The amount of pain that a patient may experience during a tooth extraction often depends on the type and size of the tooth that needs to be removed.
“After removing a big molar, it’ll be more sore than a smaller premolar or incisor,” says our dentist Dr Tharaka Narayana.
Other factors include the difficulty of the extraction:
- Whether gum and bone need to be removed
- How loose the tooth was to begin with
- How much support there was
- If there’s any pre-existing infection
We’ll do a thorough assessment first
Post-operative pain that may be experienced depends on the complexity of the tooth extraction, so we plan it well to make sure it’s within our scope and can be done in our practice.
When we’ll refer you to our specialist
Some patients will require more complex tooth extractions involving:
- Sectioning a tooth (splitting it into parts so it can be more easily removed)
- Gum removal
- Removing some of the bone around the tooth that holds the tooth in
As general dentists, Dr Renee Ashby and I aren’t equipped to perform some of the more complex tooth extractions in the practice, so we’ll refer the patient to a specialist oral surgeon who has the equipment and anaesthetic to do it safely, as well as give pain relief afterwards.
How we minimise tooth extraction pain during the procedure
Pain relief medication
For any dental procedure that could involve some pain – whether it’s a tooth extraction or a complex filling – it helps if the patient has some pain relief medication in their system about an hour or two before they come in. Try:
Local anaesthetic and sedation
Both my surgery and Dr Renee Ashby’s surgery are fully equipped for:
- High-quality local anaesthetic – so your procedure is as pain free as possible
- A wide range of other sedatives including laughing gas (nitrous oxide) – while it doesn’t reduce pain, it may help you relax
What to expect during an extraction in the chair
We’ll talk you through the procedure beforehand, so you know what to expect – you shouldn’t feel any pain at all.
During the extraction, you’ll feel pressure and movement. Not pulling – more a pushing and wriggling sensation.
We’ll describe these things as best as possible and what to expect, so you’ll know what’s normal.
What’s a normal amount of pain straight after?
Here in the chair
You’ll feel some mild to moderate discomfort.
Depending on how much local anaesthetic was used, you’ll get feeling back in that area within two to three hours.
Once the anaesthetic wears off, the pain shouldn’t be major – nothing that pain relief medication like Panadol or Nurofen can’t control, and provided there isn’t a complication like a dry socket.
We advise beginning your Panadol or Nurofen while you’re still numb. Don’t wait for the local anaesthetic to wear off and get sore. Take your medication soon after the procedure because you want the Panadol firing away when the anaesthetic wears off.
After a more complex surgical extraction
If a patient needs some minor surgery like removing gum or bone, it can get very uncomfortable afterwards. Your specialist oral surgeon will manage your tooth extraction pain.
Can I use healing aids like heated wheat bags?
Immediately afterwards, you don’t want to put heat on the area because you want to stop any excessive bleeding.
If anything, you want cold rather than heat. It all depends on your case and post-operative instructions will be provided to you.
What about tooth extraction pain a few days later?
When there’s inflammation, it can get worse for two to three days before it gets better.
Expect that for the first three to four days after an extraction, it’s going to be sore and swollen.
Everyone’s pain threshold is different: some people don’t need much pain relief medication, but if you do, keep up your medication regularly. Don’t be a hero!
When can I eat on that area again?
Avoid eating on that side for as long as possible because often it takes a week or two for the gum to heal. You don’t want food getting into the socket and causing an infection.
When is post-operative pain not normal?
After a week or so later, you should be OK. The pain should decrease over time; not stay the same or increase.
If you’re still in a severe amount of pain, you could have developed either:
- Some residual infection
- A dry socket
Do you feel?
Really sore, sharp pain where your tooth was pulled out?