Skip to main content
All Posts By

Dr. Anthony LaVacca

Why Do I Have a Bump on My Gums?

By Blog

It can be alarming when you notice a bump on your gums, especially if it’s painful. While any time you experience changes in the soft tissues of your mouth or have oral pain, you should visit your dentist, not every bump is a sign of a serious issue. In this post, we’ll cover the causes and what to do to get relief. 

Why Is There a Bump on My Gums?

Here are a few common reasons why you might have a bump:

  • An Abscess – An extremely sensitive, painful bump on your gums that looks like a pimple is likely an abscess. An abscess is due to a bacterial infection and occurs as pus collects under the gum, forming a bump or boil. 

There are different types of abscesses, including a periodontal abscess, which is usually caused by periodontitis (advanced gum disease), and a periapical abscess, which is an infection at the tip of your tooth’s root from tooth decay or an injury. A periapical abscess usually presents as a bump on the gums above or below the affected tooth.

If you do have an abscess, it will often be accompanied by other symptoms including:

  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Fever
  • Discharge
  • Fatigue
  • Facial swelling
  • Persistent pain that may spread to the ear, jaw and neck

It’s important to have an abscess evaluated and treated. It won’t go away on its own. While it can drain and provide temporary relief, the infection will still be present and can spread to the jaw and supporting tissues. In rare cases, a dental infection can reach the brain and cause serious health complications. 

Treatment for an abscess will involve treating the infection, whether through periodontal care or a root canal, and, sometimes, antibiotics. We might also drain the abscess to give you immediate relief. 

  • A Canker Sore – We’ve had patients at our Naperville dental practice visit worried they had an abscess and it turned out they had a canker sore, or aphthous ulcer. Even though canker sores are benign and don’t cause serious issues, they can be extremely painful.

A canker sore usually looks like a flattish, yellow or white bump or blister on the gums surrounded by a red border. The sores can appear in a cluster and they make talking and eating difficult. 

Canker sores are not contagious and no one knows exactly what causes them, though it’s thought that the following can play a role:

  • Stress
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Food allergies
  • Genetics
  • illness
  • Mouth injuries
  • Certain medications 

The mouth ulcers don’t usually require treatment and tend to resolve on their own within two weeks. 

  • Cyst – A cyst will look like a small, liquid-filled bubble, or bump, on the gums. Dental cysts tend to pop up around the root of diseased, malpositioned or impacted teeth. Many times, cysts are painless. However, they can grow larger and put pressure on the teeth and jaw or become infected, both of which will cause pain. 

While you should have a cyst looked at by your Naperville general dentist, whether it requires treatment or not will depend on its cause and size. Most cysts resolve on their own, however, some need to be removed surgically. 

  • Oral Fibroma – An oral fibroma appears as a smooth, hard bump on the gums. A fibroma is a tumor-like mass of connective tissue that’s almost always benign. Fibromas develop when an area of the mouth is constantly irritated or traumatized, such as from a habit like biting the inside of your cheek or from ill-fitting dentures or another oral appliance.

Treatment will depend on the size, location, type and cause of the fibroma. You may need to have your dentures or oral appliance re-fitted so that it stops irritating your mouth. 

Though fibromas aren’t usually painful, if they get larger, they can become easily irritated, leading to discomfort. In those cases, surgical removal could be recommended. 

  • Bony Growth – A bony, round, hard bump on the gums is known as a dental torus (or tori plural). It’s a bony protrusion that grows on top of existing bone. The bumps are usually smooth and covered completely in gum tissue. 

The different types of dental tori are classified by their location. For example, a torus mandibularis is located on the inside of the lower jaw on the side nearest the tongue. A torus palatinus is a protrusion from the roof of the mouth, or palate. 

Dental tori don’t usually interfere with function or cause pain. Rarely, a tori will continue growing and become irritated or get in the way of dentures. In these cases, it may need to be removed. 

There isn’t a known cause of bony growths on the gums but some experts think bruxism, genetic factors, diet and/or stress on the jaw from a bad bite may be the cause. 

  • Oral Cancer – While most bumps are benign, occasionally, a small growth or lump on the gum tissue is a sign of oral cancer. It might be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
  • A red or white patch on your gums
  • Thickening of the skin
  • A sore that bleeds and/or won’t heal
  • Jaw or tongue pain
  • Loose teeth
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Risk factors for oral cancer include:

  • A family history of oral cancer 
  • Heavy drinking
  • Tobacco use
  • Having human papillomavirus (HPV) 
  • Being over age 40
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • A lack of fruit and vegetables in the diet

At Naperville Dental Specialists, we offer VELscope oral cancer screenings. VELscope is a small, handheld tool that uses light to painlessly identify pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions.

