If you are like the majority of people, then you may have had to go through the experience of extracting teeth whether due to a wisdom tooth or some other issue. The process may induce some anxiety of unanswered questions about the process.

This article will help to understand what happens during the healing process after a tooth extraction. We'll also talk about the steps that can be taken to quicken the rate of healing, situations of when a dentist may need to be contacted, and some FAQs about the process.

Tooth extraction healing time

Simple tooth

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

The amount of time you'll need to recover after tooth extraction can vary somewhat depending on the type of procedure performed and if there are any complications that arise.

The mouth heals itself quickly, so a simple, routine removal with no complications could convalesce in less than two weeks. However, a more complex surgical extraction may require more than two weeks to completely heal.

First 24 hours

The first 24 hours are expectedly the most active part of the healing process after a tooth extraction. This is where the majority of the healing will be done to close the open tooth socket. It can be expected that the wound will not fully close itself in the first day or so and will have small amounts of bleeding for a day or two.

It is important to take special care in the first 24 hours to not put any strain on the gums through actions such as chewing or sucking through a straw. Doing so may be painful to perform, and it also may jeopardize the proper healing process. Prescription medication might be advised for the pain and tenderness after the procedure, but in many instances using an over-the-counter pain reliever will suffice.

Swelling and inflammation of the gums are also common and will take several days to reduce. Be sure to follow the recommendations from your dentist to brush, rinse, floss, and replace the gauze when necessary. Applying an ice pack for short amounts of time to the area may also be helpful.

First week

First week At this point, you can expect the wound to have closed. Additionally, any swelling should also have subsided after about four to five days.

Even though the inflammation has decreased by this time, there can still be noticeable amounts of tenderness in the area. The pain should be at a reduced level where medication is no longer required or is manageable enough to use an over-the-counter pain medication.

Second week (and later)

By the beginning of the second week, you can expect the wound to be near completion of the healing stage. The direct area of healing should still be soft and tender, but free of any swelling.

It is still important to follow the recommendations of the dentist at this stage. Any harsh brushing or large strain on the area may result in the breaking of the healing layers that were created over the course of the week. This may also cause infections to the area if exposed to foreign objects over prolonged periods of time.

How can I make my tooth extraction heal faster?

While you should review the home-care instructions with your dentist, the following is a list that applies to most extraction cases.

  • Keep the gauze in place until the bleeding stops.

  • Be sure to replace gauze when necessary.

  • Get plenty of rest. Getting rest gives energy to the area of the wound. 

  • Avoid intense physical movements and actions. Any strain on the area may cause the hole to open.

  • Do not repeatedly touch the wound. Moving around gauze may increase the recovery time it would take to heal. 

  • Take the medication as prescribed by the dentist. Some variations of pain relievers will thin the blood, reducing the effect of the healing process. 

  • No drinking or smoking. Alcohol is known for increasing the time it takes to form clots, and smoking introduces harmful contaminants to the wound, causing additional inflammation. 

  • Do not use mouthwash. It contains alcohol, and also the swishing action may cause strain on the gums. You can gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water, using eight ounces of water mixed with a half teaspoon of salt.

  • Be careful of what you consume. Anything with a hard or chewy texture will create unnecessary strain and chances of getting objects into the wound. Do not consume spicy food. Lukewarm, soft foods are recommended. 

  • Stay hydrated. The healing process relies on having water in your system. Be careful on the temperature of the liquids - something cold will create shock and something hot will dissolve clotting. Straws will also create tension on the wound.

When to consult with a dentist after tooth removal?

It is important to listen to your doctor's recommendations and instructions on what to do or how to respond in certain situations. For reference, a more common circumstance when a doctor may need to be contacted is if excessive bleeding continues past an initial 48-hour period or if swelling continues without reduction after the first few days.

If you are having severe pain, you may have a dry socket. It will be helpful to schedule a follow-up appointment with the doctor and ask for advice on how best to manage the situation.

FAQ

How long does it take the hole to close after tooth extraction?

After about 48 hours, the area of extraction should be nearly closed and have greatly reduced bleeding from the wound.

What is the white stuff in tooth extraction?

The white material that tears from the area around the extraction area is called granulation tissue. Just like healing from any scrapes or cuts on any other parts of the body, granulation tissue is a mixture of collagen, white blood cells, and red blood cells that are created after a blood clot is formed.

How long does pain last after tooth extraction?

In short, no more than a few days. If persistent pain continues then it may be advisable to contact the dentist. It can still be expected to have mild tenderness for the first week, slowly decreasing over the course of the next two or three weeks.

References

  1. Influence of surgicel gauze on the incidence of dry socket after wisdom tooth extraction - WHO
  2. Extractions - Mouth Healthy
  3. Tooth extraction: a few simple guidelines - Mouth Healthy
  4. A bleeding socket after tooth extraction - BMJ