Healing After Tooth Extraction

Following the extraction of a tooth, it is important for patients to be familiar the healing process and understand the expected timeline. While this article will review the typical healing process and what to expect, it is important to note that the healing process may be different for some people. Numerous factors such as genetics, the patient’s oral health, and personal habits like smoking can each impact the timeline and healing process. The location of the extracted tooth and the size of the wound may also impact the overall healing process.

The following is a summary of how the body begins the healing process over the first 24 hours following a tooth extraction:

1. Blood Clot Formation: A blood clot will form in the empty socket where the tooth was removed. The clot formation then triggers the body’s natural healing process.
2. Bleeding: The bleeding from the site will eventually stop.
3. Discomfort: The pain at the site of the extraction will begin to diminish.
4. Tenderness: The area surrounding the extraction site will be sore and tender.
5. Gum Coloring: The gum tissue that surrounds the extraction site may be white.
It is common for there to be some swelling around the extraction area. In cases of complicated or challenging extractions, swelling is especially common. Swelling is typically the worst during the first 2-3 days following the extraction. Over time, it should begin to improve as new gum tissue begins to develop.

Immediately following the extraction, the socket will fill with blood and form a clot. The blood clot will usually fill the entire socket and surrounding gum tissue. The clot is comprised of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets which bond together to form a fibrin gel. The cells and platelets then begin the healing process.

With the progression of the healing process, new cells and tissues continue to form. The blood clot is a critical part of the healing process.

The amount of rest a patient will need following a tooth extraction will vary based on their unique circumstances. In most cases, the patient will need to take some time to rest at home immediately following the extraction. Resting also allows time for the bleeding to stop and for the anesthesia to wear off. All patients should be diligent in following the instructions provided by the dentist for their individual recovery.

The day after the extraction procedure, most patients are able to return to regular activities including work, school, and other non-strenuous activities. When the patient has a more complicated extraction or experiences complications, they may need additional time prior to resuming their regular activities. Patients should listen to their body and not push the recovery process. In most cases, the patient is able to resume routine activities within a few days or less.

A few weeks after surgery, the gum tissue around the extraction site completes substantial repair. Compared to the external skin on the body, oral soft tissue wounds heal rather quickly. In general, after 7-10 days of healing, gum tissue sutures can be removed. The dentist may also opt to use dissolvable sutures, which do not require removal as they will dissolve on their own. After this timeframe, the extraction site should be far improved and not cause significant discomfort or issues.

Emergency Tooth Extraction