When caught early, oral cancer has a high survival rate. If you’re worried a lump is cancerous, schedule a visit at Naperville Dental Specialists. It’s also good practice to have a screening as part of your routine dental exams. 

Can I Pop a Bump on My Gums?

No. You should never pop a bump on your gums. Even popping a harmless bump will cause irritation and pain, making the situation worse. 

Though an abscess will sometimes drain on its own, popping it can damage the soft tissue and it will release bacteria into your mouth. If an abscess does drain on its own, gently swish with a saltwater rinse to get rid of the foul-tasting liquid and keep your mouth clean. 

 

How to Get Rid Of Bumps on Gums

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to get rid of bumps on your gums at home, in most cases. You should see your dentist for treatment if the bump doesn’t go away after a few weeks or it is accompanied by the signs of an abscess or oral cancer we noted above. 

While you’re waiting to see your dentist, you can alleviate pain by:

  • Swishing with a saltwater rinse (½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water)
  • Avoiding irritating the bump when brushing or flossing or wearing an appliance
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed
  • Sticking with a soft foods diet

To prevent painful bumps on your gums in the future:

  • Practice good oral hygiene
  • Break repetitive habits that cause oral irritation like biting the inside of your cheek or grinding your teeth
  • Maintain a well-rounded, healthy diet
  • Manage stress
  • Avoid heavy drinking and using tobacco products
  • Keep up with regular dental exams and cleanings

 

Schedule a Visit with a Naperville General Dentist 

If a bump on your gums is bothering you or causing you to worry, schedule a visit with a general dentist at Naperville Dental Specialists today. We use high-tech diagnostic tools, so we can determine what’s causing the bump and create a personalized treatment plan to help you find relief. 

 

Dr. Anthony LaVacca, Dr Irene Jovicic & Dr. Sergio Baron featured in Naperville Magazine Medical Profiles

By Media

Dr. Manal Ibrahim & Dr. Anthony LaVacca are joined by a team of talented general dentists and hygienists, as well as board-certified specialists, including a pediatric dentist, an orthodontist, oral surgeon, endodontist, periodontist and a dental anesthesiologist. Our doctors are trained in state-of-the-art techniques, using technology to painlessly and conveniently protect, restore and rejuvenate smiles. With generalists and specialists under one roof and a friendly, professional team, Innovative Dental Partners can give your family the most coordinated, comprehensive care possible.

Read More
Bone Graft for Dental Implants

How Long After a Bone Graft Can You Get a Dental Implant?

By Blog, Dental Implants No Comments

While you’ve probably heard of dental implants, not everyone is as familiar with bone grafting. But, for many patients, getting a bone graft is part of the dental implant process. Once the bone grafting material is in place, it takes time for it to heal and for new bone to form in order to support the implant. So, how long after a bone graft can you get a dental implant? The experts at Naperville Dental Specialists have answers. 

In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • What is a dental bone graft?
  • Is a bone graft always part of the dental implant process?
  • What happens during the bone grafting procedure?
  • How long does a bone graft take to heal and what is the recovery like?
  • How long after a bone graft can an implant be placed?
  • What is the dental implant process timing from start to finish?
  • How long does a bone graft last without an implant?

What is a Dental Bone Graft?

When you’re missing teeth, the underlying jawbone isn’t stimulated anymore, which signals to the body that it’s not needed. Over time, the body reabsorbs the bone. This jaw bone loss can not only impact your facial appearance and the health of your remaining teeth, it can also make it difficult to place dental implants. This is because implants need adequate quality and quantity of bone to support them.

The good news is, a dental bone graft is an excellent solution. Our Naperville implant dentist, Dr. Anthony LaVacca, places bone graft material into the empty socket after a tooth is extracted or in areas of the mouth where bone is deficient. The grafting material acts almost like a scaffold and new bone cells are created around it. Eventually the bone regenerates, replacing the graft materials and giving you bone where you need it. 

The type of bone graft procedure and material will depend on your unique needs. However, most commonly, Dr. LaVacca and his team use allografts. These grafts are made of donated bone materials that have been refined and sterilized. Allografts are biocompatible, high quality and don’t require another surgical procedure to take bone from somewhere else in your own body. 

Is a Bone Graft Always Part of the Dental Implant Process?

Not always. At Naperville Dental Specialists, Dr. LaVacca offers advances like All-on-4® dental implants. If you’re a candidate, the technique allows him to replace all of the teeth in one or both arches using just four, strategically placed implants without bone grafting. Additionally, some patients naturally have enough bone to support a dental implant or are able to replace a missing tooth before any bone loss occurs. When that’s the case, bone grafting isn’t necessary.

