Whether it was a planned procedure or an emergency tooth pulling, having a tooth removed is a pretty big deal. While technology has come a long way in making it a fairly painless process, your mouth will still need time to heal and how you care for it afterward will go a long way in helping that healing along.
Unfortunately, that might mean you wake up with a nice cup of lemon water and some yoga instead of your standard cup of coffee for a few days. Coffee might be a standard part of your day, but for a few days after the tooth extraction, your mug will need to stay on the shelf.
This isn’t just because the dentist is trying to prolong the torture. Here are a couple of good reasons to skip the Starbucks drive-through:
Our bodies are remarkable. They start healing immediately. One of the ways your body will heal is to create a blood clot in the spot left behind by the pulled tooth. This blood clot is crucial in the healing process and we want it to stick around.
The hot temperature of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) can soften that clot or even wash it away. This can lead to what is known as “dry socket.” Dry socket means the clot leaves the bones and nerves exposed at the root of the pulled tooth. It can be as painful as it sounds. It’s worth skipping a few cups of joe to avoid that.
The other main reason coffee is ill-advised after an extraction is caffeine. While caffeine might give you a boost in the morning, it can also be irritating to your teeth and gums, and that’s not what you need right now. You’ll want your mouth to be happy and healing. Coffee isn’t the only caffeine culprit–watch out for soda or energy drinks as well.
What Else is Off Limits?
While your tooth might be gone forever, the list of things to avoid won’t last nearly that long. There are just a few things to avoid for two to three days after an extraction procedure.
Straws are a big no-no right after getting a tooth pulled. Drinking from a straw creates suction in the mouth which can loosen that important clot. We want that clot to stay right where it is.
Alcohol is another beverage to avoid in the days after your extraction. Alcohol can also irritate your gums, but the real risk is drying out. Alcohol can dry out your mouth, and saliva helps everything heal quickly and completely.
So, What CAN You Do?
The good news is that the list of things that are good for healing is longer than the list that’s off-limits.
Break out the soup, pudding, and ice cream. Have your kitchen stocked with some easy meals and snacks that will be comfortable to eat and delicious. Don’t let the soup get too hot, but enjoy some delicious, warm, soothing soup after the procedure. There is plenty of delicious comfort food that will go down easily. Just don’t use a straw with that milkshake or smoothie.
Water. . .and lots of it!
Water is the very best thing you can drink. You want to avoid letting your mouth dry out. After the first twenty-four hours, it will also be helpful to gently rinse your mouth with saltwater. This will speed the healing, even if it doesn’t taste great. Just imagine you’re at the beach.
Healthy Foods. . . and lots of them!
You are what you eat and healthy food will help you heal more quickly. Oatmeal is soft and full of fiber. Fruit smoothies are healthy and refreshing–just avoid using fruits with lots of seeds. The last thing you need is getting a raspberry seed stuck in that new hole in the back of your mouth. Potatoes are another great option, especially mashed. Steaming vegetables will make them softer and keep them bright and healthy for your body as it heals up.
Brush and Floss (Carefully)
Sometimes, as in the case of wisdom teeth, tooth extraction is just a part of preventive dental care. But, some extractions could have been avoided. Once you’ve had a tooth pulled, you probably won’t be chomping at the bit to do it again. So, if your tooth extraction was due to preventable issues, this is a great time to be more vigilant about your dental habits.
Keep brushing and flossing as your mouth heels. Just be very careful around the area of the pulled tooth. Don’t floss near it and be extra gentle with the toothbrush as you get close. Brush, floss, and rinse every day and keep the rest of those teeth in tip-top shape.
Getting a tooth pulled probably isn’t the most fun thing you’ll ever do. And if you rely heavily on caffeine to get through your day, try to schedule your appointment on a day where you can take it easy for a few days. Coffee isn’t worth the risk and delay in healing. Give your body time to do its job and you’ll be healed up in no time.