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The Dos and Don'ts After a Tooth Extraction

Has your Calgary dentist recommended a tooth extraction? Here are some simple and easy tips to follow for a pain-free, quick recovery. 

A tooth extraction is a relatively pain-free and very safe dental procedure that involves removing one or more teeth from the bone socket. Your dentist may recommend this procedure if:

  • the tooth is severely damaged,
  • there’s extensive tooth decay,
  • it’s needed for orthodontic treatment,
  • a patient requires their wisdom teeth to be removed.

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The Dos and Don'ts of a Tooth Extraction Recovery Period  

If you have had a tooth extraction, it’s important to ensure you do all the right things to help the area heal as quickly and smoothly as possible and to ensure that a blood clot is formed.

REMEMBER: Following all the post-operative instructions from your dentist will reduce the chances of you developing an infection or a painful dry socket.

To help protect your oral health, here are some of the top dos and don’ts after a tooth extraction.


  • ensure you get plenty of rest. Don’t do too much activity for the first 24 hours following your treatment and ensure that your head is always in a slightly upright position on the pillow when you’re lying down.
  • apply ice packs to the treatment area to reduce the swelling. This is most effective if done on the first day and should be applied 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off for 1-2 hour time periods.
  • let a clot form. This will cover the tooth extraction site and allow for quicker healing. After the procedure, bite down on the piece of gauze given to you by the dentist. Make sure to change it every half an hour, until the bleeding stops. It can help to purchase some gauze in advance for this part of your treatment.
  • take painkillers to reduce any discomfort. This includes medication such as Ibuprofen and paracetamol but make sure to avoid aspirin, as this thins the blood and can make your mouth bleed more. ALWAYS check with your dentist before taking any medication.
  • be careful when brushing your teeth. This is especially important for the first 3-4 days. If you can’t get a toothbrush into your mouth due to swelling or discomfort, consider a mouthwash or carefully wipe the area clean with a wet gauze pad.
  • stick to a liquid or soft food diet for the first 2 days. Eat foods such as soups, fruit milkshakes, mashed potatoes and yoghurts. AVOID hot drinks, spicy food, and sodas for the first 3-4 days.
  • follow the proper instructions if you've been given antibiotics. Even if you feel perfectly fine, finish your course.
  • not rinse for the first 24 hours following a tooth extraction. After this point, you can begin gently rinsing with warm salt water at least 4 times a day after this initial period. But remember: DO NOT SPIT OUT FORCEFULLY, as this could dislodge the blood clot.


  • smoke for at least the first 48 hours. This is because smoking can increase your chances of developing an infection or painful dry socket.
  • eat solid foods for the first 3-4 days, especially when your jaw feels numb. When you start feeling your jaws, you can start transitioning off the liquid diet and to your normal eating routine.
  • skip any medications prescribed by your dentist. If antibiotics are given, they should be taken regularly. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs should be taken straight after the tooth extraction to reduce pain and discomfort.
  • take aspirin. Because it’s a blood thinner, aspirin will delay clot formation and prevent healing. Before you take any medication, ALWAYS consult your doctor or dentist.
  • poke at the gap created. Poking at the treatment area with your tongue or a toothpick will not only delay healing, but it may also provoke bleeding and increase your risk of developing dry socket.
  • have hot foods or drinks until the numbness wears off. Remember, you won’t be able to feel pain when you’re numb and may burn your tongue or mouth. Also, remember to chew slowly so you don’t accidentally bite your cheek.
  • drink alcohol for at least the first 48 hours as it could delay the healing process.
  • spit, suck on straws or blow your nose too hard as this may cause pressure that will dislodge your blood clot.

What to Expect From the Tooth Extraction Recovery Period

For most patients, it will take approximately 3-4 weeks for the gum tissue to completely heal. However, the pain and swelling is only temporary and should disappear within the first 1-3 days, though this will vary from person to person, and depends on the difficulty level of the tooth extraction.

Here are some important pieces of information you should keep in mind following this dental treatment:

1. Dry Socket is A Possible Side Effect

This forms when the blood clot becomes dislodged or doesn’t form, and exposes the bone and nerve endings to air, food, and liquids. Dry sockets delay the healing process and can be very painful.

If you suspect you have dry socket, see your dentist immediately as they can prescribe a course of antibiotics or place a medicated dressing in the socket to relieve the pain.

2. The Pain Should Gradually Disappear Within A Week

In some cases, the pain from a tooth extraction can last up to one week but it should feel as if it is gradually getting better. If you are suffering from a lot of discomforts, ask your dentist for stronger painkillers.

However, pain that starts to WORSEN after two days is abnormal and it’s important that you visit your local dental clinic immediately as it could be a sign of dry socket.

3. You May Have A Small Piece Of Bone Protruding From The Treatment Area

There are certain cases when small pieces of bone make their way to the surface and out from the site of extraction. This is perfectly normal and harmless but if it’s annoying you, you can always ask your dentist to remove it for you.

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Whatever your oral needs or concerns, our team of qualified Calgary dentists offer a wide range of dental services from wisdom teeth extractions and cleanings, to Invisalign and sedation dentistry to ensure the beauty of your smile and long-term health of your teeth and gums.

Want to know how we can help you?

To find out more about our dental services including tooth extractions and sedation dentistry, contact our Calgary dentists at 403-248-2066 or fill in our online contact form.

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