That said, it is extremely common for getting a bone graft to be part of the dental implant process. If you’re having a tooth extracted, we can usually perform a bone graft immediately after the extraction. This way, you’ll be ready for a dental implant. Even if you’re not sure about dental implants, a bone graft after an extraction might still be recommended in case you do decide to get an implant in the future.

Bone Graft

What Happens During the Bone Grafting Procedure?

There are several different types of bone graft procedures, including socket preservation, a sinus lift and ridge augmentation. Though the specifics will be slightly different depending on your needs, it’s actually a quick, minor procedure. 

We use local anesthetic (we also offer sedation if you’re anxious) to numb the area, so you won’t feel any discomfort. Dr. LaVacca then places the bone grafting material into the empty tooth socket or makes an incision and places it in the section of the jaw that needs augmenting. 

If you lost an upper molar or premolar and you’re having a sinus lift performed, Dr. LaVacca makes a small opening above the missing tooth. He then lifts the sinus membrane up and packs bone grafting material beneath it. This ensures there will be enough room to place the dental implant without damaging the sinus pocket. 

Depending on the type of graft, Dr. LaVacca may place a covering, or membrane, over it and secure it with dissolvable stitches. 

How Long Does a Bone Graft Take to Heal and What is Recovery Like?

Pain is usually pretty mild after a bone graft. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help manage discomfort. Swelling is normal, especially if you also had a tooth extraction. Hold a cold compress in the area of the procedure for 10 minutes at a time for the first day after surgery. Try to sleep with your head elevated and avoid strenuous physical activity until your dentist gives you the go-ahead. 

You’ll want to stick with liquids and soft foods in the days right after the procedure. Even after you resume your normal diet, don’t eat hard, crunchy or sharp foods for a few weeks. Be sure to follow the detailed post-op instructions we give you, which will include how to keep the area clean and any complications to keep an eye out for.

As for how long a bone graft takes to heal, you will probably feel completely back to normal within two weeks. But, the bone will still need to regenerate, so it takes three to nine months for most patients to fully heal. 

How Long After a Bone Graft Can an Implant be Placed?

There are some cases where we can do a sinus lift and dental implant placement in a single procedure. However, many times, such as with socket preservation, a bone graft needs to mature before it can support a dental implant. 

In order to determine how long after your bone graft you can get a dental implant, Dr. LaVacca will have you come in for a post-op visit so he can monitor your healing. The timing can vary depending on your oral and overall health, as well as other factors. Generally, we can place an implant three to four months after a bone graft, though it might be a bit sooner or later. 

What is the Dental Implant Process Timeline From Start to Finish?

The dental implant process timeline varies according to the procedures you need. Dr. LaVacca is an American board-certified prosthodontist and stays on the leading-edge of his field. He’s able to offer revolutionary treatment options, including All-on-4 and Teeth-in-a-Day®.

If you’re a candidate for a procedure like Teeth-in-a-Day, you’ll get your permanent replacement teeth on the same day as your dental implant surgery. If you didn’t require an extraction and bone graft beforehand, you won’t have any waiting period. A few weeks after your consultation, you’ll get a brand new smile.

If you opt for traditional dental implant surgery, the dental implant process timeline will run about three to six months. Dr. LaVacca will place a titanium or zirconia dental implant into your jawbone. The implant will be allowed to heal for three to six months, during which it will fuse with your jawbone in a process known as osseointegration. After it heals, Dr. LaVacca will attach your permanent replacement tooth. 

How long is the dental implant process when bone grafting is involved? It will look something like this:

  • Extraction and bone graft 
  • Three- to four-month healing period
  • Dental implant surgery 
  • Three- to six-month healing period
  • Permanent replacement tooth

That means the process can take six months to a year to complete. Whichever option you go with, we often give you a temporary replacement tooth during the healing period.

How Long Does a Bone Graft Last Without an Implant?

Maybe you’re thinking about getting a bone graft or you already got one and you’re still trying to decide if you want a dental implant. If that’s the case, you’re probably wondering, how long does a bone graft last without an implant?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a concrete answer that applies to everyone. In general, we encourage patients to get a dental implant within six to 12 months of the bone graft. This is because the implant puts the same pressure on the bone that your tooth roots did, which maintains the quantity and quality of bone, preventing bone loss. 

However, technically, a bone graft can last forever in some patients, though the quantity of bone will change. Over time, if a dental implant isn’t placed, the new bone that formed thanks to your graft will resorb just like your natural bone did. The atrophy will eventually slow, however. It really depends on your unique situation and oral health as to whether you can get a dental implant years down the road without needing another bone graft. 

