Dental extractions, although uncomfortable, are sometimes necessary. If your tooth is broken, cracked or decayed to the extent that it can't be repaired, or if periodontal disease has damaged supporting bone to the extent that the tooth is loosened, you and your dentist may decide extraction is the best option. Animated-teeth.com notes that wisdom teeth, especially those that are impacted--or have not erupted from the gum--are also candidates for extraction. Proper aftercare can help reduce pain and swelling and promote healing after an extraction.
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A simple extraction is performed on a tooth that is visible in the mouth; this can be done by a general dentist. Usually this procedure is performed under local anesthetic, with the area being numbed by an injection of lidocaine. Colgate World of Care notes that the discomfort of simple extractions can usually be alleviated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
A surgical extraction is performed by an oral surgeon, who often has to cut an incision in the gum to reach the tooth. Local anesthesia or conscious sedation may be used; Colgate World of Care notes that with the latter, your dentist may use nitrous oxide or IV sedation. Surgical extractions can cause more pain than simple extractions; the amount depends on the difficulty of the procedure. You may receive prescription pain medication for a few days after the procedure, and then switch to NSAID drugs for any lingering discomfort.
To reduce pain after the procedure, Dental Fear Center advises taking a painkilling drug as the numbness from the procedure begins to wear off; don't wait for pain to set in. The website says not to take aspirin, however; this can increase bleeding. You can place ice packs on your face to reduce swelling and jaw pain, using the pack for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off until bedtime. If your jaw is still sore after 36 hours, you can switch to moist heat. After 24 hours, you should carefully rinse four times a day with warm salt water to keep the area clean.
Things to Avoid
Don't disturb the blood clot by poking it with your tongue or touching it with your fingers; you also must avoid spitting, smoking or sucking on a straw on the day of the extraction. You should also avoid bending, heavy lifting and exercise; WorlDental Dental Health Magazine says this can increase bleeding. To protect the extraction site, don't use a toothbrush near the area for three to four days; instead wipe the area with a clean, wet gauze pad. Dental Fear Center states that you shouldn't eat spicy foods, or drink hot drinks or sodas. Milkshakes, yogurt and puddings can soothe sore gums, and are a better option.
Dry socket is a painful complication that can occur if the blood clot breaks down prematurely, exposing the underlying bone to air and food; smokers and women taking birth control pills are more susceptible. Call your dentist if you experience increasing pain. Colgate World of Care says you should also call your dentist if you continue to bleed heavily 24 hours after the surgery, if gum swelling worsens, if you have fever or chills or if reddening occurs.