Tooth extraction is an easy, routine procedure, especially when performed by an experienced oral surgeon.
Most tooth extractions go smoothly, with no complications during or after surgery. However, a small percentage of patients may encounter problems during the healing process.
Fortunately, you can help avoid these complications with a few simple steps.
Potential Complications of Tooth Extraction
The most common complication following a tooth extraction is known as dry socket.
After a tooth is removed, a blood clot forms to protect the extraction site. If this blood clot becomes dislodged or dissolves before the wound is completely healed, it leaves the bone and nerves exposed the air. This can result in intense pain at the extraction site and along the side of the face.
Infection is another possible post-surgical complication.
When bacteria or food particles become trapped in the socket, patients can suffer pain, swelling, fever and bleeding or drainage. Anyone can develop this condition, but those who are ill or who have weakened immune systems are at an increased risk, as are tobacco users.
Proper Oral Care after Tooth Extraction
The American Dental Association (ADA) offers specific tips for a smooth, complication-free recovery.
For the first few days after tooth removal, be sure to keep your mouth clean. Brush and floss your other teeth as usual, but do not attempt to clean the socket or the teeth next to the extraction site. You can gently rinse the socket with salt water, but do not swish or spit.
The ADA also recommends that you avoid drinking through a straw or smoking for at least 24 hours.
Following all aftercare instructions from your oral surgeon is critical, as caring for the wound correctly encourages proper healing.
You likely will be advised to eat a soft food diet for several days. It is also important to avoid physically strenuous activities for at least a week after the extraction. Depending on your health and the type of procedure you have had, you may have other post-surgical instructions particular to your situation.
Treatment for Tooth Extraction Complications
If you are one of the unlucky few who experiences a complication after a tooth extraction, the first step is to contact our office immediately.
In most cases, ice packs, warm compresses and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can provide relief from pain and swelling, but you should only take these steps if you have been advised to do so by a doctor.
Depending on the circumstances, you may need to come in for further treatment.
If you develop dry socket, a medicated dressing or paste may be applied over the extraction site. You may need to have this dressing replaced every few days until the wound has healed. For an infection, antibiotics likely will be prescribed.
With extractions of teeth that are not wisdom teeth, we may recommend replacement with a dental implant or bridge, to avoid bone loss and further oral health complications in the future.
The professional team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, serving the greater Salt Lake City area, is committed to providing you with a positive experience, with a minimal risk of complications. Call to schedule a consultation today to discuss your possible tooth extraction.