Can You Use Mouthwash After Tooth Extraction

Can You Use Mouthwash After Tooth Extraction

Can You Use Mouthwash After Tooth Extraction

Keeping your mouth clean after having your tooth extracted is crucial to prevent the spread of bacteria which can cause infections in the empty socket. However, brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash should be done with caution, as they can disturb the blood clot which is helping your wound heal.

Let’s look at how you can effectively maintain good oral hygiene after tooth extraction and when it’s ok to start using mouthwash.

How to Clean Your Mouth After a Tooth Extraction

How to Clean Your Mouth After a Tooth Extraction

Whether you’ve had a routine tooth extraction for something like an impacted wisdom tooth or you’ve had to arrange an emergency tooth extraction due to breaking a tooth, sudden unbearable toothache or a tooth infection (known as an abscess), you need to know how to clean your mouth safely after the procedure.

What you can do to keep your mouth clean, and what you can and can’t eat, changes according to how well your socket is healing, so there is general advice to follow for the first 24 hours after your procedure which then changes for the following 7 days.

What to Do in the First 24 Hours

For the first 3 hours following your tooth extraction, you should not eat or drink anything, take painkillers or attempt to clean your mouth in any way. This time is crucial for the blood clot to form, to cover the socket and protect it from bacteria or food particles entering, and encourage the nerve endings to regrow for a healthy gum.

After three hours, you’re encouraged to take painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen to prevent pain as the local anaesthetic wears off, to reduce the swelling and allow you to carry on in relative comfort. You should eat very soft, lukewarm, nutritious foods to not disturb the socket, allow you to eat comfortably and help the gum heal quickly.

However, for the first 24 hours, you should not clean your mouth. It may feel strange to go to bed without brushing your teeth, but it’s integral for your gum to heal to not disturb the socket. The action of spitting after using mouthwash or brushing your teeth will cause the blood clot to dislodge, leaving the socket uncovered and susceptible to infections.

Can You Use Mouthwash After Tooth Extraction?

Can You Use Mouthwash After Tooth Extraction?

You should not use mouthwash for the first 24 hours after having your tooth extracted as it may disrupt the blood clot and prevent the wound from healing. After 24 hours, you may use a mouthwash to help keep your mouth clean and prevent bacteria from spreading, however, there are three things to be careful of:

  • Do not use mouthwash containing alcohol
  • Swill the mouthwash gently
  • Don’t spit it out forcefully, dribble the liquid out gently

Alcohol can dissolve the blood clot, so you shouldn’t use alcohol-based mouthwashes or drink alcohol for the first 7 days following your tooth extraction. Dentists will recommend certain mouthwashes or using a saline solution; to make a simple saline solution, mix one teaspoon of salt into a cup of boiled water until the salt is fully dissolved. Wait until the liquid has cooled down before gently swilling it around your mouth to kill the bacteria without disturbing the blood clot.

When you spit the mouthwash or saline solution, try not to spit too forcefully as this action can dislodge the blood clot and prevent safe and speedy healing. Allow the liquid to exit your mouth simply by opening your mouth over the sink and letting it dribble out. You can then do the same with water to remove the taste if you wish.

Maintaining Good Dental Hygiene After Your Tooth Extraction

Maintaining Good Dental Hygiene After Your Tooth Extraction

The most important thing to remember is to keep your mouth as clean as possible to prevent bacteria from breeding in your mouth and infecting the socket, causing an abscess and great pain in your jaw, which can even turn into ear pain and headaches.

However, as well as rinsing gently with mouthwash and brushing all of your teeth gently, being careful to avoid the socket, you should also watch what you eat and drink, as well as other habits.

  • Don’t do any intense exercise for the first 24 hours following your tooth extraction
  • Don’t smoke for at least 7 days following your tooth extraction
  • Don’t drink through a straw for at least 7 days following your tooth extraction
  • Don’t eat or drink anything too hot or too cold after your tooth extraction

Exercising intensely can cause too much blood flow to your gum causing it to bleed and preventing the wound from healing effectively. The chemicals in tobacco can also prevent the gum from healing properly, however, you should avoid smoking anything, from vapes and e-cigarettes to cigars and herbal cigarettes, as the action of smoking can also disturb the blood clot.

Like spitting, the action of smoking or drinking through a straw can remove the blood clot, leaving the wound open to infection and the nerve endings exposed, so these actions should be avoided until the socket has healed, approximately seven days.

What’s more, very hot or very cold food and drink can be painful to eat, causing toothache, but can also damage the blood clot, preventing healthy healing of your gums.

Foods to Avoid While Your Gum Heals

While you should avoid alcohol, fizzy drinks and fresh milk after your tooth extraction, you should also stick to lukewarm, soft foods for at least the first few days following your tooth extraction to allow for comfortable eating and effective healing.

Foods to avoid include:

  • Crunchy foods
  • Crumbly foods
  • Foods with seeds
  • Anything sharp such as crisps
  • Spicy foods

These can all disturb the healing process, be very painful to eat, and get stuck in the wound, so avoid them until your gum has healed. Instead, eat:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Boiled vegetables
  • Mashed potato
  • Soup
  • Anything soft, nutritious, and lukewarm

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Mouth Clean

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Mouth Clean

While complications are rare following dental procedures, it’s important to follow your dentist’s advice to prevent any issues with your gum after your tooth extraction, as they can be potentially very serious.

The most important thing after your tooth extraction is to maintain your blood clot, as this is the most effective tool for keeping your socket clean and enabling healthy and speedy healing of your gum. Once the tooth has been extracted, you’ll be given a wad of gauze to bite down on to encourage the blood flow to stop and a blood clot to form.

A blood clot is primarily made of a protein called fibrin and platelets which coagulate to form a more solid material to form a seal over a wound. On our skin, blood clots are scabs and form hard substances to prevent germs from entering the wound, while in our bodies and over our gums, blood clots are jelly-like reddish-brown substances that act in the same way. Without blood clots on our gums, the nerve endings in the socket are uncovered which can be excruciatingly painful, and bacteria are free to enter the open socket, known as a dry socket.

Dry sockets are then at risk of developing infections if bacteria enter, which can spread through the gum to other teeth and the jaw, and even into the blood causing sepsis which will require hospital treatment.

It’s, therefore, integral you maintain good oral hygiene following your tooth extraction for a quick and painless healing process.

What to Do if You Can’t Get a Dental Appointment

With a shortage of NHS dentists, it can be very difficult to get an initial appointment, let alone a tooth extraction. However, you shouldn’t give up or attempt to pull a tooth yourself as this cannot be done safely.

If you cannot get an NHS appointment and desperately need a tooth removed, you should pay to have your tooth extracted privately, to ensure a timely treatment and recovery period before the issue gets worse. In urgent situations, you can also have your tooth extracted in an emergency appointment on the NHS and privately, both of which will cost over £70.

Need a Dental Appointment? Contact Didsbury Dental Practice

For routine and emergency dental appointments in Manchester, contact Didsbury Dental Practice today!

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