Your Guide to Tooth Extraction Aftercare

Whether you’ve had one tooth extracted or all of your wisdom teeth removed, your recovery will be supported through a combination of rest, pain medication, diet, hygiene and avoiding certain activities for a few days. Your doctor will explain the keys to recovery before the procedure and send you home with specific instructions after your procedure. Following those instructions is important for proper healing and your comfort in the following days.

Every patient’s mouth heals a bit differently, depending on the location and extent of the extraction(s). To learn more about proper aftercare for the various tooth extraction procedures, contact Hill Country Oral Surgery in Austin, TX, at (512) 327-7233.

Time off after tooth extraction

Patients might need to have a single tooth removed for a number of reasons, including decay or infection, damage from trauma, crowded teeth, or gum disease. While there may be some soreness, most patients can usually return to work or normal activity the next day. However, if at all possible, give yourself that next day to rest and recover.

If you need to have multiple teeth removed or your teeth are impacted, you should plan to rest for two to three days and avoid physical activity for five days.

Not all patients will require prescription pain medication. Some chose to use only over-the-counter options. If you chose to take prescription pain medication, it should already be working by the time the anesthesia wears off in two to eight hours.

Aftercare for wisdom teeth extractions

Because it is a more extensive surgery, there are several factors that will play into successful recovery from a wisdom tooth extraction.

Most people will recover in three to four days. If your teeth were impacted or came in at an awkward angle, it could take a week for recovery. The wounds won’t be completely healed for a few months, so it’s important to follow instructions to avoid an infection.

Wisdom teeth extraction FAQs

What should I expect after I get home?

Many surgeons insist that you have someone drive you home, or they will call a cab for you. Your mouth will be numb, but you can eat shortly after surgery, starting with clear liquids and soft foods. Suggested drinks include water, juice, milk and sports drinks. Do not drink carbonated beverages for at least four days. Doctors recommend food items that won’t require much chewing, such as soup, pasta, and mashed potatoes. Stock up before your surgery so you’re not scrambling afterward. Do not use a straw for at least the first week, because sucking could dislodge a blood clot that is an important part of the healing process. Avoid hard foods that could become stuck in the sockets.

What about ice and meds?

If you require prescription pain medication, you’ll be given a prescription and instructions before you’re sent home. You can begin taking them after you’ve had some food. You should also begin using an ice pack on your face. A sponge that has been soaked in water and then frozen in a plastic bag makes a great ice pack. 

Your doctor will let you know the best protocol for icing as you heal, including for how long and how often you should apply your ice pack. In general, you should be careful not to keep the ice on your face for more than 15 minutes at a time. 

How long do I leave in the gauze?

Keep it in place with pressure as long as the site is oozing or bleeding. After about an hour, remove the gauze and evaluate the site. If you need fresh gauze, dampen it before applying it. Do not replace gauze if you are not bleeding because it could dislodge the clot.

Do you have hygiene tips?

After the bleeding stops, you can rinse your mouth with salt water after eating and drinking. Put one teaspoon of salt into an eight-ounce glass of warm water. You can brush your teeth, but be sure to avoid the extraction areas.

How much rest is necessary?

Sleep with your head elevated. Try to get as much rest as possible for the first few days after surgery and avoid strenuous activities for five days. You’ll experience minor soreness for approximately a week, but you’ll slowly be able to return to your normal daily activities. The recovery time could be longer if the extraction was more complicated.

Should I be concerned about dry socket?

Dry socket occurs when the blood clot that should have formed after the surgery is either accidentally dislodged or never formed. The risk remains until you’re fully healed, which usually takes seven to 10 days.

If there are any problems or difficulties, or even if you just have questions about how to best care for your mouth as it heals, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be more than happy to give you the advice to address the issue and alleviate your concerns.

Contact Hill Country Oral Surgery today at (512) 327-7233 for further information about aftercare for extractions.