The Bottom Line:

There are cases where bone grafting and dental implant surgery can be done at the same time. For others, Dr. LaVacca offers state-of-the-art tools and techniques like All-on-4, which can help certain patients avoid bone grafting altogether. However, most patients who require a bone graft will need to wait three to four months after the graft to have dental implants placed. 

 

Learn More About Bone Grafting & Dental Implants in Naperville, IL

As a leading prosthodontist, Dr. LaVacca can help you replace missing teeth with dental implants in the safest, most precise and efficient way possible. Using high-tech diagnostics, he’ll determine if you need a bone graft and create a personalized treatment plan and timeline for you. The end result will be a beautiful, functional smile and improved oral health. To learn more about your options, schedule a consultation with our Naperville implant dentist today!

Univision Chicago: Innovative Dental Partners Reminds Parents of Important Back-to-School Law

By Media No Comments

“Children are our most precious resource,” says George Castellanos, spokesman for Innovative Dental Partners in Naperville, who explains that, according to state law, minors who are in kindergarten and those who are in second, sixth or ninth grade must have dental exams prior to the start of the new school year. “Unfortunately, cavities and dental problems are one of the main causes of poor academic performance and absence from classes,” says the expert.

Read More

Is Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding Making You Age Faster?

By Blog No Comments

Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grindin

Teeth grinding and clenching, technically called bruxism, is a common issue. Some people find themselves clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth during the day when they’re under stress. However, for others, bruxism happens during sleep when they’re not conscious of the habit. 

Chronic bruxism, particularly sleep bruxism, can lead to a number of complications, including chipped, cracked or worn teeth, damaged dental restorations, headaches, and facial and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. But can teeth grinding change your face shape or make you age faster? The experts at Naperville Dental Specialists have answers. 

Can Teeth Grinding Change Your Face Shape?

It might come as a surprise, but teeth grinding and jaw clenching can change your face shape. What’s the link between bruxism and your jawline? Well, clenching and grinding work the chewing muscles, including the masseter muscle, which connects to the cheekbone and the lower jaw, and the temporalis muscle, along the side of the head. 

Due to the overuse from bruxism, the masseter and temporalis muscles get stronger and more pronounced, just like any other muscle in the body does in response to exercise. This enlargement, called hypertrophy, can lead to a square jaw that looks undefined and stereotypically “masculine.”

Aside from a squared jawline, bruxism can also change your face shape by giving it a swollen appearance and adding bulk to the cheek area. 

Can Bruxism Make You Look Older?

Unfortunately, yes. According to a review published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, the repetitive facial expressions that occur when grinding the teeth or clenching the jaw are a culprit behind premature aging of the lower face. 

Teeth grinding makes teeth shorter as enamel erodes, which also contributes to changes in your facial appearance. In extreme cases, the constant biting force and, sometimes, even resulting tooth loss, cause jawbone loss and, in turn, facial sagging as the lower third of the face loses support and volume. 

Can Bruxism Make You Look Older

Can Changes to Your Facial Appearance from Bruxism be Reversed?

To some extent, they can. Getting treatment for teeth grinding and clenching will prevent bruxism from causing further changes to your face shape and reduce the appearance of overworked chewing muscles. For stress-related clenching and grinding, managing stress will go a long way in keeping the habit under control. 

If you grind your teeth in your sleep, stopping can be harder. In order to treat sleep bruxism and reverse changes in face shape, you may need:

  • A custom night guard

A night guard is similar to an athletic mouthguard, but it cushions against the grinding forces and also helps to relax the facial muscles. A Naperville dentist can create a custom guard that will keep your teeth safe from wear and, as you contract your masseter muscle less frequently, cause it to shrink.

  • BOTOX® in the masseter muscle

Masseter muscle Botox has increased in popularity. Botox temporarily blocks the nerves from signaling the muscle to contract. Eventually, the masseter muscle atrophies and the face slims down. However, you’ll need to have regular Botox injections to maintain the results, which can be pricey. 

  • TMJ disorder treatment

Often, bruxism and TMJ disorders go hand in hand. One of the treatments for TMJ disorder we offer at Naperville Dental Specialists is tmj NextGeneration™. The FDA-cleared, custom ear inserts sit comfortably and virtually invisibly in your ear canals. The devices support the TMJs, reducing pain and encouraging healing. They also alleviate strain on the chewing muscles and provide cognitive awareness of clenching and grinding, helping to stop bruxism. As teeth grinding and jaw clenching decreases and the muscles relax, the jaw will look less square.

