Reviewed by Dr. Thao Le, DDS, MD

Recovering from a tooth extraction, whether it be a single-tooth or wisdom teeth extraction, doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. At Foley & Le Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we’re dedicated to ensuring your recovery is as comfortable as possible. 

In the previous blogs in this series, we covered healing and aftercare and 50 soft foods to eat after tooth extraction. In this blog, we will discuss how to manage pain and discomfort after a tooth extraction. 

Table of Contents

Over-the-Counter Pain Relief Options

For managing mild to moderate pain, over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen or acetaminophen are often sufficient. They’re not just pain relievers but also help in reducing inflammation. For moderate pain, take a dose (400-600mg) of Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) every 4-6 hours as needed for pain. Remember to follow the recommended dosage and consult with us if you’re unsure.

*Do not take Ibuprofen if you have an intolerance to it, take blood thinners, have a history of stomach ulcers or kidney disease. 

Prescription Pain Relief

Following procedures like wisdom tooth extractions, we might prescribe stronger pain medications. It’s important to use these as directed and to let us know if you experience any unusual side effects.

​​We recommend the following protocol for optimum pain management:

Take each medication with a small snack and a full glass of liquid.

  • Immediately Following Surgery: 1 Prescription pain dosage
  • 3 Hours Later: Ibuprofen dosage
  • 3 Hours Later: 1 Prescription pain dosage
  • 3 Hours Later: Ibuprofen dosage

NOTE: The dosage of the prescription pain medication can be increased to 1 1/2 to 2 times the normal dosage if needed for pain management.

Reduce Swelling and Bruising

Incorporating natural methods can be a great add-on to traditional pain relief.

  • To reduce swelling, apply cold packs wrapped in a cloth to the face. Apply them in the first 48 hours, 20 minutes on 20 minutes off. 
  • In the first 48 hours, sleep with your head elevated at 30 degrees.
  • Application of Arnica gel to the face can help reduce bruising after surgery, if it occurs.

Signs to Watch For

While some discomfort is expected, certain symptoms can warrant a call to our office:

  • Uncontrolled pain several days post-extraction.
  • Symptoms of infection like fever, severe swelling, or pus.
  • Ongoing bleeding or a blood clot that seems to have dislodged.

Read After Wisdom Tooth Removal and After Tooth Extraction for our detailed post-operative instructions. 

Foley & Le Oral Surgery: Your Oral Surgeon in Boulder

Managing your pain and discomfort after a tooth extraction is crucial for a smooth recovery. We’re here to support you through your recovery, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any concerns during this time.

Up next, we’ll be discussing the exciting option of dental implants for replacing missing teeth. This next blog will offer valuable insights into how dental implants can be a game-changer in restoring your smile and enhancing your dental health. 

If you are searching for an ‘oral surgeon in Boulder’ or an ‘oral surgeon near me,’ we can help. To book an appointment, call (303) 444-2255 or complete the online booking form. 

Frequently Asked Questions Post-Tooth Extraction

How long does pain typically last after a tooth extraction?

Generally, pain and discomfort are most noticeable in the first few days post-extraction and should gradually subside within 3-5 days. If pain persists or worsens, it’s important to consult your oral surgeon.

Can I brush my teeth as usual after an extraction?

You should avoid brushing directly at the extraction site for the first 24 hours. After that, gently brush around the area, being careful not to disturb the clot that forms in the socket.

When can I start eating normal food again?

Start with soft foods and gradually reintroduce harder foods as your comfort allows, usually over a period of one to two weeks.

What are the signs of infection I should watch out for?

Signs of infection include increasing pain, swelling, fever, pus or an unpleasant taste, and persistent bleeding. Contact your surgeon right away if you experience any of these symptoms.

Is it normal to have a bad taste in my mouth after extraction?

A slight bad taste can be normal immediately following an extraction, but if it persists or is accompanied by pain and swelling, it could be a sign of infection.

How do I know if I have a dry socket?

A dry socket typically presents as a throbbing pain a few days after the extraction, possibly with a visible empty socket and an absence of a blood clot. Contact your surgeon if you suspect a dry socket.

Can I exercise after having a tooth extracted?

It’s best to avoid vigorous exercise for at least 24-48 hours post-extraction to prevent bleeding and aid in the healing process.

When should I consider dental implants after an extraction?

The timeline for dental implants varies depending on individual cases. We typically discuss implant options during your follow-up visits as your mouth heals. For more information, read Understanding the Tooth Extraction and Implant Timeline.

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