Experiencing pain after a tooth extraction is common, and normal. We have many patient say “My Gums Hurt After Tooth Extraction” Depending on how extensive the procedure was and the type of extraction, this pain can range from tolerable to very severe and painful. This pain may last for a few days, or for up to a week or more. Usually, we will prescribe a pain medication following your extraction to help you manage your pain, and it is important that you take this medication as directed.
Managing Your Pain Following an Extraction
There are a number of things that you can do to help keep your pain following a tooth extraction to a minimum. In general, you will experience the worst pain for 12-24 hours following the procedure, along with swelling and bleeding as well. To help prevent some of the most severe pain, take your first dose of prescribe painkiller before the local anesthetic has completely worn off; your dentist will let you know of the exact time. It may also help to keep your head slightly elevated, and avoid drinking through a straw for the first several days following your extraction.
Your pain should be greatly decreased by the time you reach 48 hours following your extraction. At this time, you should be able to manage your pain with decreasing amounts of prescription painkiller, using over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol or Motrin to manage your pain whenever possible. If your pain and swelling has not greatly decreased by 48 hours following your extraction, or if you experience severe, radiating pain and throbbing you may have developed a complication known as dry socket, and should contact your dentist as soon as possible.
What Is Dry Socket?
Dry socket is a painful complication that sometimes occurs after tooth extraction. This occurs when the blood clot at the extraction site is dislodged, causing the bone beneath to become inflamed. One of the most common causes of this condition is patients to continue to smoke after an extraction, which can decrease the blood supply in the mouth, calling the clot to come loose. Drinking through a straw can also cause this condition. Less common causes are bacterial infections or physiological factors.
Speeding the Healing Process
There are a number of things that you can do to help your body heal more quickly following a tooth extraction:
- Take all prescribed medications, including painkillers, as directed
- Rest with your head slightly elevated for the first 24 hours, and limit physical activity for the next few days.
- Bite down gently on a gauze pad to slow any bleeding and help the clot to form. Change the gauze every three to four hours, or before they become saturated.
- Avoid rinsing forcefully to prevent the clot from dislodging from the socket.
- Do not smoke or use products containing nicotine for 24 hours.
- Do not use a straw to drink for 24 hours.