I’m Having a Tooth Pulled. How Can I Speed Up the Healing Process?

Did you know that you have some control over how quickly your mouth heals after a tooth extraction?  There are several ways to support and improve the healing process, which will help you heal more quickly.  Read this week’s blog to learn how you can influence your body’s healing for the next time you or a loved one are facing a tooth extraction.

How Does the Body Heal from a Tooth Extraction?

Healing from a tooth extraction generally occurs in two phases.  The initial phase of healing involves the closure of the gum tissue over the extraction socket.  The socket is the hole left in the jawbone after the roots of teeth have been removed.  On average, it takes two to three weeks for the gum tissues to slowly grow together and cover this hole.  During those two to three weeks, it is important to keep the socket free of debris because food and plaque will tend to collect in the hole.

The second phase of healing occurs underneath the closed gum tissues, and it involves the jawbone filling in the empty socket with new bone growth.  This takes much longer, and it occurs slowly over about six months.

What Factors Influence Healing from a Tooth Extraction?

In order to heal well from any type of injury or surgery, you must have good overall health.  In order to heal well from a tooth extraction, you must also have good oral health.

Overall Health

Your overall health affects your body’s ability to heal because healing requires a strong immune system.  Your immune system fights infection as the tissue at the surgical site prompts new growth.

If your overall health is not good, your immune system is less capable of promoting healing in the surgical site.  Certain health conditions, like diabetes, delay wound healing by impairing the blood flow to various areas of the body.  When medical problems are not under control, they have a negative impact on healing.

Oral Health

Your oral health also has an effect on the ability to heal from a tooth extraction.  Healthy gum tissues are necessary for quick coverage of a recent extraction socket.  When the mouth has heavy buildup of plaque and tartar, we call it a high bacterial load.  This bacterial load leads to inflammation, which slows down the healing process.

Measures to Take Before the Extraction

If you have a tooth extraction planned in the near future, these are the steps you can take now to improve your ability to heal.

Stabilize other Health Conditions

In order to improve your immune system for faster healing, you must work to control and stabilize other health conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and inflammation.  This may involve working with your medical doctor to fine-tune prescription medications.  It will definitely involve making healthy dietary choices and exercising at the appropriate level for your ability.

For diabetics, this means achieving and maintaining a healthy A1C level for two weeks prior to surgery and at least two weeks after surgery.

Clean Up Your Mouth

We can also improve our body’s ability to heal by improving oral health.  Cleaning up your mouth through great oral hygiene and professional teeth cleanings will reduce your mouth’s bacterial load and inflammation.  This helps your gum tissues heal as quickly as possible.

Those with active dental diseases, like large cavities and gum disease, should have the necessary dental treatments to repair them prior to oral surgery.

Measures to Take After the Extraction

After your dentist removes the tooth, you must be diligent to promote good healing.

Follow Post-Operative Instructions to the Letter

Your dentist will provide you with both verbal and written post-operative instructions when you have a tooth pulled.  Following these instructions as closely as possible will help you reduce your risk for complications and heal quickly.

In general, after any tooth extraction, patients need to avoid alcohol, carbonated drinks, smoking, and drinking through straws.  They should also eat soft foods for the first three to five days.  Your dentist will give you specific instructions that apply to your unique situation as well.  Make sure to understand and follow these instructions for the best and quickest healing.

Drink Plenty of Water

Dehydration following a tooth extraction is common.  Saliva is an essential part of oral health, and your body cannot produce adequate amounts of saliva if you are dehydrated.  Many people avoid drinking water after an extraction due to the presence of the open socket.  You must maintain a great level of hydration to fight inflammation and promote healing.

Avoid Sugar

Maintaining a healthy diet is essential to good overall health.  Most people know that diabetic patients must avoid sugar and control their sugar levels closely.  A lesser-known fact is that sugar actually feeds inflammation in healthy patients as well.

In order to fight inflammation and promote healing, you should eat a low-sugar or zero-sugar diet!

More Questions about Healing from Tooth Extractions?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer any question you have about extractions and help you understand your role in the healing process.


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