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Tooth Extraction Recovery Dos and Don’ts

Nobody likes oral surgery, even with all the feel-good drugs they give you these days, but losing a tooth certainly isn’t the horror that it was years ago. These days there are all kinds of ways to control the pain and prevent infection. And you don’t have to live with an embarrassing gap in your smile thanks to all manner of dental implants designed to look just like your real teeth (or better, in some cases). However, you will still have to go through a recovery process following tooth extraction surgery, and you need to be careful if you want the best chance of coming out with a healthy smile. Here are just a few dos and don’ts that should keep you on track for a speedy recovery.

DO:
1. Follow instructions. Your dentist doesn’t type up post-surgical instructions for his health; he does it for yours. So it’s in your best interest to take the time to read the form he gives you and ask questions about anything you don’t fully understand. When you follow instructions to a T, you’re much more likely to have the easy and swift recovery you prefer, free of painful complications.
2. Give yourself a break. Just because tooth extraction isn’t exactly considered major surgery doesn’t mean you don’t need time to recover. It may not be on the same level as an emergency appendectomy or a quadruple bypass, but you still need to give your body time to heal, albeit less time than a major surgical procedure. This means taking a day or two off work, lying around with an ice pack on your face, and eating Jello, ice cream, and other soft foods.
3. Watch for warning signs. If you can’t seem to staunch the bleeding, your mouth hurts more than it should, or swelling fails to subside in a timely manner, you could be facing an issue that you can’t deal with on your own. So don’t hesitate to call your dentist if you’re worried about ongoing symptoms that could be evidence of serious problems following surgery.

DON’T:
1. Return to your normal routine right away. Yes, your mouth is going to feel gross after a tooth extraction. But you can’t jump right in with a toothbrush, floss, and your regular mouthwash, unless you’re keen on making an even bigger mess. Your post-op instructions generally recommend gentle rinsing with salt water the day of the surgery (12 hours later). And this should be repeated for several days following extraction to keep the site clean and promote healing. While you can probably brush and floss gently the next day, taking great care to avoid the extraction site, you’ll want to hold off on the Listerine until your mouth has healed significantly.
2. Participate in strenuous activities. Like any type of surgery, a tooth extraction can be draining, so you’ll probably want to avoid exercise, heavy lifting, or other strain for the first day or two. Of course, there is a more important reason to heed this warning – raising your heart rate could cause the blood clot in your mouth to open and star oozing, opening you up to infection and other issues.
3. Fail to check in with your dentist. Whether you opt to try a recommended office like Timberland Dental or you stick with the same practitioner you’ve been seeing for years, you’re likely to receive the same advice: if you have any questions or concerns after surgery, call the office. You might worry that you’re bothering them or that your questions are stupid, but won’t you feel worse if you fail to call and you suffer a serious setback as a result?