How to Avoid Tooth Extraction Complications

ID-100267607Tooth extraction can be unpleasant enough, but when complications set in, the situation can quickly become serious. Surgical tooth extractions are significantly more complex than those performed in your dentist’s office, and consequently, the risks are higher. You can avoid extraction-related problems by following your doctor’s or dentist’s instructions for before and after the procedure. No matter how careful you are, however, problems can develop. Read on for more information about treating complications related to tooth extraction.

Typical Complications Associated with Extractions

The biggest risk for complications after having a tooth extracted is infection. The more teeth are involved, the greater the risk. The healthiest people have a 10 percent risk of infection. For those with a compromised immune system, the elderly, kids and anyone who is sick at the time of extraction, the risk goes up to 25 percent.

A painful condition known as dry socket is another possible complication, as is excessive pain, swelling and unexpected or uncontrollable bleeding from the incision site. In some cases, a hole may develop into a sinus cavity. This is rare and typically resolves on its own; however, a trip back to the oral surgeon may be necessary if it does not.

Take Steps to Avoid Complications

The most important step you can take to avoid problems related to any oral procedure is follow your doctor’s instructions for preparation and aftercare. Basic aftercare involves being careful not to traumatize the extraction site, keeping the area clean and having your stitches removed as recommended (if applicable).

You may be advised to avoid solid food and to irrigate the socket with saline solution. If you do eat, chew on the other side of your mouth and stick to softer foods. Be careful with brushing and flossing and avoid swishing or other activities that could dislodge the blood clot that forms inside the socket. This protects sensitive tissues and bone. If the blood clot fails to form or becomes dislodged, it leaves an unprotected environment that encourages germs or bacteria to get inside and fuel an infection.

Treatment of Tooth Extraction Complication

For excessive swelling, your doctor may recommend ice packs or warm compresses, and keeping your head elevated. If excess or prolonged bleeding occurs, contact the doctor immediately for further instructions. Treatment for severe pain will depend on the cause. If a dry socket is responsible, the doctor may apply medicated dressings to the socket. Pain medication can reduce your discomfort, but it won’t resolve the underlying problem.

For an infection, antibiotics are typically prescribed. Once the infection is under control, the side effects of pain, swelling and draining will minimize and then disappear as the area heals. Moist heat and NSAID drugs can help with jaw soreness, but your doctor may also recommend stretching exercises to help restore jaw function. Other than wisdom teeth, most surgeons recommend replacing the extracted tooth as soon as possible, to minimize additional complications such as gum recession, bone loss or shifting of nearby teeth.

At Capital Oral & Facial Surgery Center, we understand that surgical tooth extraction can be challenging. We work hard to ensure that our patients have a successful experience with minimal pain or complications. Talk to the doctor about the steps you can take to avoid problems, both before and after your tooth extraction.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

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