As a kid, I always thought that they would say this to all their kid patients just to make us feel better. People I’ve talked to say that this is regular advice they give to all their patients after tooth extraction to reduce the swelling.
But is it really effective and is there a scientific explanation for it? Or is this just an old wives tale that dentists tell us just to make us feel good?
Let’s find out.
People get their teeth pulled, normally due to any of the two reasons. Either the tooth is impacted or will be impacted because of lack of space between the teeth. Thus, there’s the need for it to be removed to facilitate proper growth of the rest of the teeth. Or you have a tooth that has decayed very badly and there is no cure for it.
Tooth extraction is necessary due to these reasons but the resulting pain and subsequent swelling should be considered when scheduling your tooth extraction because this will interfere with your normal daily activities.
There are some complications after a tooth extraction but they can be avoided with proper care. Pain is the most common problem but it is manageable with the right treatment.
The first complication to manage is the swelling. Swelling is a natural occurrence after tooth extraction but it can be minimized. This is done by using cold compress on the side of your cheek where the extraction was done.
This is why dentists advise their patients to eat ice cream. Cold temperature causes the blood vessels in the extraction area to constrict or narrow down. When this happens, the blood vessels are unable to carry much fluid which causes the swelling. Since the first 24 hours after extraction is the time when most of the swelling occurs, the amount of swelling is minimized. Of course, eating ice is also a “cool” way to treat yourself. We’ll look into this more as we go along.
After getting home, you need a quick cold treatment. Place an ice bag on your cheek in the affected area for 20 minutes, remove it for 20 minutes then repeat the process for an hour or two. You can do this three times during the first 24 hours.
What you eat is also important. This is where ice cream again comes in, particularly the soft ice cream type. Soft ice cream, yogurt, or any cold, soft types of food are recommended at this time. Of course, you can eat anything that’s not hard to chew. However, avoid those that can cause food to be lodged in the area where the extraction took place and avoid chewing in that area as well.
After the first 24 hours, the treatment will be different. From the 24th to the 48th hour after extraction, the swelling will subside by applying heat. Heat causes the blood vessels in the extraction area to dilate or enlarge. Because of this, blood vessels can better facilitate the flow of fluids that caused the swelling, bringing the swelling down. The next phase will be to apply warm compress. You can use a hand towel dipped in warm water and place it onto your cheek in the area where the swelling occurred.
As with the cold compress, repeat the process by leaving the towel on for 20 minutes and then removing it for 20 minutes for the next hour or two. This will help in bringing the swelling down as you apply this two more times during the next 24 hours.
At this point, warm soup would be the recommended food for you. Just make sure it’s warm and not hot as it may remove the clot formed in the extraction area.
So, should you eat ice cream after a tooth extraction? By all means! Eat up and enjoy! In this case it’s not just comfort food, it’s also good therapy. Just make sure it’s only for the first 24 hours.
Alexis Thompson is a former Mountain Backpacker and a 26 year old mother of 2 daughters, Sophie and Rhian. She is into almost all types of Music especially The Fray and Hillsong. She also has a passion in Singing and Scrap Booking. Follow her escapades on her Twitter.