What To Expect After Tooth Extraction: A Patient Guide
If you’re wondering what to expect after tooth extraction, you’ve landed in the right place. It might not be at the top of your list, but sometimes the best solution to a dental problem involves removing your tooth. And many young people find themselves facing the removal of wisdom teeth. Regardless of the situation, knowing what to expect helps reduce your anxiety about what’s normal and when to be concerned.
Consider It Minor Surgery
Removing a tooth involves creating a small wound in your mouth. A tooth sits in the gum and bone, and we only see about 1/3 of the tooth structure above the gum line. The rest of it is anchored in the upper or lower jaw with thousands of tiny fibers that attach it to the bone.
After the tooth, bone, and gum are numbed with local anesthetic, your dentist applies steady pressure around the tooth to carefully detach it from the small attachment fibers. Pressure also slightly expands the bone and allows the tooth to loosen. In most cases, the tooth ends up out within a few minutes of precise, intentional movements.
In some cases, a tooth doesn’t easily move due to unusual roots that curve or extend deep into the jaw. Sometimes bone is less flexible than expected, or the tooth is difficult to engage because of deep cavities or broken pieces. If your dentist encounters this challenge, the gum is opened around the tooth, bone is carefully removed, and the pieces elevate out with the right technique. A few stitches are placed and healing begins.
What Comes Next?
At this point, you really start to wonder what to expect after your tooth extraction. Let’s look at a few things to keep in mind:
- Be patient with healing: The majority of your healing will take place over a period of two weeks, but the area will continue to change for several more weeks. Sometimes, small fragments of loose bone migrate their way to the surface and come out. But during the first 24 hours, it’s important to avoid vigorous exercise or heavy lifting
- Don’t skip eating: During the first 24 hours after a tooth extraction, you should go for soft foods and avoid hot beverages. Hard foods may aggravate the new wound, and hot beverages tend to soften the fragile clot. But after the first day or two, you can start to enjoy your normal eating habits.
- Rest wisely: A lot of restoration and repair goes on during sleep. If you’re not getting enough rest, healing tends to take longer.
- Stay in touch: If you have swelling that appears two or three days after your extraction, be sure to contact your dentist. If it’s accompanied by fever, difficulting breathing or swallowing, or bad-tasting discharge, make the call.
The Long Haul
Once you’ve started to heal, consider the longer term picture. Over time, the jawbone may begin to shrink and thin in areas where you’re missing teeth. You may also find that neighboring teeth tip into open spaces. Opposing teeth move down or up into edentulous areas. While this process may take years, you may end up with an unstable bite, difficulty chewing, and jaw pain issues.
Talk with your dentist about the best options for replacing your missing teeth or stabilizing your shifting teeth. Dental implants support natural, strong restorations that feel like natural teeth. A small bridge from one tooth to another may serve you, too. On the other hand, a removable appliance may be a quick and easy solution for replacing several missing teeth.
Moving On After Tooth Extraction
If you don’t have a dentist or you’re dealing with more questions about what to expect after tooth extraction, you’re in the right place. DentalChat provides the best platform to connect with licensed U.S.-based dentists. You can ask questions online and even connect with a nearby office that can help you with your needs. Feel free to jump on and see how we can help now or in the future!