Overall, there isn't much risk associated with tooth extractions, but as with any medical procedure, there is always the chance of complications. With tooth extraction, complications may include delayed healing, infection, numbness of the mouth and dry sockets. With a dry socket, the protective blood clot that forms over the extraction site either dissolves or moves, which leaves the tooth socket (or bone) exposed to everything you put in your mouth, and can be extremely painful [source: WebMD]. Dry sockets are treated with pain relievers, rinses or other treatments from your dentist.
There is a standard after-care regimen for patients who have teeth extracted. Dr. Rosenberg recommends that patients gently bite down on gauze to stop any bleeding post-surgery and then begin saltwater rinses the day after extraction. He also advises patients to continuing rinsing after each meal for a week or two after surgery, which will kill bacteria and flush any food debris that may get stuck in the extraction site. Antibiotics and pain medicine may also be given if the person needs it; otherwise, it's just a matter of time for the body to heal itself.
Other things you can to do make sure your mouth heals properly include [source: ADA]:
- Eat soft foods and liquids such as soup, gelatin, oatmeal and pudding for a couple of days. This will allow the site to heal without traumatizing the extraction site through biting or chewing.
- Avoid smoking and using straws (sucking in air can be painful to the wound and lead to dry sockets).
- Gently brush your teeth, and avoid directly brushing the healing socket until you feel the area is strong enough for full pressure.
- American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). "What is a Periodontist?" (Sept. 29, 2011) http://www.perio.org/consumer/periodontist2.htm
- American Dental Association (ADA). "Tooth Extraction." (Sept. 8, 2011) http://www.ada.org/2926.aspx
- Colgate. "Tooth Extraction." (Sept. 20, 2011) http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-and-Dental-Procedures/Tooth-Removal-Extraction/article/Tooth-Extraction.cvsp
- Edmonds, Molly. "Are people without wisdom teeth more highly evolved?" (Sept. 29, 2011) https://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/parts/no-wisdom-teeth2.htm
- Rosenberg, Jeremy, D.D.S. Dentist in Atlanta, Ga. Personal correspondence. Sept. 18, 2011.
- WebMD. "An Overview of Dry Socket." (Sept. 29, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dry-socket-symptoms-and-treatment
- WebMD. "Dental Health and Wisdom Teeth." (Sept. 29, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/wisdom-teeth
- WebMD. "Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)" (Sept. 29, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gingivitis-periodontal-disease
- WebMD. "Tooth Extraction." (Sept. 29, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tooth-extraction