How to relieve pain after tooth extraction

Although tooth extraction is a rather common procedure, many patients often report feeling some kind of pain afterwards that can be successfully managed with over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen or homemade therapies like applying ice or rinsing your mouth with salt water, among many others.

It is normal to experience some discomfort, swelling, and bruising in the first few days following the extraction. This includes mild to moderate pain that peaks within 48 to 72 hours after the procedure, and gradually subsides over the next few days, though it may persist for up to a week or more in some cases.

However, if the pain persists beyond 10 days or worsens over time, it may indicate an infection or other complications that require further evaluation by a dentist or oral surgeon.

Generally, the intensity and duration of the pain may vary from person to person depending on factors such as the complexity of the extraction, individual pain tolerance, the number of teeth removed, and how well you follow post-operative instructions.

Fortunately, your dentist will recommend various ways to relieve the pain following your tooth extraction procedure:

pain relief after tooth extraction

Tips to relieve pain after tooth extraction

As mentioned before, any pain and discomfort that you experience after tooth extraction is normal, but there are several tips that can help relieve the pain so you can carry on with your daily activities and sleep normally:

1. Apply Ice

Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce swelling and relieve pain. The cold temperature of the ice causes the blood vessels in the area to constrict, which reduces blood flow and swelling. This, in turn, helps to reduce pain and discomfort.

Additionally, the ice can help to numb the area and provide a numbing effect, which can also help to alleviate pain. That said, the ice should be applied for short periods of time and not directly on the skin, as this can cause damage.

Instead, use a cold compress or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel and apply it to the cheek for 10-20 minutes at a time.

2. Take Painkillers

Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation. These medications work by blocking the production of certain chemicals in the body that cause pain and inflammation.

Make sure to follow the instructions on the medication label and to only take the recommended dosage. Keep in mind that painkillers only help to manage pain after tooth extraction, but they do not address the underlying cause of the pain. So it’s vital that you follow proper post-operative care instructions provided by your dentist to promote healing and prevent complications.

In some cases, stronger prescription pain medications may be necessary to manage severe pain after tooth extraction. These medications may have more potential side effects and should only be taken as directed by a healthcare professional.

3. Rest and Avoid Strenuous Activity

It is important to get plenty of rest after a tooth extraction and avoid any strenuous activity that could increase blood flow and cause the blood vessels in the extraction site to expand, which can increase pain and swelling, and prolong healing.

Resting and avoiding activities that involve bending over, heavy lifting, or strenuous exercise can help to minimize pain and promote healing after a tooth extraction. 

It is generally recommended to rest for the first 24 hours after the extraction and gradually increase activity levels as tolerated in the following days.

4. Rinse with Saltwater

Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater can help reduce pain and swelling in several ways:

  • Saltwater can help keep the area clean and reduce the risk of infection.
  • The warm water can also help increase blood flow to the area, which can promote healing.
  • Additionally, the salt in the water can help draw out any excess fluid, reducing inflammation and discomfort

It’s important to wait at least 24 hours after the extraction before rinsing with saltwater to avoid dislodging the blood clot that forms in the socket, which is necessary for proper healing.

After 24 hours, mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water and gently swish the solution around in your mouth for 30 seconds and then spit it out. Repeat this several times a day as needed to help with pain relief and healing. Rinse your mouth gently, being careful not to spit forcefully.

5. Elevate head while sleeping

Elevating the head while sleeping can help with pain after tooth extraction by reducing swelling and promoting better blood circulation.

When the head is elevated, gravity helps to drain fluids and prevent them from pooling in the extraction site, which can contribute to swelling and discomfort. In addition, elevated sleeping position can improve blood flow and reduce pressure on the affected area, promoting faster healing and reducing pain.

To get your head in the right position, it is recommended to use an extra pillow or two to prop up the head and upper body at a slight angle. This position should be comfortable and not cause any strain on the neck or back.

It is important to maintain this position for several nights after the extraction to help reduce swelling and pain. It is also important to avoid sleeping on the side of the extraction site or using a heating pad or other warm compress, as these can increase swelling and inflammation.

6. Use natural remedies

There are various natural remedies you can use to kill pain following tooth extraction. These include:

  • Clove oil contains eugenol, which is a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory agent. To use clove oil, soak a cotton ball in the oil and then gently place it on the affected area for a few minutes. This should help numb the area and reduce pain.
  • Tea bags contain tannic acid, which is a natural astringent that can help reduce swelling and bleeding. After brewing a cup of tea, remove the tea bag and let it cool. Once cool, place the tea bag on the affected area for about 10-15 minutes. The tannins in the tea bag can help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Garlic has antimicrobial and analgesic properties. Simply crush a garlic clove and mix it with salt to make a paste. Apply the paste to the affected area to help reduce pain and prevent infection.
  • Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Mix a small amount of turmeric powder with water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the affected area to help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory and analgesic prope Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel directly to the affected area to help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Coconut oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Apply a small amount of coconut oil to the affected area to help reduce pain and prevent infection.
  • Chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Steep a chamomile tea bag in hot water for a few minutes, then let it cool. Place the tea bag on the affected area to help reduce pain and swelling.

Natural remedies should be used in conjunction with pain medication prescribed by a dentist or doctor. They can provide temporary relief, but they may not be as effective as prescription medication for managing pain after tooth extraction. If the pain persists, it’s important to contact your dentist or doctor.

Follow Your Dentist’s Instructions

Lastly, your dentist will provide specific instructions on how to care for the extraction site, including how to brush your teeth after tooth extraction, foods and things to avoid after tooth extraction, natural remedies for aftercare, and when to come back for a follow-up appointment. 

It is important to follow these instructions for oral care and cleaning your mouth after tooth extraction to ensure a speedy recovery.

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  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

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