So you've lost a tooth, either by accident (forget to put in your mouth guard before kickboxing class?) or by design. If by accident, call your dentist for help with the possible saving of your tooth and more immediate tooth extraction care instructions.
If by design, hopefully you engaged the services of a qualified dentist and not some guy wielding a wrench in a semi-tractor trailer. But what do you do now for tooth extraction recovery?
This is where the qualified dentist comes in: He or she will give you specific instructions to avoid ugly characters like unnecessary tooth extraction pain, tooth extraction infection and tooth extraction non-professionals who don't even employ anesthesia, much less an aftercare strategy.
If you're a good student who wonders what to expect before getting some teeth pulled, or if you've already had teeth pulled and forgot about tooth extraction aftercare, here are some pointers:
Control the bleeding. Dentists place a moist pad of gauze over the extraction site and ask you to bite down for 45 to 60 minutes. If after an hour you still experience bleeding, tooth extraction care may mean biting down on a wet tea bag.
Black tea contains tannic acid which helps form blood clots. Clots are essential for tooth extraction recovery. Repeat as necessary for small amounts of blood. Gushing gums require a dentist.
Dodge dry socket. Those previously mentioned blood clots are an integral part of tooth extraction aftercare. They block holes in your gums from food and germs, preventing tooth extraction infection. Make sure you don't accidentally pull those plugs!
Don't suck in tooth extraction care. That means don't use straws to drink, don't spit and don't smoke! Smoking carries double risk because it incorporates a sucking action and delivers chemicals directly to the extraction site.
Foodies, beware! Some dentists recommend a liquid diet for the first 24 hours. When moving to solids during the tooth extraction recovery phase, chew on the opposite side of the extraction sites. Also, avoid blood-thinning agents like alcohol and certain medications. Consult your dentist and a doctor about stopping meds for tooth extraction aftercare.
Fulfill oral hygiene obligations. You still want to keep your mouth clean to prevent tooth extraction infection, but relax the usual dental hygiene routine. Keep your brush away from the holes where your teeth used to reside, and swish very, very gently.
Recognize abnormal pain. If you have a tooth pulled, expect a certain amount of tooth extraction pain. Your dentist might recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribe more potent pharmaceuticals.
Tooth extraction pain should recede a bit over the course of a day. If it intensifies after 24 hours, takes on a throbbing quality and/or radiates to the eye or ear, you may have dry socket. Please see your dentist.
Sequester sequestrum. Sequestrum are bone fragments that may pop out of those holes in your gums during your tooth extraction recovery. You might remove some yourself, or you might enlist professional help.
Rarely, some deeply buried sequestrum may cause osteomyelitis, characterized by fever, tenderness and swelling. Tooth extraction aftercare requires x-rays and professional dental attention for osteomyelitis.
Remember the stitches. They dissolve, if your dentist uses the absorbable variety. If other stitches were used, you'll have to get back in the chair for removal.
Quell the swells. Most people in tooth extraction recovery experience a certain amount of swelling around the extraction area. You can reduce swelling with cold cloths or ice packs. Apply cold for 10 minutes every half hour. You may need to keep this up for 24 hours. Or you might want to capitalize on your chipmunk cheeks to gain sympathy and call in some favors (not that anyone here would ever do that).
If swelling extends to your lymph nodes and neck area during tooth extraction aftercare, this may be a symptom of dry socket. Forget gaining sympathy points. Call your dentist if this happens, as you may have a dry socket.