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A: Having a tooth out is the same as having an operation and, because of this, you must look after the affected area to speed healing and to reduce the risk of infection. You need to pay great attention to the advice of your dentist in order to maintain the health of your mouth in these circumstances.
A: For the first 24 hours, try to avoid eating hot food, don't smoke, don't drink any alcohol and try not to disturb any blood clot which might have formed.
A: Don't rinse your mouth for six hours after extraction. After that, rinse gently with warm salty water - half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of water is enough. DO NOT use mouthwash until your dentist tells you it is OK to do so.
A: It is vital that you keep your mouth as clean and healthy as possible after your extraction. Therefore, the best advice is to continue to brush your teeth as you normally would.
A: Possibly the most unusual after-effect of a tooth extraction is that you may feel some small pieces of bone work their way out of the socket. If this happens, please do not worry, this is perfectly normal. There may also be some swelling and a bit of discomfort in the first two to three days. If you need to, take some ordinary painkillers - aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol will be fine.
A: If you feel pain immediately after the tooth has been removed, it might be where the blood clot has broken down, leaving an empty hole in the gum. This is called a 'dry socket' and will need to be looked at by your dentist. Simply return to the practice and the dentist will pack the wound to ease your discomfort.
A: Your dentist may have given you some gauze to place onto the area where the tooth has been removed - if not, a clean cloth handkerchief will do just as well (but not a paper tissue). Roll it into a small firm pad large enough to fit over the gap (probably around 1cm by 3cm).
A: The best way to use a gauze is detailed in these three simple steps:
1 - Sit up and gently clear away any blood clots around the gap using the gauze or hanky.
2 - Put a clean pad over the gap (from tongue side to cheek side) and bite down on it firmly for 10 to 15 minutes.
3 - Take the pad off and check whether the bleeding has stopped. If not, apply a fresh pad and contact your dentist.
A: An excellent visual example of a tooth extract can be found in 3D format at the BDA's 3D Mouth website.