Having a tooth extracted is never exactly a joyful occasion, but if it ends a long period of pain or discomfort, it can be a welcome procedure. Since your dentist will use local or general anesthesia, so you don’t feel any pain during the extraction, it’s much more likely that you’ll face an issue during recovery instead. Understanding the timeline of healing after a tooth extraction will prepare you for the process and alert you when something isn’t going to plan.
Size and Complexity
First, understand that every mouth and tooth is different so that healing can go faster or slower depending on factors out of your control. A surgical extraction takes longer to heal than a simple one, and a large molar or wisdom tooth leaves a bigger wound than a small baby tooth. In general, extraction sites tend to close up within one to two weeks, and complete healing is usually achieved by the end of a month.
The first 24 hours after an extraction usually involves enough discomfort and swelling you’ll need to rest from your usual activities. For surgical extractions, your dentist may extend this rest period to 48 or 72 hours. You should develop a strong blood clot by the end of the first day and experience little to no more bleeding. If you still have heavy bleeding, you’ll need to talk to your dentist.
Any stitches or sutures used during the extraction will usually start loosening or dissolving by the end of the first week. Oral tissue heals rapidly, so if you’ve reached the middle of the first week and are still having intermittent bleeding or don’t see signs of the site closing up, discuss your concerns with your dentist. Prompt action at the first sign of sluggish healing can prevent a painful and difficult to treat infection and bone damage.
While large openings may still be visible by the end of the second week, you should be on the road to recovery and have little to no dry socket risks at this point. The color of the gum tissue should be stabilizing, with very little to no red wound visible at this point. You may still experience some tenderness and swelling, especially if stitches remained in place through the second week. Continue to check the gum area daily in the mirror until you no longer see any signs of the extraction sites. A visual inspection helps you decide if a little soreness is normal or linked to a deeper problem.
Many dental patients worry the weeks after an extraction because an indention may remain in the gum tissue for quite some time. Unless you can see an opening into the gum tissue below, even a deep indention is normal because the tissue takes some time to fill in the area where the tooth and root once sat. Of course, it’s always a good idea to have your doctor do a quick inspection if you’re experiencing soreness.