One service our dental practice offers is tooth extraction. We often recommend this procedure due to health or overall appearance concerns. In general, this is usually a relatively quick, procedure which is performed right in our dental office.
Our doctor and dental staff will carefully explain all aspects of the procedure and answer your questions, so you are comfortable about the extraction. We will also discuss how to care for the affected area in your mouth and advise you on the best types of food to eat. After leaving our office, here is what you should expect during the tooth extraction healing process.
What should a tooth extraction look like when it’s healing?
Healing from a tooth extraction is a natural process that usually occurs in several stages:
- What your mouth should look like on the day of a tooth extraction: Initially you may notice swollen cheeks, and may experience some minor bleeding and pain. Your gums may turn white around the extraction area, but this should fade after a few days. Something white may form in the tooth socket but, in most cases, this is granulation tissue. This is part of the healing process and is generally not a cause for concern. If you experience severe pain, however, it may be the sign of a dry socket or infection. Notify our office for further instructions.
- What your mouth should look like within 24 hours after a tooth extraction: A blood clot should be fully formed in the socket to stop any further bleeding. Be careful to avoid dislodging this clot. Swelling and pain should begin to diminish.
- What your mouth should look like 3 days after a tooth extraction: By this time, your gum should begin to heal. It will start closing around the removal site.
- What your mouth should look like 7-10 days after a tooth extraction: The hole left by the extracted tooth should be almost completely closed by now. Dissolving stitches should disappear. Your gums should no longer be swollen or tender, and you should be able to resume normal oral hygiene procedures.
We may bring you back to our office for a follow-up appointment, so we can check that everything is healing properly. For most patients, this will be the end of the process, although healing may take longer for a more complicated procedure. We may also discuss any recommended next steps to fill the hole left in your mouth, to prevent movement of surrounding teeth, or to maintain facial appearance.
How can I promote healing after a tooth extraction?
Your individual course of care may vary based on the specific type of extraction we perform. Do not remove any gauze placed in the socket for several hours. We will also provide in-depth instructions for what you should do at home to promote healing:
- Food Intake: We generally recommend soft foods for the first few days after a tooth extraction. This reduces the possibility of irritating sensitive gum tissue that was affected during the procedure.
- Liquid Intake: It is best not to sip liquids through a straw, as this may dislodge the helpful blood clot that forms around the extraction site. Initially, you may just want to swirl some liquid in your mouth and let it fall out. After 24 hours, you can gargle with a warm water/salt mixture to eliminate bacteria.
- Pain Management: Our medical staff will advise you of medications and provide other tips that will help ease any pain you experience. You can ice your cheek for about 10-15 minutes a few times per day to reduce swelling.
- Activity: Give your mouth and body a chance to recuperate from the procedure by limiting your activity for the first 24 hours. Sleep with your head propped up by pillows. Avoid smoking during the recovery period.
- Oral Hygiene: Continue brushing and flossing your teeth, as this helps to fight infection and promotes healing, but avoid irritating the extraction site.
Can a tooth extraction get infected while healing?
Although we usually prescribe antibiotics, antiseptic mouthwash and recommend other precautions, it is possible for a tooth extraction to get infected while healing. You may notice pus or other signs of infection including:
- Continued swelling beyond the first few days
- Increasing pain
- Bad Breath
- Unusual taste
- Ongoing bleeding
If you believe you have an infection, contact our dental office, so we can confirm its presence and prescribe any appropriate steps and possible additional medications.
How long does it take to fully heal after a tooth extraction?
While each case is different, it generally takes most patients about 7-10 days for their mouth to heal from the tooth extraction. It is important that you follow our instructions carefully to promote prompt healing. Continue to follow the instructions we provide for care and pain relief.
If you feel ill, experience excessive bleeding, notice that the pain has not diminished appreciably, or suspect an infection during your recovery, do not hesitate to contact our office. Our staff will provide additional direction, or determine if a follow-up appointment is needed.
To learn more about some common questions that are asked by our patients about tooth extraction, visit our education page on the subject. We have taken all the questions that our patients commonly ask and had them answered by our dentists and oral surgeons.