Hesperian Health Guides
Problems After You Take Out a Tooth
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Problems such as swelling, severe pain, and bleeding can occur after you take out a tooth. Tetanus, a more serious problem, can also occur, especially if your instruments were not clean.
Swelling of the face
You can expect some swelling after you take out a tooth. But if the swelling continues to grow, and it is painful, this is not normal. Probably an infection has started. The treatment is the same as for a tooth abscess: penicillin for 5 days to fight infection, heat to reduce the swelling, and aspirin or acetominophen for pain.
Pain from the socket
There is always some pain after a tooth is taken out. Aspirin is usually enough to help.
However, sometimes a severe kind of pain starts inside the tooth’s ‘socket’ (the wound) 2 to 3 days after you take out the tooth. This problem is called dry socket and it needs special care.
- Place a dressing inside the socket. Change it each day until the pain stops.
- Give aspirin or acetominophen for pain.
Bleeding from the socket
When you take out a tooth it leaves a wound, so you can expect some blood. However, if the person bites firmly against a piece of cotton, it usually controls the bleeding. To help the wound heal (form a clot), tell the person not to smoke, rinse with salt water, or spit for 1 or 2 days after you take out the tooth.
When the first bleeding occurs, put a new piece of cotton on top of the wound and ask the person to close her teeth against it for an hour. Keep her there with you, to be sure she continues to bite on the cotton. (If it is too painful, you may want to inject anesthetic. See Chapter 9.) Change the cotton if it becomes soaked with blood.
Treatment (if the bleeding continues):
- Take her blood pressure (see Where There Is No Doctor, pages 410-411). If it is high, you may need medicine to bring it down. That can help slow the bleeding.
- Look carefully at the wound. If the gum is torn or loose, put in a suture.
- Wrap tea leaves in cotton gauze. Soak the bundle in water and then put it on the socket. Have the person bite against it. Or, have her bite against cotton gauze soaked with cactus juice. Let the person go home only when the bleeding stops. Give her some clean cotton to use in case the bleeding starts again later.