After Tooth Extraction

Care of your mouth after surgery has an important effect on healing. Swelling, discomfort, and restricted jaw function are to be expected. These conditions can be minimized by following post-operative instructions.

Control of Bleeding

After tooth extraction, it is important for a blood clot to form to stop bleeding and begin the healing process. After the blood clot forms, it is important not to disturb or dislodge the clot, as it aids healing.

Bite on 2-3 pieces of gauze rolled together for one hour following the extraction procedure. Change the gauze pads every 45-60 minutes until active bleeding stops (usually within 2-3 hours). Slight bleeding is expected, normal, and may last up to 48 hours. Moisten and roll or fold 2-3 pieces of gauze and place directly over the wound, or extraction site – – not just between your teeth – – and apply constant biting pressure for another hour. You may have to do this several times. If bleeding continues longer than 24 hours, call our office.

Assume a semi-upright position (a reclining chair, or in bed with at least 2 pillows). Avoid spitting, drinking through a straw, smoking, or chewing tobacco. Avoid excessive physical activity.

Avoid strenuous activity, as this will increase blood pressure and may cause more bleeding from the extraction site.

Do not rinse vigorously, use straws, smoke or chew tobacco for seven (7) days after surgery.

Control of Pain

After any tooth extraction you may feel some pain. If you have been given a prescription for pain medication, have it filled immediately and begin taking the medication – – with food – – as soon as you arrive home and are settled. Be sure to read and follow the instructions as printed on the bottle. Taking the medication with food helps to prevent nausea. If you develop a rash, hives, or have trouble breathing, discontinue all medications immediately and call our office.

Do not drink alcohol while taking prescription medications.

If you experience severe pain or a reaction to medication, call our office immediately.

If antibiotics have been prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if signs and symptoms of infection are gone.

Control of Swelling

Swelling to some extent follows nearly every tooth extraction and may be quite noticeable. Swelling does not necessarily mean that an infection is present. Apply ice for the first 48 hours following surgery. Place a barrier between the ice pack and the skin. After 48 hours, moist warm packs are recommended. Peak swelling usually occurs between 48-72 hours following surgery.


Consume a soft, no-chew diet while your mouth remains numb. If you have been given local anesthesia, numbness may be present up to 15 hours. Drink lots of fluids and eat nutritious soft food on the day of surgery. Be careful with hot foods during this time. Resume a normal diet as directed, usually as soon as the numbness wears off. Chewing helps minimize pain and stiffness in your jaws and teeth.

Oral Hygiene

It is important to resume a normal dental hygiene routine after 24 hours. This should include brushing and flossing your teeth at least once a day. Good hygiene will speed healing and help keep your mouth fresh and clean.


Limit vigorous activity for up to 3-5 days or as directed by your doctor.

Normally, after a few days you will feel fine and can resume normal activities.