How long will it take to heal after a tooth extraction? The recovery time differs from patient to patient, but you can take steps to ensure a healthy healing process. A wisdom tooth extraction may take longer to heal, and patients with certain health conditions may also experience symptoms for a prolonged period. Here are some guidelines on what to expect regarding tooth extraction healing time and tips on making a speedy recovery.
What Happens After a Tooth Extraction?
The socket left in the gum after a tooth extraction passes through three stages as it heals. An article in the Journal of Dentofacial Anomalies and Orthodontics explains that the first stage is the inflammatory phase. The gum becomes inflamed, a blood clot forms inside the socket and granulation tissue forms over the wound. New tissue usually replaces the clot within a week after the procedure. Following this process is the proliferative phase, when the wound begins to close. The final stage is the maturation phase. The cells in the site form new structures and bony networks, and connective tissue, called collagen, which populates the healing area.
Total Tooth Extraction Healing Time
After three or four days, you'll likely still experience some swelling and mild discomfort, as the University of Utah explains. After the fifth day, patients typically have reduced swelling and can begin resuming a normal diet. However, it may take up to two weeks for the swelling to fully disappear. At the two-week mark, you will typically visit your dental provider again for a post-operative checkup. At that time, they will assess your healing to ensure you're having a successful recovery.
Each individual undergoing a tooth extraction will experience a different healing time. As the Journal of Dentofacial Anomalies and Orthodontics article notes, certain factors may affect your recovery and total extraction healing time, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Oral radiation treatment
- Your biological profile
- Certain medications
- HIV or another condition causing a weakened immune system
If you are concerned about any of these factors or are worried your extraction site is taking too long to heal, speak with your dental provider.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction Healing Time
The healing time following a wisdom tooth extraction may last several weeks, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. After removal of these large molar teeth at the back of the mouth, the gums and bone will take some time to fully heal, and the soft tissue may be sensitive for a few weeks. Some patients may only experience discomfort for a few days, and others may feel little to no discomfort.
Tips for a Speedy Recovery
To speed up your tooth extraction healing time, you can take measures to protect the open socket and avoid disturbing the blood clot. The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport (LSU Health Shreveport) recommends not rinsing your mouth or drinking through a straw for 24 hours after the extraction. On the second day, gently rinse your mouth with a solution of one teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water. By the third day, the University of Utah recommends resuming brushing your teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing, but avoid vigorous spitting or rinsing.
Don't avoid eating, but choose soft foods and chew on the side of your mouth that is opposite from the extraction site. If your cheek swells up, LSU Health Shreveport advises that you should hold a cold pack to the site for half an hour, then remove it for half an hour. If the swelling continues longer than 24 hours after the extraction, use a hot pack in the same way. You should not smoke or use any tobacco products for at least three days following the procedure.
A tooth extraction is traumatic to your mouth, but your body begins the healing process quickly. After a few days, you may even momentarily forget you've undergone the dental procedure. Treat the site of the extraction gently and follow your dentist's advice for the fastest healing and best outcome.