What to do, what to avoid:
The key to trouble-free healing after tooth extraction is the formation of a good clot. Outside the mouth it would dry to a scab and allow the growth of tiny blood vessels to repair the tissues underneath.
Immediate first aid or post-op care
To slow and stop the bleeding, apply compression by biting down on a gauze pad for 30 minutes. At this stage you may notice pink-stained saliva, which is just ‘ooze’ and normal for the first day. However, if there is still definite bleeding, bite down on another gauze for 30 minutes more. This can be repeated once more if necessary. (The blood flow has to almost stop for clotting to occur)
If there is still definite bleeding after this third gauze pack, contact the surgery immediately. (After hours, our answerphone will give a mobile number to call)
Ice packs, a great anti-inflammatory
Ice packs provide pain relief and minimise swelling when applied in the first 48 hours post extraction just as with other soft tissue injuries. Place an ice pack – or bag of frozen veg! – inside a few layers of clean tea towel and hold to the outside of the cheek. Numbness occurs under the pack in about 10 minutes, keep it in place for a further 10 minutes. Reapply several times for pain relief and to keep facial swelling to a minimum.
Protecting the clot
Once established, the clot needs to remain in place – much like a scab.
*avoid rinsing and spitting for the next 24 hours as this action can disturb/dislodge the clot
*don’t smoke for at least 48 hours (this is really important for healing and to minimise the risk of infection. Tobacco interferes with the growth of tiny blood vessels necessary for healing www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/tobaccodw.html and is believed to suppress the immune response by affecting the function of neutrophils, the primary defense against infection. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19075440
* avoid alcohol and vigorous exercise for 24 hours, as both temporarily ‘thin the blood’ which may lead to further bleeding
Recommendations for post-op care
*After 24 hours, rinsing with warm salt water mouth washes helps cleanse and promote healing. A mild salty solution is gentle on healing tissues as its concentration matches that of the body’s tissues. It also helps prevent infection by altering the pH in the mouth – making it more alkaline – and therefore a difficult environment for bacteria.
It’s great to wash and rinse like this 2-3 times/day for up to 7 days)
*Eat and drink as normal – but allow hot foods and drink to cool to luke-warm before taking. Heat increases blood flow and therefore the risk of bleeding, and healing tissues can be more sensitive to extremes in temperature.
*Clean your teeth as normal – avoiding the clot.
If pain increases
In the event that pain increases over the next 3 days, it is most likely that a ‘dry socket’ has occurred. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dry-socket Known as alveolar osteitis, it is a condition which occurs when a clot fails to form or is dislodged. Please call the surgery and we will arrange to place a special dressing and advise on pain relief or antibiotics.