Many of the nerves you might have about getting a tooth extraction may have to do with not knowing what to expect. But we believe that knowledge is power, and knowing more about the healing stages after a tooth extraction will give you the confidence to stay safe and healthy while you recover. So, in this post, we’ll discuss what to expect after tooth extraction, how long recovery takes, and give you additional information on resources available if you have any questions.
Tooth extraction is a very common oral surgery. It’s performed to extract wisdom teeth and remove problematic teeth causing overcrowding or teeth damaged from decay. Because of how common it is, the healing stages are well documented and don’t vary too much between patients.
The First 24 Hours
Several things begin to happen within the first 24 hours after your tooth extraction.
- The surgical site will begin to form a blood clot to promote healing. You’ll feel swelling around the area of extraction.
- The stitches or sutures in your mouth will pull together tissues and help them heal.
- You might experience some mild pain, discomfort, or bleeding, increasing as the anesthetic used during surgery wears off.
The swelling in the surgical area will increase and taper off by the 24-hour mark. You can alleviate this using ice packs.
Make sure to get plenty of rest. You’ll have to take time off of any sports or athletic activities, and also if you have a strenuous, active job. However, you can return pretty much immediately to daily activities such as working in the office or driving a car.
Days 2 to 5 After Tooth Extraction
Within the next couple of days after extraction is when you will need to be careful. The surgical site will be actively healing, and you might see white stuff nearby. This is granulation tissue that is part of your body’s natural healing process.
- Make sure to take your pain medication as prescribed. If you haven’t been prescribed any, you can take over-the-counter pain medications to help keep you comfortable. Anti-inflammatory medication can also help alleviate pain and swelling.
- Change your gauze. While leaving the gauze in at first is necessary to allow the blood clot to form, you can change it as often as you like after the second day.
- Avoid smoking or using straws. Suction in the mouth can dislodge the blood clot that’s necessary for healing.
- Sleep with an elevated head position to avoid having blood pool in your mouth, which can prolong the healing process.
- Use a saline rinse to clean the mouth and surgical area to prevent bacterial accumulation.
- Introduce soft foods that will help with nutrition and recovery as you heal. Any particulate foods can get trapped in the extraction site.
One Week After Extraction
You should not feel any pain or discomfort at this healing stage, only minor swelling that will soon subside. The clot should be almost fully formed, and any stitches should either dissolve or be removed if they were non-dissolving.
2 Weeks After Extraction
At this point, the surgical site should be ready to complete the healing process. However, as the new tissue is still delicate, avoid brushing it and chewing food in this area. A chance of infection is still present, so remain vigilant. Keep up with oral hygiene and gradually introduce semi-soft but not grainy or hard foods.
3 Weeks After Extraction
After three weeks (or a little bit more, depending on the nature of your extraction), your healing should be complete. Again, remain careful not to let any food enter the socket, and clean gently but thoroughly.
We hope this brief overview has given you an idea of what to expect as you recover from a tooth extraction. Of course, the timeline varies based on the nature of each patient and their surgery. For more accurate information based on your case, contact a qualified dentist.
Pasadena Oral Surgery offers personalized, high-quality surgery for every patient. We pride ourselves on making a difference by keeping patients comfortable through their surgery and priming them for success. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, give us a call at (281) 299-0053.