The First Week After Dental Extraction

September 12, 2023, Shane Smith DDS

Demonstration of tooth extraction with a model.
Demonstration of tooth extraction with a model.
What to expect and how to insure a speedy recover after a tooth extraction.


Dental extractions are common procedures performed by dentists to remove damaged or problematic teeth. Whether it's due to severe decay, infection, or orthodontic reasons, understanding what to expect during the first week after a dental extraction is crucial for a smooth and comfortable recovery. In this article, we'll explore the typical timeline of post-extraction healing, discuss common symptoms, and provide practical tips on how to promote a swift and complication-free recovery.

Day 1: Immediately After Extraction

The first 24 hours after a dental extraction are critical. Here's what you can expect during this initial period:

Bleeding: It's normal to experience some bleeding immediately after the extraction. Your dentist will provide you with gauze to bite down on to help control bleeding. Change the gauze as needed, and remember that some oozing is normal for the first few hours.

Swelling: Swelling in the extraction area is common. Applying an ice pack to the affected area for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off during the first day can help reduce swelling.

Pain: You may experience some pain or discomfort. Your dentist will likely prescribe pain medication, which you should take as directed. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help.

Rest: It's important to rest and take it easy on the first day. Avoid strenuous activities, and try to keep your head elevated when lying down to minimize swelling.

Day 2-3: Continuing Recovery

As you move into the second and third days following the extraction, you may notice changes in your condition:

Reduced Swelling: Swelling typically peaks within 48 hours after the extraction and then gradually begins to subside.

Pain Management: Continue taking any prescribed pain medication as directed. If the pain persists or worsens, contact your dentist.

Diet: Stick to a soft diet during this time. Avoid hard, crunchy, or spicy foods that could irritate the extraction site.

Oral Hygiene: Gently rinse your mouth with warm saltwater after meals to keep the area clean. Avoid vigorous rinsing or using mouthwash for the first few days.

Day 4-7: Towards Full Recovery

The latter half of the first week is marked by significant improvements:

Less Pain: Most patients experience a noticeable decrease in pain and discomfort by day four or five. However, continue taking pain medication as needed.

Healing: The extraction site will begin to heal. You may notice a white or yellowish tissue forming in the socket; this is a sign of normal healing.

Stitches: If your extraction required stitches, your dentist will typically remove them around the one-week mark.

Dietary Changes: You can start incorporating more solid foods into your diet, but still, be cautious with crunchy or hard items. Maintain a soft-food diet until you're more comfortable.

Oral Hygiene: Gentle brushing around the extraction site is important to prevent infection. Be careful not to disturb the healing tissue.

Preventing Complications

To ensure a smooth recovery, here are some important guidelines to follow:

Follow Dentist's Instructions: Always adhere to the post-extraction care instructions provided by your dentist.

Avoid Smoking and Alcohol: Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol during the initial recovery phase, as they can delay healing and increase the risk of complications.

Hydration: Stay well-hydrated but avoid using straws, as the suction motion can dislodge blood clots and hinder healing.

Monitor for Signs of Infection: Keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as increased pain, swelling, redness, or a foul taste in your mouth. If you suspect an infection, contact your dentist promptly.


The first week after a dental extraction is a critical period for recovery. While some discomfort and swelling are normal, following your dentist's recommendations and practicing good oral hygiene can help ensure a successful healing process. If you have any concerns or experience unusual symptoms during this time, do not hesitate to reach out to your dentist for guidance and reassurance. Remember that everyone's healing process is unique, so it's essential to be patient and give your body the time it needs to recover fully.

Shane Smith DDS provides expert dental care in Jonesboro, AR.


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