  • Cosmetic dentistry 

If face shape changes from jaw clenching and teeth grinding are due to worn enamel, one of our skilled Naperville cosmetic dentists can restore the shape, length and appearance of your teeth with treatments like dental veneers or cosmetic dental crowns. This will make you look years younger. 

  • Orthodontic treatment

A misaligned bite can actually make you more susceptible to bruxism. In these cases, getting braces or Invisalign to straighten your teeth and improve your bite will be beneficial for stopping grinding and bringing your facial features into harmony. If you do need orthodontic treatment, as part of the Innovative Dental Partners family, we’re under the same roof as the talented, world-class orthodontists at Innovative Orthodontic Centers. We can refer you to the practice and easily coordinate your care. 

  • Dental implants

Lastly, facial sagging because of bruxism-related tooth and bone loss can be remedied with dental implants and, if needed, a bone graft. Our leading American board-certified prosthodontist, Dr. Anthony LaVacca, offers a wide range of dental implants in Naperville, IL. He will assess your teeth, jaw and facial structure and recommend the best type of implants for your needs. The dental implants will support your lower face, lifting it and adding youthful volume. 

Worried About a Change in Face Shape From Jaw Clenching or Teeth Grinding?

If you’re concerned about premature aging or changes to your face shape and jawline from bruxism, schedule a visit at Naperville Dental Specialists. With a team of general dentists and specialists in one practice, we can diagnose and treat bruxism in order to help you find relief and reclaim your appearance.

FREE Ice Cream Social

By Events No Comments

Date: Thursday, July 14, 2022 At 10 AM – 1 PM

In celebration of National Ice Cream Month, cool off with FREE ICE CREAM compliments of Innovative Orthodontic Centers, Innovative Pediatric Dentistry & Naperville Dental Specialists.

Naperville Dental Specialists

ADVANCED SAFETY PROTOCOLS

By Blog No Comments

Updated 7/1/2022

At Naperville Dental Specialists, we are still committed to the safety of our patients and staff. We continue to have advanced protocols to make your visit safe. Please read below for a quick introduction to these steps, and do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

FACEMASKS

All patients, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear face coverings per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the American Dental Association (ADA).

PRE-SCREENING OF EVERY PATIENT

A quick health questionnaire should be completed 24 to 48 hours prior to the in-office appointment.

CDC-APPROVED INSTRUMENT STERILIZATION

As always, we will continue our high-level disinfection between patients, hospital grade sterilization of instruments, and appropriate use of personal protective equipment.

APPOINTMENT RESCHEDULING

Please reschedule your appointment if anyone in your household has been sick in the last 14 days.

ADVANCED STAFF TRAINING & HEALTH CHECKS

Each member of our team has completed additional awareness and prevention programs to enhance their knowledge to provide safe dental care. Each day, we complete health checks for our team with no-touch temperature checks and a quick set of questions.

Thank you for your understanding as we work together to achieve your best smile! As guidance for COVID-19 prevention changes, we’ll keep you updated on what’s happening in the office. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions! We are looking forward to seeing you soon!

Tooth Extraction

Here’s What to Expect When Healing After a Tooth Extraction

By Blog No Comments

While our Naperville dentists always try to save a patient’s natural tooth, sometimes, due to severe decay, damage or periodontal disease, a tooth extraction is unavoidable. The good news is, we use cutting-edge technology and techniques to make removing a tooth as quick and painless as possible. We also offer a full range of tooth replacement options, including dental bridges and dental implants. 

The team at Naperville Dental Specialists will walk you through exactly what to expect during and after a tooth extraction, but we know having answers in advance can make you feel more relaxed and confident. That’s why, in this post, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the tooth extraction healing process. 

What Happens During a Tooth Extraction?

When we perform a tooth extraction at our Naperville practice, we numb the tooth and the surrounding area with a local anesthetic. If you’re feeling anxious or you’re undergoing a surgical extraction, such as for impacted wisdom teeth, we can also administer sedation to ensure you’re completely at ease. 

Once you’re numb and/or sedated, your dentist or oral surgeon will use a special tool to rock the tooth and widen the socket. They’ll then ease the tooth out. In some cases, they may need to section the tooth, which means breaking it into smaller pieces for easier removal. You won’t feel any pain during a tooth extraction, just a little bit of pressure.

After extracting the tooth, the doctor will clean the area. If you’re planning on getting a dental implant, if necessary, at this point, we can place bone grafting material into the empty socket to ensure there is adequate bone to support the implant. We may or may not close the site with a few sutures, depending on which tooth was removed. 

How Long Does a Tooth Extraction Take to Heal?

