wisdom tooth extraction

Our Calgary Dentist Explains What To Expect After a Tooth Extraction.

Our Calgary Dentist Explains What To Expect After a Tooth Extraction.

For many people, the thought of having to have a tooth extracted by your Calgary dentist can cause significant anxiety. Although our Calgary dentist’s recommendation is to always keep a tooth rather than extract it if at all possible, there are circumstances where extraction of a tooth is the best and/or only solution.  If an extraction is recommended by your Calgary dentist, having as much information as possible about what to expect after your tooth extraction can help to relieve some of this anxiety. 

Circumstances where a tooth extraction may be recommended by your Calgary dentist include the following:

  • Where the decay in the tooth is so extensive that restoring the tooth is not feasible;
  • Where there has been trauma to the tooth and the tooth is not saveable;
  • Where extraction of the tooth is necessary to prepare for orthodontic work;
  • Where the tooth is a wisdom tooth and extraction is necessary because the tooth is impacted or partially impacted, or is causing crowding of its adjacent teeth or is causing pain or gum issues; and
  • In preparation for upper and/or lower dentures.

If an extraction is recommended by our Calgary dentist, then the goal is for the healing process after the tooth extraction to be as comfortable and complication free as possible.  As the extraction of a tooth is a surgical procedure, diligent and proper post-operative care is imperative to help reduce the risk of any complications.  Here are some tips from our Calgary dentist on how to care for your oral health after a tooth extraction. (Please Note: These tips are for informational purposes only.  Always follow the advice of your dentist or dental specialist following your oral surgery).

Immediately Following Your Tooth Extraction

After your extraction appointment, your Calgary dentist will likely provide you with some additional gauze pads to help stop any bleeding.  Keep the gauze pad placed over the surgical site by biting down over the surgical area.  You should change the gauze pad approximately every 30 minutes (or more often if required) until the bleeding stops.

If you are prescribed pain medication by your Calgary dentist, take it as directed. Your dentist may recommend that you take the medication prior to the local anaesthetic wearing off or as soon as you begin to feel discomfort.  You will most likely start to feel pain as soon as the local anesthetic starts to wear off.  Although sometimes it is necessary to prescribe pain medication, in our Calgary dentist practice, most patients find that an over-the-counter pain killer is sufficient to alleviate pain.

It is important that, after your dental extractions, you do not suck on a straw, spit or swish with fluids for at least several days.

If you are a smoker, you should try not to smoke after your tooth extraction for at least three days as smoking can hinder the healing process.

After your tooth extraction, our Calgary dentist recommends that you skip the gym for at least a couple of days as rest is an important element in your recovery.  If possible, try to refrain from strenuous physical activity for a day or two after your oral surgery.

To help with pain and swelling, place ice packs on the side of your face where the extraction site is for the first three days.  Use a schedule of 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off to avoid injury to your skin.


After your tooth extraction, you can expect a small amount of bleeding, which is normal for the first 24-48 hours.  If, however, you find that the bleeding persists or is excessive, you should always call your Calgary dentist for advice and possibly a follow-up visit.


Although not everyone experiences swelling after an extraction, it can occur.  According to our Calgary dentist, swelling can take up to three days to reach its maximum.  You may notice some swelling around your mouth, cheek, eyes, and side of your face.  To try to minimize swelling, when you lie down, make sure you elevate your head on pillows for the first few days. If your swelling persists or is excessive, call your Calgary dentist for a follow-up appointment to ensure that there is no infection or other issues present.

Dealing With Post-Operative Pain

After your surgery, most patients do experience some degree of pain.  Although pain is difficult to predict, many patients find that their post-operative pain is the most severe the first day after surgery, while others report that the pain is the worst on the second or third day after the tooth extraction.

To help you manager your pain effectively, it is beneficial to take your pain medication before the numbness from the local anaesthetic wears off.   After an oral surgery procedure such as a tooth extraction, mild to moderate pain is best managed with scheduled doses of over-the-counter pain relievers such as Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen (Tylenol and/or Advil).  You should always follow the directions on these medication packages.

If you are prescribed pain medication by your Calgary dentist, these drugs should only be used if needed and as directed (ie for pain that cannot be managed with over-the-counter medication). If your pain persists, it may require attention and you should contact your Calgary dentist office.

