If you've gotten teeth pulled — wisdom, molars, or otherwise — then you know you end up with holes in your gums where the tooth once was. You've probably found yourself wondering, just how long does it take the hole to close after tooth extraction?
Ultimately, your healing time will depend on the type of extraction. But, you can count on the hole closing after a few weeks and being completely healed within one to four months.
The healing time will depend on if it was a simple extraction or surgical extraction, as well as whether it was a small front tooth or something more complicated like a molar or wisdom tooth.
We've got answers to all your questions below on how to know if your teeth extraction is healing, including tips to prevent dry socket for faster recovery, and what to do if food gets stuck in the hole. We'll also talk about the normal overall timeline for healing.
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How do I know if my tooth extraction is healing properly?
A common concern after tooth extraction is knowing if you're following the right instructions and your extraction site is healing properly. Of course, you want the hole to close as soon as possible. At that point, you can return to eating normal foods and using straws again.
Right after the tooth extraction, a blood clot should form over the hole. This will stop the bleeding and start the healing process. It's important not to dislodge the clot so that you can heal completely. As long as you are not bleeding and your blood clot is in place, you are on the road to recovery!
When can I stop worrying about dry socket?
After your tooth extraction, you are at risk for dry socket, especially during the first week, until you heal completely. So, you will want to make sure you don't get dry socket throughout recovery.
Dry socket can happen if you accidentally dislodge the blood clot or if it just never formed. The clot helps to protect the wound so that it can heal and new tissue can grow.
How will I know if I have dry socket?
Dry socket is the most common complication that can occur after a wisdom tooth or non-wisdom tooth removal. If you get dry socket, chances are you'll know that something is wrong.
Dry socket symptoms can include:
- Pain that doesn't go away by taking medications
- No blood clot
- Exposed bone in the tooth socket
- A bad taste, smell, or seeing pus — these could all be signs of an infection
It's important to understand that being swollen and experiencing discomfort the day of and after surgery is normal, particularly if you have a more difficult procedure like having wisdom teeth removed. If the swelling or pain doesn't get better, or you experience any of the symptoms above, you should call your dental surgeon with your concerns.
Steps to prevent dry socket
By following the instructions from your dentist, you should be able to reduce the amount of time it takes to heal as well as prevent complications like dry socket.
You will want to be sure to keep gauze on the extraction site for a little while right after your surgery to help the blood clot form. The clot is essential for tooth extractions to heal properly.
It's also a good idea to eat only soft foods and liquids for a few days after surgery so that you don't dislodge the clot.
For the first 24 hours following tooth removal, you should:
- Not smoke (this includes smoking e-cigarettes)
- Avoid hard foods that can get stuck in the socket
- Avoid very hot liquids and foods
- Not spit, use a straw to drink, or do anything else that will create a sucking motion with your mouth
- Gently rinse your oral cavity with warm salt water
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Use ice packs for swelling
What happens if food gets stuck in the extraction site?
After you eat food post-surgery, it's likely that some may get in the extraction hole. Resist the temptation to pick the food out of the hole or holes. This could dislodge the blood clot. If the blood clot gets dislodged, it will cause you to bleed more and extend your healing time. This includes using your fingers, tongue, toothpicks, or floss to try and get the food out.
Here are some things you can try:
- Gently rinse your mouth with warm saltwater and swish it around
- Use a water pick, aiming the water into the area where the food is (but be careful not to do it too harshly or you could dislodge the clot)
Why is there a hole after wisdom teeth removal?
When you have your wisdom teeth extracted, you will be left with sore or painful holes in your mouth where the wisdom teeth were before. The pain should subside quickly. And although it may seem a little strange to have holes in your mouth, after several weeks, new tissue will grow and fill in the sockets.
You will want to make sure and keep the holes protected so that your oral health can improve faster. Because wisdom teeth removal requires a surgical extraction, it is more complicated and requires more care in order to heal.
Tooth extraction healing time
Usually, the healing process for the soft tissue will take between 3 to 4 weeks, and the hole should be completely closed by around 6 weeks. How quickly it closes depends on different factors, like how well you cared for it and how extensive the procedure was.
Simple extraction of a small front tooth will heal faster than having molars pulled, and surgical extraction of a wisdom tooth will take the longest time to heal.
Within 24 to 48 hours after the tooth extraction, a blood clot forms over the site. The formation of the clot is very important because it helps to keep the hole clean and free of food and bacteria.
This is the key to beginning a healthy recovery. Your gum tissue and new bone will begin to form. Any bleeding you have should stop at this point, though your mouth will likely still be tender to the touch near the extraction site.
Within 2 weeks or perhaps 3 weeks, the hole will begin to close and any stitches will either be removed or dissolved, depending on the type of stitches.
Of course, it will vary depending on the type of extraction. Larger extractions will take more time to close than smaller extractions. Impacted wisdom teeth can take a lot longer to heal than non-wisdom teeth. This is because both your gum tissue and jawbone have to heal.
And finally, around 1 to 4 months after surgery, the hole should be completely healed.
The healing process after having a tooth or teeth pulled can take several weeks, but with proper care and following directions from your dentist, you should be on your road to recovery quite quickly.
Now that you know how long it takes the hole to close after extraction, it's important to remember to care for the hole by keeping it clean and being gentle with it, trying to prevent dry socket and avoid getting food stuck in the sockets.