Every patient is unique and some people heal more quickly than others. However, while it does depend on your natural biology and the complexity of your case, in general, the tooth extraction healing stages are as follows:

  • The First 24 Hours 

For the first 24 hours after your tooth extraction, you may experience swelling, bleeding and some discomfort. This is all totally normal. A blood clot will start to form, which is necessary to stop the bleeding. About 24 hours post-extraction, swelling should peak and then begin to subside. 

  • 1-2 Days Post-Extraction

Your body will do the majority of its healing in the first two days after the procedure. You’ll want to follow our post-op instructions carefully and get plenty of rest. You may still have soreness at the extraction site and a small amount of bleeding. Once the clot forms, it will start to transform into granulation tissue, a mixture of white blood cells, blood vessels and collagen. The granulation tissue helps prevent infection and fills in the hole left behind from the extraction. 

  • 3 Days Post-Extraction

About three days post-procedure, swelling should be minimal and bleeding should have stopped. The area may be a little tender. The empty tooth socket will be on its way to healing, however, you’ll want to continue following your after-care instructions to help keep the clot in place. By 72 hours post-extraction, you might notice that the hole is starting to close. 

  • 7 to 10 Days Post-Extraction

Between seven and 10 days after the extraction, the opening where your tooth was should be closed, or at least very close to it, and a new layer of gum tissue will have begun to form. If we used dissolvable stitches, they’ll start to disappear. You shouldn’t have swelling, bleeding or pain at this stage of the healing process. 

  • 3-4+ Weeks Post-Extraction

Three to four weeks after the tooth extraction, the extraction hole will be closed, though you may still have an indentation for a few more weeks. 

For a surgical extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth, the jawbone will have to heal as well, which can take several months. While this might sound like a long healing period, the truth is, most patients feel “back to normal” within a few days, but it takes more time for the bone tissue in the jaw to regenerate.

What Should a Tooth Extraction Look Like When Healing?

During the first 24 hours after a tooth extraction, you’ll see a hole where the tooth once was. This empty socket will look deep red and a blood clot will form that reaches to about the level of the gumline. The tissue around the socket might appear whitish in color due to trauma. 

After two to three days, the hole will look smaller and you’ll notice new gum tissue has started to form around the edges. Around this time, we sometimes get calls from patients concerned about white stuff during their tooth extraction healing. As long as you’re not experiencing severe pain, the white stuff inside of the tooth socket is likely granulation tissue and not a sign of infection. 

As we said, granulation tissue is made up of collagen, blood vessels and white blood cells. It looks creamy white and typically develops two to three days after the extraction once the clot has formed. It helps protect the clot and cover the wound. 

By one to two weeks after the tooth extraction, a normal socket will be pink in color instead of dark red. Most of the gum tissue will have healed and the socket will look nearly closed. For larger teeth, such as molars or wisdom teeth, healing can take a bit longer. At the two-week mark, you might still notice a pretty visible indentation. 

Animated-Teeth has a guide with pictures of what a tooth extraction should look like when healing. Though your extraction site may look slightly different, seeing the visuals can be helpful and give you a basic idea of what’s normal and what’s not. 

How Long Does Pain Last After a Tooth Extraction?

Now for the million dollar question: How long does pain last after a tooth extraction? It varies depending on your body and the tooth that was extracted. For a simple extraction, such as the removal of an incisor or a baby tooth, pain lasts, on average, one to three days. 

Pain after a tooth extraction can last longer for teeth with deep roots or those that were surgically extracted. In these cases, discomfort can continue for about a week, with some patients noticing an increase in pain around day five and then a gradual decrease.

If you’re still experiencing tooth extraction pain after seven days, it’s a good idea to check in with your dentist. While a bit of tenderness around the socket is to be expected, significant pain after the first week can be a concern. 

Tooth Extraction

Are There Aftercare Instructions I Should Follow?

Yes. When you visit our practice for a tooth extraction in Naperville, we’ll provide you with aftercare instructions to follow. In general, you’ll want to stick with the following guidelines:

First 24 Hours

  • Immediately after the tooth extraction, we’ll give you gauze pads. Fold them up to create a thick surface. Put the pads on the extraction site and bite down on them firmly for about 15 to 30 minutes before checking to see if bleeding has slowed. Replace the gauze pads as needed and use them until bleeding is minimal or stops. 
  • If you were prescribed antibiotics, take them as instructed. 
  • For pain, you can take an over-the-counter or prescribed pain reliever as needed. 
  • Rest for the remainder of the day after your tooth extraction and limit physical activity for a full 24 hours. Prop your head up on pillows to minimize bleeding. 
  • Place a cold compress on your cheek in the area of the extraction site to help with pain and swelling. Use it for 10 minutes on and off throughout the first 24 hours. 
  • When eating, opt for liquids or very soft foods. 