Stiffness in Face Muscles

After your extraction, you may also notice that your jaw is very sore and has limited opening.  This soreness could be from either the extraction procedure itself or from keeping your mouth open for a prolonged period of time during the procedure, or both.  To alleviate this soreness, our Calgary dentist recommends that you massage your cheek gently and exercise your jaw by opening and closing your mouth as much as you can, several times per day.   You can also apply moist heat compresses which can help to alleviate this stiffness.

You may also find that you will experience aching from other adjacent teeth.  According to our Calgary dentist, this discomfort is caused by referred pain and is a temporary condition.

Bruising and Fever

After your tooth extraction, it is not unusual to develop bruising in the area of the extraction(s). You may even experience a slight elevation in temperature for 24-48 hours.   If your fever persists, you should always contact your dentist office for further advice and instructions.


If you have been placed on antibiotics by your Calgary dentist, take as directed.  As with any medication, you should always ask your pharmacist or dentist about any potential side effects as well as any possible interactions with any other drugs you may be taking, including birth control pills.

Nausea and Vomiting

Some patients also experience nausea and/or vomiting after a tooth extraction, especially if they also underwent sedation dentistry.  To help alleviate nausea, try ginger-ale or soda crackers.  Some patients also find that Gravol tablets are helpful.  This medication may be purchased without a prescription from your Calgary dentist.  As with any medication, always follow the instructions on the packaging.

Oral Hygiene

After your tooth extraction appointment with your Calgary dentist, it is imperative that you maintain proper oral hygiene to reduce the risk of infection or complications.

During the rest of the day after your dental extraction, you should refrain from rinsing your mouth, brushing your teeth, spitting, or swishing. The following day, you may begin to gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water) or mouth rinse prescribed by your Calgary dentist.  You should be gently rising several times per day and following every meal.  You may also start to gently brush your teeth using toothpaste.  When brushing your teeth, make sure you do so very gently and avoid the surgical site(s) as well as the adjacent teeth for one to two weeks.  If your Calgary dentist gave you a Monoject syringe to help you to rinse your mouth, use it as directed by your dental team.


Upon arrival at home after your tooth extraction, it is important that you stay hydrated. At this time, you can go ahead and drink clear fluids.  You may find that fluids at room temperature are the most comfortable to drink.  According to our Calgary dentist, soft foods may be started if you can tolerate them, such as fresh pasta, scrambled eggs, smoothies, soups and yogurt.

For the first three days to one week after your tooth extraction, it is important that you try to avoid sucking on a straw.  For the first few days after surgery, our Calgary dentist also recommends that, in order to avoid any trauma to the surgical site, you restrict your diet to soft foods and liquids.

Dry Socket

A “dry socket” usually begins around the third or fourth day after your surgery.  This painful condition occurs as a result of the loss of the blood clot in the socket.  A dry socket may cause the healing at the tooth extraction site to be delayed.  You may experience pain symptoms in your adjacent teeth, jaw, and even in your ear and chin from a dry socket.   Although not everyone experiences this painful condition, its cause can be attributed to factors such as being older, the difficulty of the surgery, using tobacco products and also the medications you may be taking. Please call our Calgary dentist office if you believe you have a dry socket.

Although our Calgary dentist always recommends trying to save your tooth, sometimes there is no choice but to proceed with a tooth extraction.  Making sure that you prioritize your dental health can often help to avoid the necessity of a tooth extraction, including by having a regular at home oral care routine, eating a healthy diet, avoiding trauma to your teeth by wearing a mouth or sports guard and by seeing your Calgary dentist and dental hygienist twice per year for regular dental examinations and cleanings. 

If you have any questions for our Calgary dentist about tooth extractions or any other type of dentistry including cosmetic dentistry, sedation dentistry, implant dentistry or general dentistry, please call our dental clinic located in the beautiful community of Kensington/Sunnyside/Hillhurst in NW Calgary.  Our Calgary dentist and dental team are here for you.  Let’s make your smile last a lifetime!

This blog post written by our Calgary dentist, Dr. Dirk Thompson, D.D.S., is for informational purposes only.  It is not to be taken or used as a substitute for dental, medical or other professional advice, treatment or diagnosis.  Always ask your dentist, physician or other healthcare professional for advice before altering your diet or healthcare routine.  Individual patient needs and oral healthcare concerns vary so please consult your dentist for more information about your specific dental health requirements.

Copyright 2021: Dirk A. Thompson Professional Corporation operating as Advance Your Health Dental.  Dr. Dirk A. Thompson, D.D.S., is a general dentist in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Kensington/Sunnyside/Hillhurst).


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