Swelling After Tooth Extraction? Here’s What You Need to Know
Although there are many types of dental procedures, there’s little to no doubt that tooth extractions are some of the most common. As a matter of fact, according to research, over 20 million teeth are extracted each year in the United States. In other words, almost all US citizens have experienced tooth removal at least once in their life.
However, while the procedure is safe and pain-free, what happens if you experience swelling afterward? Should you rush to the dentist or just wait for it to pass? Luckily, we are here to discuss the procedure and answer all your questions about swelling after tooth extraction.
The Ins and Outs of Tooth Extractions
As previously noted, tooth extractions are one of the most common procedures that a dentist can perform. It involves the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone using a variety of techniques and equipment. And even though the procedure may sound scary and unbearable, the use of an anesthetic makes it painless and quick.
Why Are Tooth Extractions so Common?
Due to so many dental problems that can affect the structural integrity of teeth, extractions are extremely common. Usually, a dentist will opt for an extraction to remove impacted teeth that can’t be saved. But what is an impacted tooth? Generally speaking, teeth that aren’t allowed to grow in their natural position due to gum tissue, other teeth, or bone are considered impacted. And while the adjustment is an option, it is very costly and can also prove to be ineffective. Therefore, removing the affected tooth becomes a more practical option for both patient and the dentist.
Additionally, broken or decayed teeth are also commonly extracted in order to avoid infections. Finally, a dentist will sometimes remove teeth to make room for braces or other orthodontic prosthetics. In other words, there are a lot of dental problems that require tooth extractions.
Should I Worry If I Experience Swelling After Tooth Extraction?
It’s no mystery that experiencing some swelling and bleeding after a tooth extraction is perfectly normal, as that’s the body’s response to trauma. In fact, most swelling will become visible the following day and might last for up to 72 hours. At the same time, some residual swelling can last for a week or more, depending on how fast your body heals.
The Causes of Swelling
Usually, swelling is caused by trauma due to the sheer force needed to remove a tooth from its socket. As a matter of fact, the more your dentist has to work on the soft tissues surrounding the tooth, the more swelling you will experience. And while some extractions are easier than others, there’s no telling how much the affected area will swell.
What Should I Do To Reduce the Swelling?
Although swelling around the cheeks, mouth, eyes, and sides of the face is normal, it’s definitely not enjoyable. As a result, the following tips should help you reduce swelling while also speeding up the recovery process:
- Use Ice Packs: Ice packs are the easiest and most effective way to reduce swelling. Applying ice packs on the affected side of your face for 20 minutes at a time will relieve pain and swelling. Just keep in mind that ice packs are only effective for about 24 hours after the procedure.
- Apply a Warm Compress: Similarly to ice packs, applying a warm compress on the face for 20 minutes can reduce the swelling considerably. And since the swelling peaks around the second or third day after the procedure, warm compresses are a great alternative to ice packs.
- Elevate Your Head: Keeping your head above your heart and sitting upright will regulate your blood flow and alleviate swelling and bleeding. If you have to lay down, use a couple of pillows to elevate your head and avoid sleeping on the side of the affected area.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and naproxen will reduce pain and swelling. Just be careful not to mix different types of anti-inflammatory drugs as that can cause side effects.
- Saltwater Rinses: Saltwater rinses will kill bacteria and eventually ease the swelling. However, try to avoid spitting as that could dislodge the blood clot and cause bleeding.
Tooth Removal Aftercare Tips
After going through tooth extraction, you will have to protect the area until it starts healing. In fact, if you are not careful, you can damage the socket, which can lead to bleeding or infections. The following tips are designed to help you increase the healing rate and protect the blood clot:
- Avoid Working Out: After tooth extraction, you need to avoid all types of physical activities, including working out. Otherwise, you may increase your blood pressure which will cause bleeding, pain, and swelling.
- Don’t Smoke or Drink Alcohol: Smoking and drinking alcohol can drastically increase the chances of infections. As a result, you should avoid both for at least a couple of days after the extraction.
- Avoid Hard Foods: Hard foods can easily break the blood clot and end up inside the empty socket. If that happens, you might experience bleeding or even infections. Therefore, soft foods such as mashed potatoes and soups need to become a part of your diet for a few weeks.
- Don’t Touch the Area: The blood clot is very vulnerable to pressure, meaning that even your tongue can break it. Thus, you need to avoid touching the extraction area when brushing your teeth or eating.
- Don’t Use Straws: Drinking through a straw might seem like a great idea after an extraction, but that’s not the case. Actually, straws create negative pressure inside your mouth, which has the potential to dislodge the blood clot.
All in all, it’s important to understand that swelling after a tooth extraction is perfectly normal. As a matter of fact, the swelling can last anywhere from one day to an entire week. While that is definitely annoying, ice packs, warm compresses, and anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce the swelling.
Additionally, you need to remember that following the aftercare tips is the best way to lower the risk of bleeding and infections. And if that wasn’t enough, you will also increase the healing rate meaning that you will be back on your feet in no time.