How Long Should Pain Last After a Tooth Extraction?

How Long Should Pain Last After a Tooth Extraction?


Are you getting a tooth pulled or planning to schedule a wisdom tooth extraction? One of the most common questions people ask about is how much time they’re going to need to take off work or if they will miss school. While everyone’s pain threshold varies, let’s take a look at the typical recovery time for a standard tooth extraction.

The First 24 Hours

Fortunately, most pain after a tooth extraction is mild enough to manage with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Prescription pain medication may only be needed for the first one or two days after a more significant oral surgery, such as the removal of three or four wisdom teeth.

If you are taking prescription pain medications, you should not drive. However, if you are only taking over-the-counter medications, you may be able to drive – but you could feel a little woozy right after the extraction. If in doubt, call a friend or a cab.

The Next Few Days

After the first day of recovery, many people do just fine without any pain relievers. A small percentage of people will continue taking something for the next day or two, but it usually is not needed. One thing that most people do not realize is that discomfort is often caused by inflammation. In most cases, you can use a warm salt water rinse to gently flush away any food particles while also reducing swelling near the extraction site. As such, it helps to reduce any discomfort.

What About Dry Sockets?

In less than 10% of extraction cases, a dry socket may develop. The best way to avoid this from happening is to follow your dentist’s recommendations very carefully. Avoid things like smoking, alcohol, or chewing on hard foods too early on. These are just a few examples of situations that can cause the newly developed blood clot inside of your extraction site to come out. If this happens, it can result in significant discomfort that may take up to 10-14 days to resolve.

“Simple” vs. “Surgical” Extractions

Ask your dentist how easy (or complex) the surgery is, and what it is coded as on your insurance. For example, a simple extraction is one that is relatively easy. It may be what is used on a tooth with active periodontal disease or severe decay. The process is a straightforward one, taking less time. Surgical extractions usually involve impacted teeth or those with a curved root system, making them a bit more tedious to remove. As such, the simpler ones are usually quicker to recover from, while the surgical extractions may lead to an extra day or two of discomfort.

Once you know the “type” of extraction being performed, you can better plan for what the recovery process will look like. You may want to plan on having your tooth pulled on a Thursday or Friday so that you have a “long” weekend to recover. By then, most people can return to normal work and school activities.

When Can I Return to Work?

Your dentist will suggest taking off the day of your extraction. When you return to work, however, will depend on the type of job that you have. For instance, a job that relies on plenty of physical exertion, such as construction, should be avoided. The higher cardiovascular activity and physical strain may cause an elevation in blood pressure, leading to a dry socket.

If you have a desk job or a position where you don’t have to work up much of a sweat during the day, you may feel perfectly fine going back to work the day after you have your tooth pulled.

“But I Can’t Afford to Miss Work”

Fortunately, you won’t have to miss a lot of time off work because of your dental extraction. But, if you push yourself too early, you’ll be risking the chance at having to take extra time off than you had already planned. The safest bet is to give yourself a couple of days to recover.

If your budget is tight, you may be tempted to delay getting dental care. Having a great dental savings plan from Cigna – an alternative to dental insurance – helps make dental care such as tooth extractions, wisdom tooth removal, and other oral surgery procedures far more affordable. Call us today for more information!

Save 10% to 60%* at the Dentist!

With a Dental Savings Plan.

Start Saving Now

starting at

$144.95 /Yr

Vision Care

Hearing Care

bonus benefits

starting at

$174.95 /Yr

Vision Care

Hearing Care

Single Plan image

Save 15%-50% at the Dentist – Join Now!