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Though our teeth are meant to be permanent, many adults must have a tooth removed at some point. Tooth extraction can be necessary for many reasons, like in the case of crowded teeth, gum disease, or impacted wisdom teeth. 

While the procedure may seem like the most daunting part of the process, what you do after a tooth extraction is even more critical, as proper aftercare is crucial to avoiding infection. So how do you know if your tooth extraction is healing? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Tooth Extraction Healing Time

The total tooth extraction healing time depends on the location of the tooth and the type of extraction performed, but you can expect it to fully heal in seven to ten days. In the case of more complicated extractions, healing time maybe two to three weeks. 

Tooth Extraction Healing Stages

You can expect to go through four tooth extraction healing stages:

  1. Stage 1: Stage one consists of the first 24 hours after the extraction, and this is when blood clotting begins. Some pain and discomfort are normal during stage one, as is light bleeding. Expect swelling to peak during the first 24 hours.  
  2. Stage 2: Stage two comprises the 24 to 48 hours following extraction, and the attention in stage two turns to the clot that has formed in the tooth’s socket. Platelets in the clot begin to produce chemical factors that promote the healing process, and swelling starts to subside. 
  3. Stage 3: During stage three, which is roughly 72 hours after removal, the gum tissue begins to close around the extraction site. 
  4. Stage 4: Stage four is the final healing stage, which happens around seven to ten days after the procedure. By this point, the hole left from the extraction has closed in most cases, though recovery time for larger teeth like molars can take a bit longer.  

Tips to Speed Up Healing Time

Like we mentioned above, every recovery is different and varies according to the tooth location and the amount and type of extraction performed, but here are the top aftercare tips you should follow to speed up healing time.

  • Take the pain medication prescribed by your dentist. If they don’t prescribe you any pain medication, you can take an over-the-counter one like ibuprofen or paracetamol.
  • Ice the area for up to fifteen minutes, making sure to wait at least fifteen minutes before applying the ice pack again.
  • Leave the gauze your dentist placed in your mouth for about three to four hours after the procedure. Apply pressure in the first thirty minutes by biting down on the gauze. 
  • After the first 24 hours have passed, you can begin to rinse your mouth twice a day with a salt mouthwash. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water, stir, and rinse. 

Things You Can Do After Tooth Extraction

Though the area will be tender, there are certain things you can do following tooth extraction:

  • Keep the area clean by brushing, while avoiding the extraction site
  • Eat and drink lukewarm foods as you would, but avoid biting down on the extraction site. Nourishing foods like purees and liquids are recommended, such as soup, yogurt, applesauce, soft noodles, and pudding. Smoothies are also excellent for getting nutrients as long as you eat them with a spoon
  • Get plenty of rest to facilitate healing 
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash to help avoid infection 
A-Dental Center - tooth extraction healing

PHOTO by US Air Force licensed under CC BY 2.0

Things to Avoid After Tooth Extraction

While uncommon, dry socket is a problem that some patients suffer from the following extraction. This painful condition is when the blood clot that has formed in the socket dislodges before the extraction site has fully healed. To avoid this situation, as well as infections, and to promote healing, you should abstain from the following things after tooth extraction:

  • Smoking
  • Driving (if general anesthesia was used)
  • Sleeping flat on your back 
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Rinsing the area for the first 24 hours
  • Spitting or using a straw for the first 24 hours
  • Hot food or drinks 
  • Aspirin (this could worsen bleeding)

What Should a Tooth Extraction Look Like When Healing?

Many patients find it difficult to know if their tooth extraction is healing correctly. In the first few days, you can expect to experience things like light bleeding, swelling, and some mild pain or discomfort as the effects of the anesthesia diminish. Discoloration or bruising is also standard, as is experiencing a sore throat and stiff jaw. 

Some patients also feel bits of tooth fragment working their way out of the socket. This is normal, and they should come out on their own (if there are any fragments). If they don’t come out by themselves, see your dentist.

Overall, you want to monitor the area to make sure that there is improvement every day, which is the goal during the healing process. It’s helpful to look at tooth extraction healing pictures that correspond to the stage you’re to get a better idea of what the extraction site should look like. 

If you have any concerns about whether or not your recovery is favorable, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist. Most patients heal from tooth extraction with no issue, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

When You Should Call Your Dentist

As we mentioned, tooth extraction healing takes several days. It’s essential to understand what proper healing looks like, so schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately if you notice any of the following signs: 

  • Fever
  • Severe swelling that does not go down after a few days  
  • Severe pain
  • Numbness
  • A bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away after a salt water rinse
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Pus coming from the socket

Wisdom Teeth Extraction North Hollywood

In the hands of a professional, wisdom teeth extraction becomes a whole lot easier. If you’ve noticed your wisdom teeth coming through, it’s time to schedule a visit with your North Hollywood dentist for a consultation. You’ll be in great hands with our experienced professionals and receive the wisdom tooth care you need.