Tooth extraction aftercare usually begins with the patient helping to facilitate the formation of a blood clot by applying pressure to the wound. She may need to apply an ice pack to her face to help control swelling. About 24 hours after the extraction, she should begin using a salt and water rinse to prevent infection. Any medications recommended or prescribed should be used, and if any problems develop, the patient should contact her dental care provider.
The steps involved in tooth extraction aftercare and the length of time that they are necessary will largely depend on the manner in which the tooth was removed and the difficulty of doing so. For example, following simple extractions a patient is generally instructed to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. When a tooth is removed by surgical extraction, it may be necessary for the patient to take ibuprofen in addition to prescription pain medication.
After the tooth is removed, a patient will likely be asked keep a piece of gauze over the wound and to apply pressure for approximately 30 minutes. It is important for this order to be respected because the blood needs to clot to slow the bleeding. In some cases, the bleeding may not be completely reduced in this time frame, so it may be necessary to replace the gauze every few hours. Once the blood clot forms, it should not be tampered with, and no effort should be made to remove it. The patient should also avoid spitting, smoking, and sucking through a straw because these actions can prevent the blood clot from forming or cause it be dislodged after it forms.
It is imperative for tooth extraction aftercare to include efforts to prevent the development of an infection. To do this, the patient needs to keep the site of the wound clean. It is generally recommended that this be done by making an oral rinse composed of warm water and salt. This step should be delayed for at least 24 hours after the tooth removal.
Many people experience swelling. This can be dealt with using an ice pack. It is recommended that the ice pack be applied to the outside of the face for intervals of about 10 minutes.
Sometimes, despite tooth extraction aftercare, problems may develop. Patients should not ignore pain or bleeding that continues for longer or develops after their dentists advised them that they would experience these issues. Individuals should also be alarmed by prolonged or renewed swelling, problems swallowing, or the development of a fever. All of these may be signs of a larger problem and should prompt the patient to contact her dental care provider.