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What To Do After An Extraction

At the Dentist's Office


The length of time you experience numbness varies depending on the type of anesthetic you've received. While your mouth is numb, you'll want to be careful not to bite your cheek, lip, or tongue. The numbness should subside within a few hours.


Your dentist will place a gauze pack on the extraction site to limit the bleeding and confine the blood while clotting takes place. The gauze pack should be left in place for 30-40 minutes after you leave the dentist's office. Do not chew on the pack.

At Home


There may be some bleeding or oozing after the pack is removed. If so, follow this procedure:

The Blood Clot

After an extraction, a blood clot forms in the tooth socket. This is an important part of the normal healing process. You should therefore avoid activities that might disturb the clot. Here is how to protect it:

Swelling and Pain

After a tooth is removed, you may have some discomfort and notice some swelling. You can help reduce swelling and pain by applying cold compresses to the face on and off for several hours after the extraction; you can use an ice bag or cold moist cloth.


Your dentist may prescribe medication to control pain and prevent infection. Use it only as directed. If the medication prescribed does not seem to work for you, do not increase the dosage. If you have prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever, call your dentist immediately. He or she will give you exact instructions on how to care for your problem.


After the extraction, drink lots of liquids and eat soft, nutritious food. Avoid alcoholic beverages and hot liquids. Begin eating solid foods the next day or as soon as you can chew comfortably. For about two days, try to chew food on the side opposite the extraction site. If you are troubled by nausea and vomiting, call your dentist for advice.


The day after the extraction, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water (half a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water). You should rinse at least 3 times a day for the next 3 days. Rinsing after meals is important to keep food particles out of the extraction site, but remember not to rinse your mouth vigorously. Avoid using mouth rinse or mouthwash during this early healing period.

Oral Hygiene

It is important to continue brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly at least once a day. The tongue should also be brushed. This will eliminate the bad breath and unpleasant taste that are common after extraction. Always use a soft-bristled brush so that you do not injure the tissue in your mouth. On the day of the extraction, avoid cleaning the teeth next to the healing tooth socket.

Remember that you have just had a minor surgery. Be kind to yourself!

Tooth extraction is a minor surgical procedure. Therefore, it is natural that temporary changes will occur in the mouth afterward. You'll be functioning normally in just a few days. In the meantime, you should follow a few simple rules to help promote healing, prevent complications, and make yourself more comfortable.