Having a tooth pulled may sound like it would hurt. But the truth is that modern dental technology, combined with dental sedation methods, means that the vast majority of dental patients experience little or no discomfort whatsoever during the extraction procedure. It is common, however, to feel some pain afterward, during the healing process. Fortunately, there are several ways to manage that discomfort as well. In this article, we explore the various ways to stop tooth extraction pain for patients from in and around the Austin, Texas area.
Managing Pain During the Extraction Process
Your dentist or oral surgeon has a variety of methods to choose from to help you relax and feel no pain whatsoever during the extraction process. Here are some of the ways that pain can be managed during the procedure.
- Novocaine – If you’ve ever had any type of dental procedure done – whether an extraction, a filling, a crown, or anything else – you’ve probably been thankful for novocaine! This highly effective local anesthetic numbs the area of your mouth where the dental procedure will be done. Thanks to novocaine, you won’t feel any pain during the extraction process.
- Nitrous oxide – Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a mild form of sedation that is administered in the form of a gas, immediately before the procedure. While laughing gas doesn’t directly affect whether or not you’ll feel any discomfort during the extraction procedure, this and other forms of sedation will help to relax you and make you feel more comfortable while you’re in the dentist’s chair. Just as the name implies, patients normally feel a little giddy after breathing in laughing gas. The effects begin right away and usually dissipate very shortly after the procedure is complete, so you should be able to drive yourself home afterward. Nitrous oxide is typically appropriate for patients with mild anxiety.
- Oral sedation – If you have a little more anxiety about the extraction procedure, your dentist may prescribe some form of oral sedation. This will consist of a pill that you can take prior to arriving at the dentist’s office. Although you’ll remain completely conscious during the procedure, oral sedation will make you feel a little drowsy, and you may not remember every detail of the extraction process afterward. This form of sedation is slower to wear off, so you’ll need a ride both to the appointment and home afterward as well.
- IV sedation – Patients with a high level of anxiety might need some form of IV sedation in order to feel at ease during the extraction procedure. This type of sedative is administered via IV in the dentist’s office just before the procedure begins. It’s the strongest form of sedation available, so although you’ll remain conscious throughout your visit, you probably won’t remember much of what happens during the extraction procedure. This type of sedation is also slow to wear off, so you’ll need a ride home afterward.
- General anesthesia – If your extraction will be complicated and/or long in duration, your dentist might recommend general anesthesia. Usually reserved for oral surgeries, general anesthesia will render you completely unconscious while undergoing the procedure. If you need this type of sedation, your dentist will probably have an anesthesiologist present to administer the sedative and monitor your condition throughout. Of course, you’ll need a ride after the extraction is complete, and you should have someone stay with you at home while you recover from the anesthesia.
Managing Pain After the Extraction Process
Thanks to modern dental techniques, as well the various forms of sedation and anesthesia available to dental patients, most people feel absolutely no pain or even discomfort when having a tooth extracted. But it is normal to experience pain later at home while you’re healing from the procedure. Here are some typical methods for alleviating that discomfort.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers – You may want to try any good OTC pain reliever to help manage your pain while you recover at home. Just make sure that you follow directions carefully.
- Ice pack – You might want to try using an ice pack on the side of your face where the extraction took place to reduce swelling and ease any discomfort you might be feeling.
- Warm compress – Alternatively, you can try using a warm compress on the side of your face. This works similarly to an ice pack – it helps to alleviate discomfort and reduce any swelling that may be present.
- Salt water rinses – Beginning 24 hours after your procedure, you can gently rinse your mouth out with warm salt water 3 or 4 times a day. Not only does this help to keep your mouth clean, it also can help to alleviate any discomfort you might be feeling.
- Avoid hot and cold food and drinks – You may find these to be uncomfortable after a tooth extraction, so stay with soft foods that aren’t too hot or cold.
- Prescription pain medicine – If you are experiencing pain that isn’t relieved by any other method, ask your dentist for prescription pain medication.
Why Pain Management Is Important
Obviously, no one likes to feel pain, but there is another reason to alleviate any discomfort you feel after a tooth extraction procedure. One very important aspect of the healing process is to get enough rest. And it’s virtually impossible to rest comfortably if you’re in pain. So follow the steps above in addition to the specific instructions from your dentist to manage your pain level after the procedure. Make sure to eat only soft foods and avoid chewing on the side of your mouth where the extraction was done. And when you rest, keep your head elevated.
The idea of having a tooth pulled is no doubt unnerving for many people. But the truth is that the procedure itself is usually not painful at all. It’s during the healing process afterwards that you’ll need to take appropriate measures to stop tooth extraction pain. To find out more about the procedure, as well as the at-home recovery instructions, contact your Austin, Texas dentist today and schedule an appointment.