically a rite of passage. A whopping 85% of the general population undergoes wisdom teeth extractions in preparation for orthodontic treatment or because their teeth are impacted. Other patients need to have an extraction because their tooth is damaged beyond repair due to decay, trauma, or gum disease.
But just because something is so common doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously. A tooth extraction is typically part of an overall treatment strategy to remove harmful bacteria and restore not only your oral health, but also your overall health.
In this blog, Dr. Meriem Boukadoum at 54th Street Dental provides some important tips to protect your oral health after an extraction.
If you ever had a tooth extracted, you are all too familiar with the fact that most of the post-op instructions focus on avoiding dry socket. Okay, but what does that mean and why should you care?
It’s all about promoting healing and recovery.
Once the tooth is extracted you have this gaping hole and completely exposed nerves and bone. In order for your mouth to heal, you need to progress from a gaping hole to new bone growth and soft tissue, and the blood clot is the first step to making that happen. It effectively seals off the area from food debris, the air, and anything that can threaten the healing process.
Recovery from an extraction can take a few days, so plan on taking it easy — especially during the first 24 hours.
Think gentle. Avoid things such as smoking, spitting, drinking through a straw, or rinsing vigorously, as these all result in suction or sucking movements of the mouth, which may loosen the blood clot. Similarly, be careful while cleaning your teeth, especially those teeth neighboring the extraction.
Again, the ultimate goal is to avoid dry socket, which triggers the dislodging or dissolving of the blood clot before your body has the opportunity to start healing. Not only does dry socket halt healing, but also it’s exceptionally painful.
You may be asking, how painful is dry socket? Exposing bone or nerves to food debris, crisp air, and more can result in a sharp pain similar to tooth sensitivity.
After an extraction isn’t a good time to dive into a steak dinner. You’re probably not going to feel up to it, but more importantly you want to stick to something simpler that doesn’t involve chewing or biting so you can increase the likelihood of that blood clot forming.
Just say no to carbonated drinks or sticky or harder foods that leave behind debris, like popcorn or peanuts. Think non-spicy, soft comfort foods or clear liquids. Pudding, Jell-O, yogurt, apple sauce, pureed vegetables, eggs, and cooked cereals are ideal. You can even treat yourself to a smoothie, but ditch the straw and use a spoon.
For some of us, the idea of taking it easy doesn’t register, but one of the best things you can do to let the healing begin is to take a beat and just relax a little.
If you exercise regularly, take at least a couple days off and don’t resume any rigorous exercise for several days. Napping and resting are definitely in order, but remember to use pillows to prop your head up when sleeping or napping to promote healing.
If you are undergoing an extraction and want to learn more about promoting healing and oral health after your procedure, contact 54th Street Dental to schedule a consultation. To reach us, use the online booking tool or call our office in the Midtown West neighborhood of New York City at 212-333-3200.