After the First 24 Hours:

  • You can start to resume your regular activities, however, avoid excessive exertion for 72 hours. 
  • Continue with a soft foods diet for several days.
  • Continue taking any prescribed medication, including antibiotics, as instructed. 
  • Brush and floss your teeth but be careful not to brush the extraction site. 
  • You can gently rinse your mouth with a salt water rinse (½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water). Don’t swish or spit vigorously. If you were told to irrigate the sockets, you can do that to keep the area clean. 

What Can I Eat After a Tooth Extraction?

If you’re experiencing pain after a tooth extraction, you probably won’t be up for eating a big meal. But, keep in mind, good nutrition will help with the healing process. 

As for what to eat after a tooth extraction, during the first 24 hours, liquids or cold, creamy foods will be your best bet. Protein shakes, smoothies (avoid fruit with seeds), yogurt, ice cream and pudding are all good options.

Once you feel ready, you can move on to soft foods. Eat softer foods for about a week post-op. In addition to those suggested above, some of the best soft foods for after tooth extractions, include:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Pasta
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Jell-O
  • Mac and cheese
  • Cook grains like quinoa or barley
  • Soft-cooked vegetables
  • Ripe fruit like bananas 
  • Fish
  • Soft-cooked meats, such as roasted or stewed chicken
  • Tofu
  • Soup or stew with small pieces of soft-cooked meat and veggies
  • Oatmeal, cream of wheat or other cooked cereal
  • Pancakes
  • Muffins (with no nuts or seeds)
  • Soft sandwich bread
  • Cottage cheese
  • Tuna, chicken or egg salad (without celery or any crunchy additions)

What Should I Avoid After the Procedure?

After a tooth extraction, avoid:

  • Spitting, sucking through a straw and vigorous rinsing for three days. The suction created by these actions can dislodge the clot, leading to a painful condition known as dry socket
  • Smoking cigarettes. This too can interfere with the clot and smoking slows down the healing process. A lot of patients ask, “When can I smoke after a tooth extraction?” We’d recommend waiting at least 24 hours, but if you can stop smoking for seven days, it will be helpful.
  • Hard, crunchy foods (i.e., chips, nuts, raw carrots, etc.) and food that can get stuck in the socket, such as seeds and popcorn, for a week
  • Very hot, very cold, acidic or spicy foods for the first several days, as well as carbonated beverages and alcohol
  • Vigorous activity for at least three days
  • Using over-the-counter mouthwash for seven days. Even when swishing with a saltwater rinse, rinse gently during this timeframe.

How Can I Make My Tooth Extraction Heal Faster?

While there isn’t a magic way to make a tooth extraction heal faster, following your post-op instructions will help with your recovery and prevent complications. As with any type of oral surgery, rest, eating a soft foods diet, using an ice pack, maintaining good oral hygiene and avoiding using a straw, swishing or smoking will promote optimal healing.

Are There Any Post-Extraction Complications I Should Look Out For?

Infections after a tooth extraction are rare, but you should give our office a call if you experience any signs of infection, including:

  • Fever and chills
  • Severe pain
  • Redness and swelling in the extraction area
  • Lots of discharge
  • Nausea and vomiting

Another issue that can occur after an extraction, particularly after wisdom teeth removal, is dry socket. Dry socket, technically called alveolar osteitis, is when the blood clot at the extraction site fails to form or dislodges in the early stages of healing. When this happens, it can leave the nerve and bone exposed in the socket. 

Signs of dry socket include:

  • Severe pain or pain that worsens or changes in quality within a few days after a tooth extraction
  • An empty-looking socket that appears to have fully or partially lost the blood clot
  • Visible bone in the socket
  • Pain that travels from the socket to the ear, eye, temple and neck on the side of your face where the tooth was extracted
  • Bad breath and/or an unpleasant taste in your mouth

Though dry socket is painful, it’s easily treated. Contact us right away and we’ll help you get relief. 

Expert Tooth Extractions in Naperville, IL

If you suspect you need to have a tooth extracted, schedule an appointment at Naperville Dental Specialists. With modern technology and a team of dentists and specialists, we can take care of all of your dental needs in one location, from the extraction to replacing your tooth. 

 

Dental Cleaning

6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Skip Your Dental Cleanings

By Blog No Comments

Juggling work, family, a social life and your own health and wellness is a lot. When you’re busy and trying to prioritize, unfortunately, preventative care appointments can get pushed down lower on your to-do list or avoided altogether. This is especially true of having a dental cleaning once every six months. 

