1. Take Good Care of Your Blood Clots
Huh!? That’s not a typo; we’re serious. After an extraction or wisdom tooth removal one of the best ways to fast track your healing and help prevent the painful condition known as dry sockets, is to have a blood clot covering your surgery site. The clot has a couple of therapeutic benefits.
- It covers the tooth removal site and acts as a barrier for bacteria and debris.
- Clotting is one of the first steps in the healing process. If you dislodge your clot there is a chance you will start bleeding again and the body will need to go back a few steps in the healing process to generate a new clot.
How to Take Good Care of Your Blood Clot
Don’t suck straws!
Sucking through a straw causes almost the same pulling reaction in your mouth as it does the straw. (If you’re reading this pretending to suck a straw to see what we mean don’t worry, you’re totally normal). Suffice it to say, many a young and tender blood clot has been ripped from it’s home by the unsuspecting milk shake drinker.
Don’t swish your mouth for 24-48 hours.
Swishing is designed to get things out of your mouth and clean your mouth. Now is NOT a good time to take up swishing. I know you’re mouth feels weird, and that sensation may give you the desire swish and rinse. But if you do, please consider yourself warned that you might dislodge your clot.
*The Exception to this rule – There is a benefit to a GENTLE rinse with saline. The word gentle cannot be over emphasized enough. If you ever end up in our office for an extraction Dr. Crump does a comical little demonstration of how to sip some water and then just roll your head from side to side and front to back, almost like you’re doing neck stretches, and then standing over the sink just letting the water fall out of your mouth into the sink. The key is that you’re letting gravity gently roll the water around in your mouth as opposed to the crazy turbulence of swishing and spitting with typical force.
Dr. Crump’s Not So Secret Recipe for Homemade Saline
1 mug of warm water
1 heaping teaspoon of salt
If you’re a reader thinking,
“Opps, I already dislodged my clot. What do I do now?”
Don’t worry. While that’s not ideal, you aren’t the first person and you won’t be the last person who accidently dislodged their clot(s). You may begin to notice a little bit of bleeding again. If it’s just a slight amount and stops again within 30-60 minutes it’s no problem. If it seems to be bleeding steadily you can gently bite down on tea bags again until your body has time to begin to set another clot. If you still have heavy bleeding 2 or 3 hours later despite biting down on tea bags you may need to give us a call.
2. No smoking
Smoking is bad for four reasons (well, it’s bad for lots more than four reasons, but we’re just talking about extractions and wisdom teeth here).
- Smoking is kind of like sucking a straw. When a smoker takes a draw on the cigarette it pulls in the mouth and can dislodge the clot.
- Your mouth is trying to heal from just having teeth removed. It is not a good time to have cigarette smoke and all it’s carcinogens and chemicals lurking about.
- Smoking will put you at higher risk for painful dry sockets.
- Smoking will lengthen the time it takes to recover.
3. Take your pain medications consistently, and not on an empty stomach.
The trick to getting the best pain relief possible is to take your pain medications BEFORE you are in terrible pain; that gets the medication into your system before you’re miserable. If, on the other hand, you wait until you’re really uncomfortable, then you have to wait an additional miserable 30-45 minutes for the medication to dissolve in your stomach and get into your system. If your prescription says take every 4-6 hours then take it every 4-6 hours at least for the first 24 hours.
Additionally, the last thing you want to be doing when you’ve just had a tooth extraction or wisdom tooth removed is to be nauseated and throwing up. The nausea that results from taking some pain medications can be reduced or eliminated if they are taken with a bit of food in your stomach. You may not have much of an appetite, and that’s o.k. Just a bit of solid food will be enough to help.
4. Ice is nice. Ice is cool. Ice is your friend.
Applying an ice pack to the face over the operated area will help minimize swelling. We’d love it if you iced the area as much as you can tolerate comfortably for the first 24 hours. If the coldness is too much for you over extended periods of time you can switch to the Ice on/Ice off Method.
Ice On/Ice Off Method
Ice on for 15 minutes. Ice off for 15 minutes.
Ice on. Ice off. Ice on. Ice off. Wax on. Wax off. (oh wait, that’s something else).
It’s important to know when your recovery isn’t going well and you need to call the doctor. Here’s a couple of times it’s important to give us a call.
- If pain in uncontrolled by your pain medication. I know dentists get a bad wrap for causing pain, but at Boise Family Dental Care we want you to be as comfortable as possible. If your pain medication isn’t working for you we’d really like to know so we can help get you comfortable.
- If you have excessive or severe bleeding.
- If you start running a fever over 101.0 we want you to call us.
- If you have excessive swelling at the site that hasn’t gone down, and/or if your cheek is abnormally hot to the touch or red.
- If you have any reactions to the antibiotics or pain medication you were prescribed: rash, itching, hives, breathing problems, etc.
We wish you all the best and a very speedy recovery!!
If you have any further questions, or are looking for a dentist in Southwest Idaho please give us a call. We’d love to meet you and talk about your smile.