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How to Care for Dental Extractions

Lady and her dentist
Trauma, decay, crowding, and infection are common reasons for dental extractions. Even though a root canal is often preferable over removing the entire tooth, a root canal isn’t always possible. If your dentist recommends a tooth extraction, take a look at what you need to know about pre- and post-procedure care so you can be prepared.

Pre-Procedure Care

First, acquaint yourself with how the procedure will work. Most tooth removal procedures don't require general anesthesia, which means you'll be awake during the extraction. But that doesn't mean you'll feel the procedure itself. The dentist will give you a local anesthetic via a needle to numb the entire area.

Even though a simple extraction won't require you to sleep through the procedure, a complex surgery, such as an impacted wisdom tooth removal, may. Along with complex extractions, some patients elect sedation as part of the procedure. This can help nervous patients to get through the extraction without added anxiety.

If you are having general anesthesia or any type of sedation (such as twilight anesthesia), you'll need to stop eating and drinking at least six hours prior to the procedure. Your dentist will give you an exact time to start fasting.

Along with abstaining from eating and drinking, you may need to stop taking some medications. Your dentist will review the prescription and over-the-counter medications that you take, as well as any vitamins and supplements before the procedure. Some medications can cause excessive bleeding. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and blood thinners. The dentist may ask you to stop taking these medications one to two weeks prior to the extraction appointment.

Depending on the medication, you may or may not be able to take it. Never stop taking a medication unless the dentist or another medical professional specifically tells you to.

Day of Care

On the day of your procedure, follow your dentist's instructions precisely. Dress in comfortable clothing for the extraction. Avoid footwear that could cause you to stumble or trip following the procedure — especially if you're having general or twilight anesthesia.

You may feel some degree of anxiety on the procedure day. Bring your tablet, a book, or some other distraction with you to the dentist's office.

Post-Procedure Care

Always follow your dentist's instructions. Every patient is an individual. The specific post-procedure directions that the dentist gives aren't generic. They're based on your procedure, your health status, and your needs. Some patients are able to return to work (or their normal daily activities) the same day, while others may need more time for the discomfort and post-extraction symptoms to go away.

In general, most patients need to take it easy on the day of the procedure and for the next few days. Over-exertion can cause bleeding, making it challenging for your extraction area to heal. You may also need to keep your head elevated following the procedure. Use pillows to prop your head up when you sleep.

If you have pain, the dentist may prescribe a medication to reduce your discomfort. Avoid aspirin or other medications that can increase bleeding. Your dentist will recommend an over-the-counter medication (and the amount to take) if you don't require something that's prescription strength. An ice pack applied to the outside of the mouth (on your cheek or nearby part of the face) can help to soothe pain and reduce possible swelling.

A clean mouth is important to the healing process. Carefully brush your teeth, avoiding the extraction area.

Do you need a tooth extraction or great dentist to help keep your mouth healthy? Contact Greenville Center for Sedation Dentistry for all of your dental needs.