Here at Mowry Dental, we want our patients to experience comfortable, healthy smiles both in and out of our office. If our dentists perform a surgical procedure to improve your smile, we encourage you to review the following surgical instructions to know how you can care for your smile after leaving our office. Drs. Thi Hoang and Thanh Pham will also discuss any specific instructions with you during your appointment. If you have any questions about our surgical instructions, or about our dental services in Fremont, California, we invite you to contact us at 510.794.7900.

After Tooth Extractions

Dr. Thi Hoang may recommend a tooth extraction for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include extreme tooth decay, issues with hindering orthodontic treatment, impacted wisdom teeth, severe dental infections. A tooth extraction can be a complex dental procedure, but with these surgical instructions, you can heal properly and reduce pain and your risk of infection.

Care immediately following surgery:
Your dentist will place a gauze over the surgical site and have you bite down on it for about 15 minutes; this provides sufficient pressure to stop the bleeding. You can replace the gauze, but try to keep pressure on the surgical site for intervals of about 45-60 minutes each time. If the gauze dries out, you can always wet it.

It is best to keep your head elevated, as this will help your blood clot. Reducing physical activity can also promote proper healing.

Once 48 hours have passed, start rinsing your mouth every 1 to 2 hours with warm salt water. You can rinse with mouthwash, but use an alcohol-free rinse to avoid irritation.

Be careful and gentle when brushing the teeth around the surgical area. Also, avoid touching the surgical site and stitches.

Place ice packs on the facial areas surrounding the extraction to reduce swelling.

If you are prescribed medication, be sure to take it as directed. If you experience a reaction, such as itching or swelling, call us immediately or go to the nearest emergency care center.

For a few days after surgery, try eating foods that are soft and high in protein. You can continue this diet, upwards of a week, depending on how you feel.

Do not drink through a straw for at least 5-7 days after your surgery. This helps prevent dry socket, which is a very painful condition where the clot that formed over the site becomes dislodged. Even though you cannot drink through a straw, stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids.

Avoid smoking or tobacco use for 3 to 4 days after surgery, as it can make you more likely to get dry socket or an infection.

In most cases, it will take about 3-14 days for the sutures to dissolve or come out. If your stitches are non-resorbable, you will need to revisit the dentist to have them removed. Over time, the empty tooth socket will fill in with bone and smooth over the surrounding tissue.

Possible Complications After A Tooth Extraction

Bleeding –Bleeding is expected and completely normal after a tooth extraction. You will experience a pinkish saliva and slight oozing around the extraction site for about the first 36 hours. You can control excessive bleeding by placing a gauze pad over the site and gently biting down on the area for about 30 minutes. You may also use a moistened tea bag as an alternative to gauze; the tannic acid in the tea promotes contractions within the blood vessels, promoting clotting. Keep in mind that any physical activity or raised tempers can increase blood flow to the head and slow down the clotting process. Avoid these things as much as possible, and recline your head propped up on a couple of pillows. If you continue to experience severe bleeding after 48 hours, call our office.

Bone sequestra (dead tooth fragments) – Surgery may leave some patients with what is called a bone sequestra, or dead tooth fragments. If any of these fragments are left in your surgical site, they will slowly work themselves up to the surface of your gums. This process can cause quite a bit of pain until the fragments are removed. If you notice any bone fragments poking through the gums around your surgical site, contact our office right away to have them removed.

Dry socket – Experiencing dry socked is possible after an extraction, but you can minimize your risk of causing dry socket by following proper post-surgical instructions. A common sign of dry socket is a throbbing, severe pain that goes up the jaw and side of the head towards the ear. Dry socket is when a blood clot becomes irritated and dislodged before the healing process is complete. This can happen when debris or food get stuck in the socket. Tobacco use and oral contraceptives can also increase your chances of a dry socket. If you experience dry socket or any of its symptoms, contact our office immediately.

Lightheadedness – For many surgeries, doctors ask that you avoid eating or drinking before your procedure. Because fasting lowers your blood sugar, some people may experience lightheadedness. To help, stand up slowly when you move from a sitting or lying position, at least until your body has had the chance to catch up and process some sugars. For some faster energy, try eating something soft and sugary, such as a donut, to help raise your blood sugar. You can also try reducing your head elevation by staying in a relaxed position.

Numbness – Many patients experience some degree of numbness after surgery. Depending on the type of anesthesia used, numbness could last up to 10 or 12 hours.

Swelling – Swelling after surgery is normal and expected, but in most cases, it dissipates almost entirely within the first 10 days after surgery. To reduce the amount of swelling, apply an ice pack to the affected facial areas immediately after your surgery. Keep the ice pack on for 15 minutes, and take a 15-minute break. Repeat this pattern for the first 36 hours. After that, switch out the ice packs for moist heat, such as a warm towel or cloth.

Trismus (difficulty opening and closing mouth) – Because a tooth extraction requires you to keep your mouth open for quite some time, your jaw may be sore for a few days after surgery. In most cases, this soreness does not last more than 5 days. You may experience some difficulty with chewing or swallowing, but your jaw mobility will return to normal after a few days.

If you have any concerns or questions about how to care for your mouth after a tooth extraction, we invite you to contact our office. Our dentists and friendly team are always happy to help because we want you to have a speedy, stress-free recovery. If you experience any issues during your healing process, please contact our practice right away so that our dentists can care for you.