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Understanding Tooth Extraction Pain: Causes and Solutions

“I have some tooth pain following a tooth extraction a couple of days ago. What is a normal amount of […]
Tooth Extraction Brisbane

“I have some tooth pain following a tooth extraction a couple of days ago. What is a normal amount of pain after an extraction and what is the expected healing time?

– Question from William from Zillmere, Brisbane

Dr Darryl Marsh replies:

Dr. Darryl Marsh is the founding dentist at Today's Dentistry in Brisbane.After having a tooth extracted, some discomfort is unavoidable; the amount varies from person to person.

The degree of pain will depend on three factors:

  1. The amount of damage to the tissue needed to remove the tooth. Our approach is to perform treatments gently and with minimal trauma. Research shows that patients tend to have less pain after this kind of surgery.
  2. The amount of infection at the start matters. If you let an infection get worse, causing inflammation, pus, and damage to the bone, you'll likely experience more pain and have a harder time healing. This is true even if your surgeon is cautious or uses antibiotics.
  3. The patient: Since everyone's pain tolerance is different, and some people can handle pain better than others, similar to how some women can give birth naturally while others find it challenging.

Reducing discomfort when having a tooth extracted

Nowadays, dental procedures like tooth extractions don't have to be painful. The local anaesthetics we use, especially newer ones like Articaine, are stronger and last longer. With these advancements, there's no need for anyone to feel pain during a dental visit.

Today, we use modern pain medication along with care filled with kindness, taking it slow and gentle. We also provide modern comforts like DVD players, noise-cancelling headphones, and comfy blankets to help patients relax.

Managing pain after tooth extraction

One of the things that we have also found to be most helpful is a mixture that one of our oral surgeon colleagues has developed. It’s a combination of an antiseptic, chlorhexidine, and vitamins and minerals and, applied to the tissues after extraction. We have found it to be effective in aiding tissues to heal and minimising pain afterwards. We believe it also reduces post-extraction problems with dry sockets and allows wounds to heal quickly with the minimum of pain and swelling.

Here are five home remedies to alleviate discomfort and gum pain after having a tooth extraction.

  1. Oral Painkillers
    Following your tooth removal, you may be prescribed pain medication. Taking these as advised can ease your recovery. Additionally, over-the-counter options like ibuprofen or paracetamol are effective in managing pain. These help by reducing inflammation and easing pain.Most people find paracetamol enough, but I often recommend using ibuprofen along with paracetamol because it works better together. Usually, this pain relief is only needed for 24 hours, but sometimes it might be necessary for up to 72 hours. The type of extraction and the patient's needs are the key factors.We always let our patients know roughly how long they can expect to feel some pain after the extraction and give them guidance on how to handle it.
  2. Apply Ice to Reduce Swelling
    Swelling might occur as your immune system responds to the surgery. Placing an ice pack on your cheek over the affected area for short periods can help.
  3. Carefully Maintain the Extraction Site
    After extraction, blood clots form as part of the healing process to stop bleeding, prevent infection, and minimise irritation. It's crucial to follow your dentist's aftercare instructions to protect the clot, which include:

    • Replacing the gauze pad as required
    • Gently brushing your teeth, avoiding the extraction area for a few days
    • Using a chlorhexidine mouthwash as an alternative to brushing
    • Rinsing with a saltwater solution
  4. Consume Soft Foods
    Eating soft foods helps prevent irritation at the extraction site. Avoid hard, crunchy, or spicy foods. Recommended soft foods include: yoghurt, jelly, smoothies, mashed vegetables etc. You can introduce other soft foods like cooked vegetables or rice after a few days.
  5. Steer Clear of Certain Activities
    To avoid pain and protect the healing site, certain activities should be avoided after tooth extraction. These include:

    • Strenuous exercise
    • Using straws (which involve sucking actions) or smoking
    • Touching the wound with your tongue
    • Spitting or blowing your nose, as these actions could disrupt the healing process

At what point does dental pain become abnormal?

If you still have pain three days later, it could mean more problems. When the clot forming at the tooth's root comes out, the socket gets dry. If you have a dry socket, you'll feel pain between days three and four.

There are several possible causes of a dry socket:

  • An increase in blood pressure: Exercise, such as running, can cause a rise in blood pressure that can force the clot out and cause it to bleed once more.
  • Smoking: The most frequent reason is smoking, since it will cause the clot to dissolve.
  • Rinsing and cleaning the clot: I've heard of patients flushing out an area with a syringe or cleaning a wound rapidly like there's no tomorrow. Although they are merely flushing away the blood clot, they may believe that they are cleansing the wound and removing all of the food.

What to do if you believe the pain in your teeth is not natural

We encourage our patients to reach out and visit us if the pain gets worse, becomes more intense, or makes you uneasy. It's best for everyone, and we'd rather check than have someone suffer at home. If this is your situation, call the dentist who did the extraction and let them know what's happening.

Do many people have dental extraction anxiety?

Many of the patients we encounter become extremely anxious about the thought of having a root canal or extraction. The two main causes of fear in people are:

  1. They've previously experienced a negative encounter.
  2. If the tooth extraction was not done properly, such as when it was done by a professional instead of someone attempting it themselves.

If a patient shares a previous difficult tooth extraction experience, even if the current one seems simple, I usually recommend seeing a specialist. This is to avoid any unpleasant surprises and ensure a smooth process. I want to make sure everyone has a positive experience when there's an easy solution, especially in unforeseen situations.



“Is tooth pain normal after an extraction?” 

Answer: Yes, it's normal to feel some pain after a tooth extraction, but it usually gets better within a few days.

“How long should I rinse with salt water after a tooth extraction?”

Answer: You should rinse with salt water for about 30 seconds, three to four times a day, after a tooth extraction.

“How to relieve pain after tooth extraction?”

Answer: To ease pain after getting a tooth pulled, follow your dentist's pain medication instructions, use a cold compress, and maintain good oral hygiene.

“Is pain normal after tooth extraction?”

Answer: Certainly, experiencing some degree of pain is a common and expected occurrence after undergoing a tooth extraction.

“Are there any warning signs of complications related to post-extraction soreness?”

Answer: If you notice ongoing bleeding, swelling, increased pain, or any unusual symptoms, it's crucial to seek immediate dental help for further assessment and guidance.

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