After a tooth extraction, it is important to keep your mouth clean to promote healing and prevent infection. However, this requires special care to avoid dislodging the blood clot and causing complications.
Generally, you will have to wait at least 24 hours after the extraction before attempting to clean your mouth, whether it’s brushing or rinsing your with saltwater, in order to give the clot enough time to stabilize.
But during this time, you may need to regularly bite down on damp gauze (never use a dry one) to stop any bleeding that occurs. The gauze is supposed to stay in place for at least 45 minutes each time to avoid pulling out the blood clot when changing it, which may lead to a dry socket.
Here are some guidelines on how to clean your mouth after a tooth extraction:
Rinse with salt water
Salt water rinses are recommended to help clean the extraction site, soothe the gums, and promote healing. To prepare the solution, simply add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and stir until it dissolves. Then take a big sip and swish it gently around your mouth, before spitting gently (not forcefully). Repeat this several times a day or as directed by your dentist.
Use a new soft-bristled toothbrush
Brushing your teeth is important for maintaining oral hygiene and preventing infection. However, you will have to skip brushing and flossing for the first 24 hours after the procedure. After that, you can gently brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush, being careful to avoid the extraction site for the first week. You may need to use a smaller toothbrush or brush with your non-dominant hand to avoid accidentally hitting the extraction site.
Use a medicated rinse to clean the extraction site
After tooth extraction, your dentist may prescribe a medicated rinse to help prevent infection and promote healing. Medicated rinses contain active ingredients that can help to reduce inflammation and swelling around the extraction site, and prevent bacterial growth and reduce the risk of infection at the extraction site.
Some even contain pain relieving agents that can help to alleviate discomfort and pain after the extraction, as well as ingredients that stimulate the healing process and promote the growth of healthy tissue around the extraction site. However, the use of medicated rinses should always be discussed with your dentist or oral surgeon, as certain types of rinses may be contraindicated for some patients or may interact with other medications.
There are several dental medicated rinses that can be used, including:
1. Chlorhexidine gluconate
This rinse is commonly used after dental procedures to reduce the risk of infection. It is available in different concentrations, including a 0.12% solution that can be used with a syringe to apply directly to the affected area.
2. Hydrogen peroxide
This is a common antiseptic rinse that can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. It can also be used with a syringe to apply directly to the extraction site.
Here are some steps for using a syringe and medicated rinse to clean the extraction site:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before handling the syringe and rinse.
- Fill the syringe with the prescribed amount of medicated rinse.
- Lean over the sink and gently flush out the extraction site with the rinse, using the syringe to direct the flow.
- Be gentle and do not use too much force, as this can disrupt the blood clot and slow down the healing process.
- Repeat the rinse as instructed by your dentist, typically 2-3 times a day.
- After using the rinse, do not eat or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow the medication to take effect.
Follow your dentist’s instructions carefully when using a syringe and medicated rinse to clean the extraction site, as improper use can lead to complications such as dry socket or infection.
Flossing is vital
After the first 24 hours, flossing can be a useful way to remove food particles and bacteria from the area around the extraction site. But you should be careful not to apply too much pressure or force around the extraction site, as this can disrupt the healing process and cause discomfort.
When flossing, make sure to avoid the actual extraction site, as it can be very sensitive and easily irritated. Instead, focus on flossing the teeth adjacent to the extraction site. If you have stitches in place, be very careful when flossing around them. Try to avoid snagging the floss on the stitches, as this can cause them to loosen or come out prematurely.
If you find that flossing is too uncomfortable or difficult after tooth extraction, consider using an interdental brush or water flosser instead. These tools can be very effective at removing debris from between teeth and along the gumline, without causing discomfort to the extraction site.
Avoid commercial mouthwashes
Mouthwashes that contain alcohol or harsh chemicals can irritate the extraction site and delay healing. Instead, use a gentle, alcohol-free mouthwash or salt water rinse to clean your mouth.
Avoid rinsing too vigorously
While it’s important to rinse your mouth after eating or drinking, be gentle when you do so. Vigorous rinsing can dislodge the blood clot and delay healing.
Follow your dentist’s instructions
Your dentist may have specific instructions on how to clean your mouth after the extraction, depending on the location of the extracted tooth and the complexity of the procedure.
Proper oral hygiene after a tooth extraction is crucial for ensuring a speedy and successful recovery. Follow your dentist’s instructions and contact them if you experience any unusual symptoms or complications.