Guidelines For Post-Extraction Oral Care

Post-Extraction Oral Care


When you have a tooth extraction, the healing process may not always be linear and straightforward. For the best oral health, your extraction site must remain clean with minimal disruption. What do you need to know about caring for your post-extraction site? 

For guidance on managing a tooth extraction, read this guide to learn everything from why you may need to have a tooth removed to how to manage without pain medications. Let’s take a closer look at managing your extraction site! 

Importance of Post-Extraction Oral Care

Taking care of your tooth extraction site is crucial to help you manage severe pain and eliminate the risk of complications like dry sockets and infections. The healing process depends on your care and maintenance of the swelling, blood clots, and more. 

Understanding Tooth Extraction 

Before we dive into how to care for your surgical site, here are a few reasons why your tooth might need to be removed in the first place and what you can expect: 

Reasons for Tooth Extraction

Tooth extraction is never the first choice for your dentist or oral surgeon. Instead, it’s a last resort when the tooth has moved beyond the point where it can be repaired via fillings or crowns. 

Some reasons why oral surgery might be the right move include: 

  • Advanced dental cavities 
  • Fractured teeth
  • Impacted or crowded teeth
  • Dental injuries from sports or accidents
  • Advanced gum disease

Extraction Procedure Overview

Tooth extraction is a routine procedure for most oral surgeons and dentists. They start by giving local anaesthesia to make you comfortable, ensuring that you will be painfree throughout the procedure. The goal is to keep you as relaxed as possible. 

From here, your dentist will do the hard work of loosening the tooth from the gums before pulling it. Sometimes, an incision is necessary to remove the tooth from its socket completely. 

Finally the socket may be curretted (soft tissue and infection scraped from the bony walls) and rinsed with saline.

Immediate Post-Extraction Care

The most important aftercare comes directly after the extraction takes place. The following guidelines will help you get through the early days of your recovery: 

Pain Management

Perhaps the most critical aspect of your post-extraction care is pain management. Dentists will often prescribe pain medication for the first hours or days following your tooth extraction. 

If you choose not to take the prescription medications, you can take Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) for pain and swelling. You should also finish any courses of antibiotics prescribed by your dental professional. 

Bleeding Control

Getting bleeding under control is one of the most essential tooth extraction aftercare endeavours to promote healing. Biting down on wet gauze pads is a great way to minimize bleeding and encourage clotting. Bite firmly for the best results, lasting for about a half-hour at a time. 

Specific actions can worsen your bleeding and make blood clotting much harder. For example, exercising or  smoking can affect clotting and delay healing. 

Initial Oral Hygiene Steps

While you want to hold off on brushing the surgical site for a few days, you can rinse your mouth early on. Using warm clean water, you can gently rinse to clean the extraction site within about 48 hours of the tooth extraction. Avoid rinsing too soon because it can impact the formation of a blood clot—an essential part of the healing process. 

Long-Term Oral Care After Extraction

Even after the site has healed, there are a few things you need to do to prevent future extractions: 

Cleaning and Brushing Techniques

Post-operative care means that you must take your oral health seriously. Cleaning and brushing are essential to prevent more tooth extractions in the future. You should always brush your teeth with firm pressure (once your surgical site has healed). 

Make sure to brush all sides of the tooth, including the front, back, and chewing surfaces. 

You should also ensure there are no food particles between the teeth by using dental floss. Combined with a solid brushing routine, this can prevent further issues with caries and tooth decay that lead to increased extractions. 

Dietary Considerations

Once you have a tooth removed, you may want to eat soft foods for a little while. Foods that have small parts, like seeds, can become lodged in the healing extraction site and cause long-term healing issues. Steer clear of hard or crunchy foods that can disrupt healing. 

In other words, you don’t want to do too much chewing, which can lead to soreness and swelling. 

The Role of Regular Dental Check-ups

Keep your teeth pristine by coming in for regular dental check-ups. We can perform X-rays and give you a clean slate for caring for your teeth. In particular, dentistry for children recommends that they should be seen about twice a year for proper maintenance and prevention. 

This allows dentists to catch problems early, often before an extraction is necessary. 

Possible Complications and How To Address Them

Not every tooth extraction goes smoothly. These are the most common complications and what you can do to address them early on:

Dry Socket

Sucking from a straw or smoking during the healing process can lead to dry socket, a painful condition where the blood clot is dislodged from the healing site. You will usually notice if you have dry socket about one to three days after the extraction. 

Your dentist or oral surgeon may prescribe mouthwashes or gels to cover the area and promote clotting to eliminate this painful complication. 


Sometimes, an infection can settle in, which is why antibiotics are typically prescribed in your post-operative instructions. Take the entire prescription as written. Many people try to skip doses or discontinue usage before it has time to run its course. 

If you notice pain, swelling, discharge, or difficulty with speaking, you might have an infection. 

Persistent Pain and Swelling

Most often, pain and swelling decrease by the second or third day following your extraction. If you find that your mouth is still extremely painful and the swelling has not gone down (or has gotten worse), you need to contact your dental professional immediately. 

This could be a sign of infection that will require the use of antibiotics. 

How and When To Seek Medical Attention

Pain is one of the first indicators that you may need medical attention. If it does not decrease with the use of prescription pain medication and it has been several days, you should seek medical attention to make sure that it is healing properly. 

Other instances where you should seek medical attention include:

  • Loose stitches if an incision was made
  • New or worsening bleeding
  • Persistent pain and swelling
  • Bad breath
  • Warmth and redness in the affected area

Importance of Following the Guidelines

Keeping your extraction site clean and doing what you can to promote healing is important. If you don’t follow some of these guidelines, you may worsen the pain you’ll feel and prolong healing. You need to work to reduce swelling and control bleeding with proper aftercare, from gauze to ice packs. 

With the above guidelines, you have the keys to managing your surgical site and increasing your odds of having a problem-free healing process. 

Make sure to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent future extractions from being necessary— brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you have wisdom teeth or another problematic tooth removed, there are many things you can do to minimize swelling and pain while promoting healing. Fresh Dental has the experience and skill you want on your side when it comes to removing a tooth. 

Give us a call today to see how we can help you manage your pain and get your smile back!