What Are the Treatments for Pain After Tooth Extraction?

A cross section of a tooth.
Ice packs may be used to treat swelling after a tooth extraction.
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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 18 April 2014
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In most cases, pain after tooth extraction generally does not last more than a day or two. After oral surgery, however, pain after tooth extraction can be controlled by medication, which is typically prescribed by the dentist or oral surgeon. Post-surgical pain can also be controlled by applications of ice.

After tooth extraction or oral surgery, the dentist or surgeon will provide the patient with post-operative care instructions. This typically consists of a checklist or step-by-step instructions for what the patient needs to do to help the healing process and alleviate pain. These instructions generally will outline care for the first 24 hours after a tooth extraction and include instructions for pain management. There may be a separate or attached sheet of instructions for special care that is needed for the next few days following surgery.

It is important when managing pain after tooth extraction to be careful not to re-injury the surgery site. This means keeping fingers and the tongue from probing the area and disturbing any sutures that may be in place. Sutures may dissolve in a few days or the dentist may remove them.

If the dentist deems it necessary, he may prescribe a pain medication. It's important to follow the medication directions exactly. This also means never over using or taking more than prescribed. If there are risks from side effects, these should be noted. Cool drinks and frozen ice pops may provide some soothing relief from pain after tooth extraction as well.


During the first 12 to 24 hours, the dentist may recommend refraining from eating solid foods. This may help control pain after tooth extraction. Avoiding crunchy foods or anything that may scratch the gum near the incision site is important. If there are instructions to use ice, these also should be followed. Ice packs may reduce swelling and, in turn, help control the post-operative pain.

If the patient still has minor discomfort or pain that lasts more than a day after tooth extraction, warm compresses may bring some relief. A washcloth dipped in warm water and placed over the jaw or cheek may help alleviate pain. The cloth should be warm, but not extremely hot.

If a blood clot has not initially formed after the tooth extraction, there is a risk for developing what is known as a dry socket. This complication may cause significant pain and require further treatment. If the patient experiences a throbbing type of pain in the area several days after the oral surgery, the dentist may check for a dry socket. He may prescribe a pain medication and place a type of medicated solution directly into the area. This typically will aid in healing and relieve some of the pain.


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