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How to Effectively Handle Tooth Extraction Pain

tooth extraction procedure

It’s no surprise. We all have teeth and at some time or another, one has to come out. With this comes some level of pain – but possibly not as much as you think! Tooth extraction pain can be minimised, but discomfort can still be experienced. So let’s explore the reasons why it can hurt and how to manage any soreness.

Regular toothache vs. tooth extraction pain

Regular Toothache

This type of pain is what leads up to your visit to a Dentist. It’s when the root of your tooth has an infection or decay attributed to bacteria or a broken tooth from sports trauma or an accident. Sometimes an issue within your jaw can cause referred pain in a tooth. Here, your dental professional would get to the bottom of the issue before any tooth extraction occurs.

Tooth Extraction Pain

This is a lingering pain after a dental procedure and there are a number of ways to manage it, as we’ll soon see.

Pain that may be experienced during your procedure

There is usually little pain during a tooth extraction. This is because local anaesthetic is applied once or twice to the area of the mouth where the tooth is to be removed. There’s a slight sting and then your nerves sleep for a short while. While tooth extractions are generally performed with anesthesia to minimize discomfort, some pain during the procedure is possible. Pain you might face:

Initial Discomfort:

  • Pressure: You may feel pressure or pushing as your dentist loosens the tooth.
  • Vibration: Drilling or other instruments may cause vibration in your jaw.
  • Dull ache: A dull ache or throbbing is common around the extraction site.

Post-Extraction Pain:

  • Sharp pain: Immediately after the anesthesia wears off, you may experience a sharp pain at the extraction site. Just a little temporary discomfort, but it should disappear completely within the next few hours.
  • Throbbing pain: Throbbing pain and soreness are common for several days after the extraction.
  • Gum sensitivity: The gums a round the extraction site may be sensitive to touch for a while.

Factors Affecting Pain:

  • Type of extraction: Simple extractions tend to be less painful than complex ones involving impacted teeth.
  • Individual pain tolerance: Everyone experiences pain differently.
  • Anesthesia effectiveness: The type and amount of anesthesia used can influence pain levels.

Managing Pain:

  • Over-the-counter medication: Your dentist will recommend pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage discomfort.
  • Ice packs: Wrap an ice pack and gently press it to your cheek to soothe the swelling and discomfort.
  • Elevation: Keep your head elevated while resting to promote healing and minimize discomfort.
  • Gentle rinsing: After a day, give your mouth a gentle clean with warm salt water.


Pain after an extraction is normal and should gradually improve over time. If the pain is severe, persistent, or worsens, contact your dentist immediately. Every step of your dentist’s post-op plan, from medication schedules to dietary choices, plays a role in your recovery. Follow them closely for optimal results.

After this, for many people, there’s no pain at all but if you do feel some actual pain, and not just tugging, your dental professional will take steps to control it.

How long can pain last after tooth extraction?

A caring attitude and gentle tooth removal is the priority at a dental clinic. But as extracting a tooth impacts the gums, you need to allow about 3 days for gum recovery.

Pain Duration and Intensity:

  • Most people experience discomfort for 1-3 days: This is the peak period, with throbbing or aching pain around the extraction site.
  • Easing discomfort: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage the pain. Depending on how you respond to the initial medication, your dentist may adjust your treatment plan and potentially prescribe stronger medication.
  • Lingering soreness: Some soreness or sensitivity can persist for up to a week or even longer. This is a common occurrence, and it usually resolves on its own in no time.

Factors influencing pain:

  • Type of extraction: Surgical extractions for impacted teeth or complex cases may involve more extensive gum manipulation, leading to potentially longer pain duration.
  • Individual pain tolerance: Some individuals are naturally more sensitive to pain than others.
  • Post-operative care: Following your dentist’s instructions for wound care, icing, and avoiding strenuous activities can promote faster healing and reduce pain.

When tooth extraction pain is not normal or is a concern

Some people experience tooth hyper-sensitivity. It’s where hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods cause acute pain. For relief, use toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid the types of foods mentioned that cause the pain. If you have a continued ache from a pre-existing infection, your dental professional will prescribe you antibiotics and a suitable pain killer.

While tooth extraction pain is normal after the procedure, there are situations where the pain might be considered abnormal or concerning. Here are some signs to watch out for:

Excessive pain:

  • Pain that is severe and not relieved by medication.
  • Pain that progressively gets worse instead of improving within a few days.
  • Pain that is accompanied by fever, chills, or nausea.

Persistent bleeding:

  • Continuous bleeding after 24 hours of extraction.
  • Bleeding that requires frequent gauze changes and cannot be controlled.

Swelling and inflammation:

  • Swelling increases significantly after the first 24 hours.
  • Swelling that is accompanied by redness, warmth, or tenderness.
  • Limited jaw movement due to swelling.

Dry socket:

  • A sharp, throbbing pain that starts 2-3 days after the extraction.
  • Visible exposure to bone in the extraction socket.
  • Bad breath or a foul taste in your mouth.

Other concerning symptoms: 

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing.
  • Numbness or tingling in your face or mouth that doesn’t subside after a few days.
  • Signs of infection, such as pus or redness around the extraction site.

How to relieve ‘ghost’ toothache

Ghost toothache is a throbbing you feel as nerves send messages to your brain that your tooth is still there – when it isn’t! To manage this, dentist will suggest either pain medication, ice pack treatment or possibly even acupuncture.

Some tips on how to relieve a ‘ghost’ toothache:

  • Painkillers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help manage the pain.
  • Follow the recommended dosage and consult your doctor if you have any underlying medical conditions.

Pain Management

Everyone’s pain threshold is different. Often paracetamol or ibuprofen are all that’s needed for strong tooth extraction pain. Your body does adapt to pain, so give it time. Be kind to yourself and you may need nothing at all! It’s also a good idea to rinse your mouth with salty water about every 24-hours.

At the forefront of excellent pain management after tooth extraction is having the right dentist and environment. Balmain Dentist can be a dependable ally to solve any of your questions related to dental care.