• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

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Well-known member
Aug 8, 2006
Dos and don'ts

1) It is normal for the area to be tender for the first few days, and in most cases simple over-the-counter pain relief is enough to ease any discomfort. Start taking painkillers immediately afterwards - don't wait until pain sets in! It is far easier to prevent pain than to make it go away. Avoid disprin/aspirin as this thins the blood and can make your mouth bleed. The most common painkillers are ibuprofen and paracetamol. Always check with your dentist or pharmacist which painkillers you are allowed to take, especially if you have any other health conditions.

2) Go home, rest and take it easy for the rest of the day. Any exertions may cause the wound to bleed, so don't exercise for at least 12 to 24 hours. Do not bend over or do heavy lifting for 2-3 days.

3) Do not smoke or consume products containing nicotine (even e-cigs).

4) Rinse gently 2-3 times daily with salt water or chlorhexidine mouthwash for 1 minute.

5) Avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours, as it could delay the healing process.

6) If it bleeds, bite onto a moistened gauze pad or piece of cotton wool (folded thick enough to bite on) and press for 5-10 minutes. If this doesn't stop the bleeding, dampen a tea bag (ordinary black tea, not fruit or Earl Grey) with cold water and fold it in half and bite down on it for 10 minutes or so, applying gentle pressure to the socket. The tannin in black tea helps stop bleeding. Some slight bleeding for the first day or so is normal. But if you still bleed more heavily after an hour or two, go back to your dentist.

7) Do not constantly spit or rinse out. This will only cause the area to continue to bleed. You shouldn't rinse for the first 24 hours. After this initial period, you should gently rinse 4 times a day using warm salt water (1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water). Don't spit out forcefully. Rinse after every meal and snack, making sure the water removes any bits of food around the area where the tooth is missing.

8) Don't blow your nose unless you have to.

9) Ice packs will reduce swelling and bruising.

10) Make sure you clean your teeth. This will reduce the volume of bacteria in your mouth and reduce the chance of infection. Be careful though not to dislodge the blood clot when brushing near the extraction site for 2-4 days. You can carefully wipe the area with a clean, wet gauze pad.

11) If you want to lie down on the day of surgery, and for the first night following surgery, keep your head up with pillows if possible.

12) Stick to a liquid or soft food diet for the first day or two. Examples include soups, yoghurts, milkshakes, mashed potatoes etc. A Vitamin C supplement may also be helpful. Avoid spicy foods, hot drinks and sodas for 3-4 days to prevent irritation and burns.

How will the wound look in the next few days?

A clot will start off being red and then as it breaks down it will go yellow/grey/white. This is normal. It may look red later on and that means new blood vessels are growing and the site is healing normally.

I'm in pain what do I do?

Ice to reduce swelling.
If all else fails then see your dentist.

Swelling and sometimes bruising can occur, especially with wisdom teeth. The worst swelling, pain and jaw stiffness normally occurs 2 or 3 days after surgery. On the day of the surgery, apply ice packs for 15 minutes on then 15 minutes off until bedtime. This will keep swelling to a minimum. Also keep your head elevated until bedtime. Moist heat after 36 hours may help jaw soreness. Arnica cream can help with the swelling.

Do I have a dry socket and how can I manage?

Follow the dos and don'ts

You may notice a very bad smell coming from the socket and you will experience pain for several days after the extraction. See your dentist to have the site irrigated and a dressing placed. If you're in a lot of pain then over the counter painkillers or stronger ones prescribed from your gp should do the trick.
This is not an infection so antibiotics will not help. You will just have to wait and be patient until the wound heals.

Will I need antibiotics after an extraction?

Usually not.
You only need antibiotics if a facial swelling is getting worse or if you are starting to get a temperature.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and the majority of extraction wounds do not become infected.
If you've been prescribed antibiotics, follow the instructions and make sure you finish the course.

(Thanks to GentleDental for providing large parts of this information)

For more tips, see https://www.dentalfearcentral.org/faq/healing/
Hi. This is my first post here and I am hoping for some support or advice as I am feeling so confused and scared.

I am on the 5th day of my tooth extraction, 1 upper wisdom tooth and 1 lower molar. It took everything in me just to let them do it - and thankfully I have a kind dentist. I have been following the post surgical instructions very strictly because I’m terrified of either getting dry socket or an infection.

I have been rinsing with warm salt water 4-5 times a day as instructed, usually after meals. But I have no idea what to do about brushing! Do I use toothpaste? Water? My tongue feels disgusting. Last night I tried to brush VERY gently with just water + floss, then rinse with warm salt water, but it doesn’t seem enough?? I’m honestly scared of doing something wrong. My dentist did not give me any anti-bacterial mouthwash to rinse with. I’m so afraid of them getting infected or the blood clot being moved. I don’t know what to do.

I just want to brush my (non-extracted area) teeth with toothpaste and clean my tongue. I hate this feeling and I’m terrified I’m going to get an infection. I’m terrified other people can smell my breath and it won’t get better because my molar isn’t anywhere near “closing”. Please, any advice from dentists or others that have been through tooth extractions would help. This whole process has driven me bonkers and I just want it to be over and be free from this constant fear.

The extraction site is not “closed yet”, it takes a few weeks for it to close down and a few months to reach its definitive form.
After 5 days the blood clot and the granulation tissue is stable enough for the brush. It is better to brush gently, not only the extraction site but also the teeth themselves.

The extraction site is not “closed yet”, it takes a few weeks for it to close down and a few months to reach its definitive form.
After 5 days the blood clot and the granulation tissue is stable enough for the brush. It is better to brush gently, not only the extraction site but also the teeth themselves.

Thank you!! That’s a relief. Should I use toothpaste or just water?
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