After extraction of a tooth
Having a tooth out is the same as having an operation and, because of this, you must look after the area to speed healing and to reduce the risk of infection. Here are some pointers:
For the first 24 hours, try to avoid eating hot food, don’t smoke, don’t drink any alcohol and try not to disturb any blood clot which might have formed.
Don’t rinse your mouth for six hours after extraction. After that, rinse gently with warm salty water – half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of water is enough.
Brush your teeth as normal to keep your mouth as clean as possible.
You may feel some small pieces of bone work their way out of the socket – don’t worry, this is perfectly normal.
There may be some swelling and a bit of discomfort in the first two to three days. If you need to, take some ordinary painkillers. Aspirin SHOULD NOT be given to children under 16 years old
If you feel pain immediately after the tooth has been removed, it might be where the blood clot has broken down leaving an empty hole in the gum. This is called a ‘dry socket’ and will need to be looked at by your dentist. Simply go back and the dentist will pack the wound to ease your discomfort.
Your dentist may have given you some gauze to place onto the area where the tooth has been removed – if not, a clean cloth handkerchief will do just as well (but not a paper tissue). Roll it into a small firm pad large enough to fit over the gap (probably around 1 cm by 3 cm). Sit up and gently clear away any blood clots around the gap using the gauze or handkerchief. Put a clean pad over the gap (from tongue side to cheek side) and bite down on it firmly for 10 to 15 minutes.
Take the pad off and check whether the bleeding has stopped. If not, apply a fresh pad and contact us on 01506 652135
Trauma to teeth
Accidents happen, especially if you’re playing sports. If your teeth get knocked out, there is a chance that they can be put back in by a dentist. Simply follow these steps:
Hold the tooth by the part usually visible in the mouth, not by the root. Don’t scrub the tooth or place it in disinfectant.
If the tooth is clean, hold it by the white part (the bit that is usually visible) and, making sure it’s the right way round, gently push it back into its socket.
If the tooth is dirty, rinse it in milk or cold water before gently pushing it back into place.
Hold the tooth in place by biting on a handkerchief and go to the dentist immediately for advice.
If you can’t put the tooth back in, try this:
Place it in a cup of milk or, if not available, keep the tooth in the mouth between the cheeks and gums. Don’t let the tooth become dry and don’t put it in disinfectant.
Contact the practice on 01506 652135. If out of hours, call NHS DIRECT on 111 to find a dentist that is on call.
Dental abscesses can be painful but they can be treated relatively easily. A dental abscess is formed when the dental pulp in the middle of the tooth dies and the pulp chamber becomes infected. The build-up of pus can raise the tooth up within the socket, making it feel tender when you bite down.
Tooth abscesses can make your jaw ache and feel tender when you chew. If the abscess bursts, the pain may go, but you should still seek treatment. It’s important that you see your dentist to make sure the problem doesn’t come back. Your dentist will discuss with you the possibilities of placing a root filling in the tooth to prevent this from happening.
An abscess occurs when tooth decay is left untreated and the decay reaches the dental pulp (the inside of the tooth which holds the blood supply and the nerves), which then becomes infected and dies. The bacteria then spread into the root of the tooth to form an abscess. Avoiding treatment or putting it off may be one of the reasons for an abscess starting.
Dental abscesses are fairly easy to diagnose – for example, you may find that pain is worse if you are pressing or chewing on the affected tooth. If the pain is less easy to define, your dentist will tap the teeth to determine which one is tender. The dentist may use an x-ray as part of the diagnosis, although the early stages of an abscess may not show.
To be able to treat a tooth with an abscess your dentist will first need to deal with the infection. The dentist is likely to drain the abscess, then perform a procedure known as root canal. This involves putting in a root filling to block off the pulp and the nerve canal and this will stop the infection. If the infection from the abscess is severe, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics. Because the dentist will have had to drill into the tooth for the root canal treatment, they will then need to restore it with a normal filling or crown.
Mouth ulcers can be uncomfortable. They look similar to small blisters and can be caused by a tooth rubbing against the tongue or cheek, a lack of vitamin B12, anaemia or even stress. Treatment of ulcers is quite simple and they will usually heal within seven days. If they last for more than two weeks, you should go and see your dentist as they may be an early indication of something more serious.
If you have a mouth ulcer, you can help clear it up by using a special antiseptic mouthwash or pastilles. These are available from most pharmacies – just ask the pharmacist for advice.
Having a healthy diet can help prevent mouth ulcers and ensure you keep in good health generally. Remember to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. If you have an ulcer, avoid citrus fruits and tomatoes as the acid may aggravate it.
Smoking can have a massive effect on your mouth. Not only will it give you bad breath, it can reduce your ability to taste things, stain your teeth and, in some cases, cause mouth cancer.
Giving up smoking isn’t easy, so the best thing is never to start. Don’t be pressured by your friends to start. Whatever they say, it doesn’t look cool. And if you’re tempted, remember what an ashtray smells like, and ask yourself if you really want your breath, your hair and your clothes to smell like that. Ask your dentist for smoking cessation advice or click on the NHS Smokefree website.
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)
This is a condition that can be reversed. Chewing involves four muscles but if overused can become quite sore. It is common to confuse TMJ with ear ache and can be associated with headaches.
TMJ can be treated by yourself:
- Have a soft diet
- Cut food into small bits
- Use a blender – liquid diet such as smoothies and yoghurt
- Vegetable – mash up
- Meat – casseroles and stew rather than chewy steaks
- Soups and soft bread
- If you have a “click”, don’t play with it!
- When chewing food, try and chew on BOTH sides at the same time
- Be aware of clenching habits. This can be associated with stress.
- Avoid chewing gum
- Limit your mouth opening
- Prevent excessive mouth opening when yawning. If so, place fist underneath chin to limit this
- Keep joint warm especially during cold weather
- Gently massage the area around the jaw
- Jaw exercises help. Push tongue to roof of mouth and then slowly open and close 30 times
- Take pain killers – “pain worsens pain” as you will clench. Discuss with your dentist the best pain killer to take.
Coping with your new dentures
Wearing new dentures can be extremely difficult, particularly if your previous set were a number of years old, and it will take some effort on your part. To get used to your new dentures you need to wear them as much as possible but DO NOT wear them when sleeping (unless specifically advised by your dentist to do so). Do not expect too much too soon from your new dentures.
To begin with we advise that you cut your food into small pieces, and eat food that requires minimal chewing. You may find that food goes under the denture at first, but this should settle down. Try and chew on both sides at the same time.
Initially you may find it difficult or strange whilst speaking. This will usually improve within a few days.
You may experience a degree of discomfort when your dentures are fitted – this is quite normal and will usually settle down after a few days. If it does not, or you are experiencing a significant amount of discomfort then we recommend that you contact the practice for an appointment on 01506 652135. If you need to, please wear your old dentures to relieve the discomfort but we ask you to wear your new dentures for a day or two prior to attending your appointment as this will make the irritation easier to identify and solve.
Your new dentures may initially feel slack because the muscles of your tongue and mouth are not used to them. This will usually improve with time.
Cleaning your dentures
We advise that you brush your dentures under running water twice a day WITHOUT toothpaste, and once a week they should be soaked overnight in a branded denture cleaner such as Steradent. Some brands of cleaner are unsuitable for metal dentures – if in doubt please ask your dentist.