An infection after a tooth extraction is pretty common. Why? Because our mouths are home to countless tiny bacteria that are alive and well before and after our procedure. If you’re scheduled to have a tooth pulled, make sure you practice the proper aftercare to avoid an infection. 

Why do you need a tooth extraction?

At some point, your dentist may tell you you need one (or more) of your teeth extracted. An extraction occurs for a number of reasons. It’s likely you have a badly damaged tooth or a decaying tooth that needs to be removed. When a tooth is significantly decayed, the damage may extend to the pulp of the tooth and cause an infection. If not removed, this infection may lead to a root canal. 

Extractions are also common among those with crowded mouths with limited space for teeth to grow. An overcrowded mouth can lead to malalignment and shifting teeth. To avoid these problems, you may need a few teeth pulled. 

How to avoid infection after tooth extraction

Like most things, there are health risks tied to tooth extractions. Perhaps the biggest one you want to avoid is an infection after your tooth extraction. If you want to ensure a healthy, infection-free recovery, follow these extraction after-care tips: 

  • Bite down on your gauze: Your doctor will place gauze over the affected area. When you bite down on the gauze, you’re aiding in the formation of a blood clot. You want (and need) a blood clot to form to save you from a dry socket. 
  • Mindful brushing: Brush and floss regularly but do not brush the affected area. Leave it to heal. 
  • Things to avoid: Avoid spitting, straws, sucking, and smoking for at least 24 hours post-procedure.
  • Medication: Take your prescribed medication to lessen your chances of infection (and make sure to not take them on an empty stomach!).
  • Rinse: After 24 hours, you should be able to do a saltwater rinse. This will clean out the affected area without agitating it.
  • Eating: Eat soft foods. Yogurt and pudding are great options for the first 24-48 hours. Typically, you should avoid foods that are difficult to chew.

And, above all, do what your doctor tells you. You may have specific instructions unique to your procedure. Follow them! It could save you from possible infection and more pain down the line. 

What happens if I get an infection?

So.. you got an infection after tooth extraction. Now what?

This could be because you already had an oral infection before the procedure, or maybe you didn’t follow the doctor’s orders after the extraction. Either way, you should see your doctor immediately if you feel you have an infection post-procedure. Leaving the infected area untreated could spread the infection to other parts of your mouth and make the infection worse.