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Important Aftercare Instructions Following a Tooth Extraction

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Getting a tooth extracted is a routine procedure, though it can be a scary concept. By being fully prepared and knowing what to expect, you can get through the procedure and recovery process more smoothly. Here are some aftercare instructions to follow after having a tooth extracted.

Keep the Area Clean

While you want to be gentle near the extraction site, you also need to keep it clean. Depending on the tooth that was removed, you may be given a syringe to clean food debris out of the area. Even when you eat carefully and don't chew on that side, a lot of debris can travel to the extraction site and get caught inside. You need to keep the debris from filling up the empty hole in your gums by using the syringe. However, some dentists simply ask you to use a mouth rinse after eating or drinking to keep the area clean. Also, make sure you keep brushing and flossing your other teeth so you reduce the risk for infection and keep the area free of bacteria.

Watch What You Eat

Follow your dentist's instructions when it comes to what you can eat or drink following the extraction. It will likely still be bleeding shortly after the procedure, so you might want to hold off on anything but water or broth for the first few hours following the procedure. If your dentist recommends only a liquid diet for a day or so, follow their instructions. Don't assume you can chew food just because it is starting to feel better. The last thing you want to do is end up back in the dentist's office because food got lodged in the extraction site. Start slow with soft foods after the liquid diet, such as mashed potatoes and oatmeal.

Tend to the Extraction Site

When you return home from the procedure, you will likely need to change the gauze placed over the extraction site. There will be some bleeding following the procedure, and you want to keep the area clean. Remove the gauze, clean it as directed by your dentist, then put clean gauze over it. Put the gauze on the site and press down gently, leaving it there as long as the dentist recommends. You may replace it regularly for the first day until the removed gauze doesn't have any blood on it.

Avoid Using a Straw or Smoking

It is very important that you heed your oral surgeon's warnings about any sucking motion. Using a straw while drinking causes a sucking motion that could dislodge the blood clot. This clot forms after the extraction and protects the area from bacteria. If it is dislodged prematurely, you could experience a condition called dry socket, which is extremely painful. If this happens, go to the hospital right away. You should also avoid smoking cigarettes for the same reason.