We understand your pain. The pain of an infected, impacted, or damaged tooth can be shattering and personality-altering. Image Dental in Stockton provides a full range of services to promote oral health, to preserve your teeth, and to promote healthy and bright smiles. We also understand that urgent or threatening situations require practical and immediate solutions.
Tooth extraction is an effective method of dealing with an infection, tooth decay, damaged teeth, and overcrowding. While no one looks forward to having a tooth removed, we can often eliminate tooth pain by extracting the affected tooth, then treating the underlying issue. Our goals are simple: To eliminate the pain as quickly and effectively as possible, to eliminate the risk of infection and complications, to offer immediate and permanent solutions, and to let you live your life — without tooth pain.
In this article, we’re going to provide information about tooth extractions, and answer one common question we get about traveling after an extraction: Can you fly after a tooth extraction?
Quick Look: What Happens After Tooth Extraction
Tooth extractions are an urgent response to infected teeth, but also a preventative measure to eliminate the risk of impacted wisdom teeth. We assess every patient individually but may recommend that wisdom teeth be removed before complications such as overcrowding, impaction, infection, and damage to adjacent teeth occur.
Tooth extractions are a very common and effective procedure. While every patient’s situation is unique, there are two basic types of extractions: simple and surgical. A simple extraction is performed with a local anesthetic to eliminate pain; the tooth is removed using forceps. Not every situation is simple. If the affected tooth is broken, wisdom or other teeth below the gumline are being removed, or more than one tooth is being extracted, we may recommend surgical extraction.
Complex surgical extractions are often performed under general anesthesia to ensure you feel no pain while multiple teeth are being extracted, and while the oral surgeon removes any piece of your gum or jaw bone if necessary.
While patients’ recovery varies from person to person, here are seven guidelines about what to expect during your recovery:
- You may experience some minor bleeding for the first 24 hours after the extraction
- For the first 24 or 48 hours after an extraction, focus on getting as much rest as possible
- To avoid a painful condition called dry socket, in which the clot in the area of the extraction becomes dislodged, do not rinse, gargle, use straws, spit, blow your nose, sneeze, or smoke for the first few days after the extraction
- Your extraction will be painless, but you will experience discomfort in your gums and jaw for a few days after the procedure
- Over-the-counter pain medication, elevating your head, and cold compresses will help reduce that pain and discomfort
- On approximately the third day after the extraction, begin gently rinsing your mouth with salt water, and flossing and brushing your teeth normally (but not in the area of the extraction)
- For a week or so following your procedure, eat only soft foods such as mild soup, yogurt, apple sauce, and smoothies
By following those precautions, you’ll recover fully from a tooth extraction within a week or two. You’ll be able to return to your normal life, missing nothing more than the pain that brought you to Image Dental in the first place. There are extra considerations to keep in mind if your normal life includes flying, or if you have a trip planned shortly after an extraction.
You should not fly for 24 or 48 hours after an extraction. During that period, your recovery should be the most important priority and the risk of dry socket — a dislodged clot — is at its highest. Your extraction will leave bone, tissue, and nerves exposed. If the blood clot at the extraction site becomes dislodged, you will experience extreme pain. Over-the-counter pain medication may not be enough to relieve that pain.
Focusing on rest for 48 hours after an extraction — and avoiding any unusual activity, including flying — will help prevent dry socket. If you suffer dry socket while flying and unable to receive urgent dental attention, you’ll be unable to receive urgent medical attention for the pain and potential complications.
Aside from the risk of dry socket, flying is safe from 24 or 48 hours after your extraction. It may be more uncomfortable than usual, though. Sinus pressure, headaches, and toothaches that many people experience while flying due to changes in air pressure will be worse while recovering from a tooth extraction. What might otherwise have been uncomfortable may cause you to faint, sweat, or vomit. You should judge carefully your own threshold for increased discomfort.
Managing the risks of flying after tooth extraction
Flying in the days after a tooth extraction increases the risk of dry socket, and greater than usual flight-related discomfort. You should schedule your extraction at least 48 hours — and ideally at least two weeks — before any flight.
If it is not possible to defer your flight for more than 48 hours after your extraction, which is strongly recommended, here are seven precautions you should take while flying after an extraction:
- Fill any prescriptions for pain medication issued by your dentist, and take it with you in your carry-on baggage
- If not issued a prescription for pain medication, take over-the-counter pain medication with you in your carry-on baggage
- Take clean gauze with you in your carry-on baggage so you can change your bandage as required, and respond to any new or increased bleeding
- Follow the above guidelines especially carefully to avoid dry socket
- Do not assume there will be room-temperature water available, and do not drink hot or cold beverages. Take room temperature water with you
- Take an ice pack or cold compress with you in anticipation of increased pain and discomfort
- Take your dentist’s contact information with you in the event of a need for urgent advice and support
Tooth extractions are an effective solution for many causes of tooth infection and tooth pain. You’ll recover from a tooth extraction quickly and easily by following your dentist’s instructions and these general guidelines carefully for one or two weeks. While flying after a tooth extraction is safe, you’re vulnerable to an extremely painful complication for the first 48 hours. During that period, flying should be avoided. Beyond that period, you should be prepared for some additional discomfort if you’re unable to delay your flight until you’ve fully recovered.
Are you dealing with tooth pain and ready to be rid of it? The team at Image Dental in Stockton can help you put that pain behind you once and for all. Get in touch with Image Dental to discuss the best strategy to be rid of that pain, especially if you’re planning a trip in the near future.