We get it! As an adult who knows how to brush and floss your own teeth, particularly if you don’t have any major dental problems, these routine visits can seem unnecessary. But, the truth is, they’re actually a crucial part of maintaining your oral health and forgoing them will end up costing you more time (and money) in the long run. 

Here are 6 reasons you shouldn’t skip your dental cleanings:

  • Regular Cleanings Help You Prevent Tooth Decay and Gum Disease.

Brushing at least twice a day and flossing once daily play a huge role in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. However, there’s only so much you can do at home. When plaque (a sticky bacterial film) hardens and turns into tartar, or calculus, it can’t be removed with just a regular toothbrush and floss. The tartar will sit on your teeth, releasing acids that erode your tooth enamel, eventually causing cavities. 

The bacteria in the plaque and tartar also irritate gum tissue and can result in a bacterial infection, known as periodontal disease, or gum disease. When you visit  us for a Naperville teeth cleaning, the hygienist will use special tools to remove plaque and hardened deposits that you can’t get rid of on your own. This will go a long way in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. And prevention is always better than treatment! 

And, since a routine dental cleaning is considered preventative care, it’s generally covered by insurance. Even without insurance, the dental cleaning cost is significantly less than the cost of treating a dental issue. If you don’t have insurance, we even offer a dental savings plan called VantageOne at our practice. When you purchase a membership, you’ll enjoy discounts, including 50% of dental cleanings, exams and x-rays!

  • Dental Cleanings Let Us Catch Little Problems Before They Become Big Ones, Saving You Time and Money.

Early detection is one of the most important benefits of a dental cleaning. While working on your smile, the hygienist gets an up close and personal look at your mouth. They can spot early tooth decay, signs of gingivitis, signs of oral cancer, faulty restorations and other dental concerns. Catching a cavity or faulty restoration early will mean much less invasive and expensive treatment. Sometimes, we can even stop or reverse early tooth decay and prevent it from turning into a cavity at all. 

If we identify gingivitis, which is gum disease in its earliest stages, we can treat it while it’s still reversible. Once gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, it can be managed but not cured. Periodontitis is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults and as the infection spreads, it can also lead to tissue and bone loss. 

As for oral cancer, early diagnosis is key. This type of cancer has a high mortality rate. It’s not because it’s inherently more dangerous than other types of cancers, but because it’s often detected in its advanced stages. During a Naperville teeth cleaning, the hygienist will look for suspicious bumps and lesions, as well as color changes in your gum tissue. The dentist can also perform a more comprehensive oral cancer screening as part of the dental exam that follows. 

Regardless of what the problem is, treating any issue will be more successful, affordable and less time consuming if caught early. By skipping dental cleanings and exams, you’re actually increasing the likelihood that you’ll spend a lot more time in the dentist’s chair in the future. 

Dental Cleaning with floss

  • These Visits Leave You With a Brighter, Healthier Smile.

The clean you get from a professional dental cleaning is hard to match. Your teeth and gums will feel refreshed and the hygienist will use specialized dental cleaning tools to remove surface stains from your tooth enamel. Your smile will look brighter and because we polish the teeth and create a smooth surface, your enamel will be better able to repel plaque in the weeks after your cleaning. 

  • Dental Cleanings Keep Your Breath Smelling Fresh.

An excellent oral hygiene routine helps to keep your mouth smelling fresh. But, by removing those hardened deposits we talked about, regular professional cleanings are another important step in controlling the oral bacteria behind bad breath

  • You Get Personalized Recommendations.

Of course, there are some general things most people should be doing like brushing twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day. That said, no two smiles are the same. 

Your dentist and hygienist can only really offer truly personalized recommendations after assessing your oral health and seeing firsthand how well your oral hygiene routine is working (don’t worry, it’s a no judgment zone here!). We’ll then give you guidance to help you create a strong homecare routine that meets your unique needs and let you know how often to have a dental cleaning and exam.

  • Boosting Your Oral Health Boosts Your Overall Health.

Your oral health is closely tied to your overall health. In fact, an infection in a tooth can spread to other areas of the body, and the toxins and inflammation from periodontal disease may cause systemic issues. Periodontal disease has been tied to a number of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, preterm birth and more. 

Regular dental care, including routine dental cleanings, helps to stop tooth decay and gum disease in their tracks or, at the very least, allow for early intervention before they impact your oral and overall health. By caring for your smile, you’re caring for your entire body. 

Schedule Your Next Naperville Teeth Cleaning Today!

Preserve your oral health and prevent future problems by keeping up with your regular dental cleanings and exams. Our expert Naperville dentists and hygienists offer thorough, yet gentle care to bring out the best in your smile. Schedule your next dental cleaning and exam at Naperville Dental Specialists.

Close Menu