Post Tooth Extraction Care (Do's and Don'ts)

Tooth Extraction is a procedure that is performed by a dentist or an oral surgeon that involves painless removal of a tooth from the socket in the bone. Extractions are performed for multiple reasons, but most commonly due to:

  • Impacted wisdom teeth

  • Decayed teeth that are un-restorable

  • Periodontal trauma

  • Crowded teeth for the purpose of orthodontic treatment (aka straightening of teeth).

Tooth extraction is something every individual goes through at least once in their life time and it is important to know what precautions to take to avoid extreme pain after and allow for faster healing.

So, here are some of the Do's and Don'ts after a tooth extraction:


1. Apply an Ice pack: While simple extractions may not lead to swelling, complicated cases (such as wisdom tooth extraction)n will definitely result in swelling reaching a maximum at 2nd or 3rd day usually as a result of severe cheek retractions for a log period of time.

How to apply: Following extraction It should be applied on the face in the area of extraction for 1-2 hour time periods; 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off. Note that after 36 hours the ice pack will no longer be effective and your swelling must have subsided by then. However you can also switch to using a moist heat pack after 48 hours if the swelling still persists.

2. Keep the gauze/cotton in place: After the procedure the dentist will place a piece of gauze for you to bite on and ask to keep in the same place for an hour. This is done in order to exert pressure over the wound that will help it to stop bleeding. Depending on the amount of bleeding make sure to change the gauze roughly every half hour. This will help in clot formation.

3. Rest and Stay Hydrated: Resting after extraction is crucial for speedy recovery. Make sure to keep your head in an upright position even while sleeping and avoid exerting in that area. Make sure to rest as much as possible and avoid any form of physical activity. After the blood clot is formed make sure to stay hydrated so that your body has energy to aid in faster healing.

4. Warm Saline Rinses: Make sure to maintain hygiene and cleanliness in the area of the wound in order to prevent infection. To do so, rinse your mouth with warm saline (salt mixed in warm water) 12 hours after extraction in a gentle swishing manner.

5. Eat nutritious soft foods: The best food to eat after an extraction is ice-cream. Eating something cold can help reduce bleeding as it constricts the capillaries. Other foods that are recommended include: Soups, Smoothies, Milkshakes, Yogurt and Broths (an excellent source of energy after dental surgery)


1. Avoid smoking: Smoking leads to chemicals that can contaminate the socket and delay healing. It may also lead to complications such as dry socket.

Thus make sure you don't smoke for at least 48 hours after extraction to minimize complications.

2. Avoid drinking alcohol: Drinking alcohol is not advisable for a minimum of 1 week after extraction as it can dislodge the clot formed. It can slow down the recovery process to a great extend may lead to dry socket formation similar to smoking. Another reason why alcohol must be avoided is because it may react with the pain relief medications given after extraction, thereby producing adverse effects

3. Avoid certain foods: Consumption of hot and spicy foods and drinks (including tea, coffee, etc) may aggravate the wound, thus it is advised to have soft foods. Also avoid sucking (using straws) as it could dislodge the clot.

Eating hard vegetables can also cause trauma to the area and delay healing.

4. Avoid medication like aspirin: Make sure to avoid medications such as aspirin which is a blood thinner and can interfere with the blood clot formation. Instead take the medications prescribed by the dentist (including painkillers and antibiotics) on time and also consult the dentist before taking any other medication.

5. Avoid brushing around the extraction site: For a minimum of 2-3 days post extraction, make sure not to brush or use any toothpaste around the area of extraction. You may feel different as your tooth is gone and it may feel like there's a hole in that area, however do not push your tongue or even use a toothpick in that area. The less you touch it the faster it will heal.

Some common questions after tooth extraction:

1. How long does it take for the hole to close after a tooth extraction?

Ans: It will take an average of about 4-6 weeks for the hole to close almost completely. Under the gingiva however, it may be a few months before the socket starts to close.

2. How long do you have to wait to eat after your extraction?

Ans: You can start following your usual diet after 3-4 days. However until then make sure you consume only soft foods and avoid spicy crunchy foods. Try to stick with cool foods for a while.

3. How can I make my tooth extraction heal faster?

Ans: By keeping the gauze in place for up to 2 hours unless you've been told differently and avoiding alcohol and smoking along with taking the prescribed medicines can help heal your extraction faster.

4. What is the most common complication after tooth extraction?

Ans: The most common complication after tooth extraction is dry socket. It is a painful condition that occurs when you don't follow the post extraction care instructions resulting in clot dislodgement.

5. When can I brush with tooth paste after extraction?

Ans: It is imperative to maintain cleanliness around the extraction site to promote healing. But do not brush the site for 3-4 days post surgery to prevent dislodgement of the clot from the socket. You can instead swish saline gently and avoid rinsing vigorously.

To conclude, tooth extraction aftercare is extremely vital to promote clot formation and aid in healing, so it is necessary to follow certain simple instructions given by the dentist. However it is also important to see a dentist in case of worsening of symptoms such as foul odour from the wound, high fever, increase in swelling, pain and bleeding (all suggestive of dry socket).

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