When there is too much damage for the tooth to be repaired, the tooth may need to be extracted -- or removed -- from its socket in the bone. Having a tooth removed is a pretty straightforward procedure. If there is enough of the tooth to be grasped by the dentist’s instruments, the dentist will perform a simple extraction. But if the tooth is severely damaged, extracting the tooth may require the dentist to get at it by making an incision in the gum. Either way, the tooth extraction is still surgery, so expect some discomfort. If the tooth extraction was done surgically rather than a simple extraction, the pain is likely to be somewhat greater and last a bit longer. The intensity and length of the discomfort after the tooth extraction will depend on how difficult it was to remove the tooth. Typically, though, the pain will last for a few days.
Why the Length and Level of Pain
Regardless of whether the tooth extraction was simple or surgical there will more bleeding and it will last longer generally than cuts elsewhere on your body. A cut in the mouth tends to bleed more than a cut elsewhere on the skin. This is because of the mouth moisture-it cannot dry out and form a scab. After a tooth extraction, you'll be asked to bite on a piece of gauze for 20 to 30 minutes. This pressure will allow the blood to clot. You will still have a small amount of bleeding for the next 24 hours or so. It should taper off after that. Your dentist will likely place a sedative dressing over the socket for a few days to protect it as a new clot forms. Warning: Don't disturb the clot that forms in the wound. There also might be some additional discomfort if stitches were required after extracting the tooth. If your doctor used the kind of stitches that dissolve on their own, it could take a week or two longer. In this instance, expect the discomfort to linger longer also. It takes weeks even months for the tissue around the extracted tooth to actually heal. The good news is that the pain and discomfort will be gone after only a few days.
What to Do to Lessen Pain, Promote Healing After Tooth Removal
Your dentist will outline instructions following the tooth extraction(s). The dentist may tell you to:
- Bite firmly but gently on the gauze pad placed by your dentist to reduce bleeding in the area of the extracted tooth and allow a clot to form in the tooth socket. Change gauze pads before they become soaked with blood. Otherwise, leave the pad in place for three to four hours after the extraction.
- Apply an ice bag to the affected area immediately after the procedure to keep down swelling. Apply ice for 10 minutes at a time.
- Take prescribed painkillers
- Relax for at least 24 hours after the tooth extraction. Limit activity for the next day or two.
- Avoid rinsing or spitting forcefully for 24 hours after the extraction to avoid dislodging the clot that forms in the socket.
- Rinse gently with a salt water solution about 24 hours after surgery a few times a day
- Not smoke or use a straw or spit after surgery. These actions can pull the blood clot out of the hole where the tooth was. Do not smoke on the day of surgery. Do not smoke for 24 to 72 hours after having a tooth extracted.