Having a tooth yanked out of your mouth is not the most comfortable experience, but since anesthetics will be used to numb you during the process, most of the pain will come afterwards as you're healing. Thankfully, there are a number of steps you can take to keep yourself comfortable in the days following tooth extraction.
Keep your head up.
Whenever you lie down, make sure your head is elevated on a couple of pillows. A lot of the pain following extraction is throbbing pain, and this will become worse if your head is below or even with your heart, allowing blood and fluid to pool in the area and increase the pressure. When you've noticed that all of the swelling has dissipated, which typically takes a few days, it is safe to sleep with fewer pillows again.
Rinse with salt water.
Your dentist may instruct you to rinse with salt water in order to keep the extraction site from becoming infected, but you can do this whenever you feel the pain creeping in, too. The salt helps draw extra fluid out of the healing tissues, which reduces the pressure on pain-sensitive nerve endings. Just stir a spoonful of salt into a cup of warm water, and swish away.
Hold ice against your face.
If you notice that it's not just your gums, but also your cheeks that are swelling, try holding an ice pack against the outside of your face. The ice will reduce swelling and numb your pain somewhat. In fact, using a bag of frozen peas works even better than an ice pack, since the peas mold around your face.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, can be taken as directed on the bottle to ward off pain. Ibuprofen and naproxen are both available over-the-counter and are good choices. Avoid aspirin, since it may thin your blood and increase bleeding at the extraction site. If your tooth was badly impacted, your dentist may even prescribe opiate-based pain medications for you to take. Make sure you take these only when your pain is at its worst (they're addictive and have a lot of side effects) and try to stick to milder, over-the-counter NSAIDS otherwise.
Having a tooth extracted is painful, but the majority of the pain should subside within a few days. To learn more about managing your discomfort, speak with a dentist like Dr. Peter L Drob.