The Tooth Extraction Healing Timeline – What to Expect

Tooth extractions can be required for a variety of reasons. Typically, tooth extractions are performed to remove wisdom teeth. Most people don’t have enough space in their mouths for their wisdom teeth, so pulling them is advised in order to prevent teeth shifting, pain, and other problems.

Teeth may also need to be extracted if they have been seriously damaged by a traumatic injury, or in cases of advanced tooth decay or periodontal disease.

As your mouth heals from your extraction, some side effects can occur. These side effects are only temporary. They include:

  • Swelling
  • Minor pain
  • Bleeding
  • Tenderness
  • Soreness

No matter what your specific reason may be, if you’re having a tooth pulled you may be wondering what to expect, and how long it will take to recover from your extraction. Here’s a few things to keep in mind during post-op care:

The First 24 Hours

During the first 24 hours after your tooth has been pulled, several things will happen. Blood clots will begin to form, and the sutures in your mouth will help the tissue begin to heal.

You will likely experience some minor pain and bleeding during the first 24 hours of your recovery process. Typically, you’ll be given a prescription for a pain reliever to aid you through this process.

Usually, you’ll be able to return to non-strenuous activities, such as driving and working an office job, within a day of the surgery. However, athletic activities may be limited, and workers in active positions may need to take extra time off.

Swelling also tends to peak at around 24 hours post-surgery. This can be treated with ice packs applied externally to the face, and should subside rather quickly. If pain and bleeding continue and persist for 2-3 days, see your dentist to ensure there are no complications with your procedure.

1-2 Days Post Extraction

The first two days after your extraction require the most care, as this is when your mouth is doing a majority of its healing. It's perfectly normal to experience a low level amount of bleeding and some soreness at the extraction site. Since these two days are crucial to your extraction recovery, we suggest:

  • Getting plenty of rest: Expect to rest for at least the first 24 hours post-extraction.
  • Change gauze: Make sure to leave the first gauze in for a few hours to let the blood clot form. After that, you can change your gauze as often as necessary.
  • Take pain medication: Your doctor may prescribe you more powerful pain medication for larger extractions (like molars or wisdom teeth) depending on your medical history. However in some cases, over-the-counter pain relievers are enough to help with any discomfort.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking through straws: The suction needed to puff on a cigarette or drink through a straw creates pressure in the mouth that can cause complications with your blood clot. It's crucial to avoid both of these for the first few days of your healing process.
  • Elevate the head: When sleeping or resting, use additional pillows to prop your head up and avoid the pooling of blood in the mouth which can prolong healing time.

3 Days Post Extraction

After about 3 days, the empty tooth socket will have mostly healed. There should be no more bleeding present, and swelling should be minimal at this point. You may still experience some tenderness or soreness, but you should no longer feel pain or discomfort. During this stage of the healing process it is important to keep the clot in place, which requires additional hygiene procedures including:

  • Saline rinses: Gently rinse your mouth with a saline solution or warm water with salt. This will help prevent bacteria from growing in the area and prevent infection from occurring.
  • Brush and floss: You may start to brush and floss your teeth as usual, but make sure to avoid the extraction site. The saline rinse or salt water will take care of cleaning the extraction area.
  • Eating soft foods: You should plan to eat soft foods throughout the healing process to avoid food getting trapped in the socket. Popular food choices include soups, yogurt, or applesauce.

1 Week Post Extraction

After about 7-10 days, your clot should be fully formed and in place. If you had stitches placed, they will be removed if they were non-dissolving. If they were dissolving stitches, they’ll disappear on their own. If pain or bleeding are occurring during this stage of the healing process, contact your dentist to see if you need to come in for a follow up appointment.

2 Weeks Post Extraction

After about 14 days, the sockets will be almost completely healed. However, the tissue is highly vascular and tender at the extraction site. Do not brush this tissue too much, and avoid chewing too much food near the extraction site. While your socket is almost healed, there is still the chance of getting an infection or rupturing the new layer of gum tissue.

3+ Weeks Post Extraction

After 3-4 weeks, the process of healing is essentially complete. You may still feel a bit of tenderness at the site of your extraction, but this should not cause significant pain or bleeding.

At this point, you simply have to be careful not to let food or debris build up in your empty socket, so you should be brushing and flossing properly, and irrigating the socket to remove debris, if instructed to do so.

Know What To Expect And Follow All Instructions Given To You

The above timeline is just an overview. Depending on your oral health, the specifics of your recovery may differ. So, after you come to the office of Dr. Priti Naik for a tooth extraction, simply make sure that you follow all of her recovery instructions, and you’ll be completely healed in just a few weeks.

Do you think you may need tooth extractions in Vienna? Contact us now for an appointment at (703) 288-1800, or come by our office at 8230 Boone Blvd, #320, Vienna, VA 22182 to get the dental care that you need in Vienna, Tysons Corner and Mclean.

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