We all have a permanent set of teeth that serves us to eat and speak appropriately for or entire life. However, some people may experience dental conditions that compromise the tooth’s health and necessitates a tooth extraction procedure.
Tooth extraction is a surgical procedure of removing a dead or decayed tooth that cannot be saved by any other dental treatment. Additionally, impacted or unerupted wisdom teeth are also often extracted to maintain the harmony between teeth and gums.
Removal of a tooth often leaves a space in the socket which heals throughout one to two week. During this time, the gums join together to close the space in the jaw. Moreover, bone development occurs over the next few months. It is essential to maintain proper oral hygiene and take precautions to allow rapid healing of the extraction site.
Today’s article will highlight the process of healing after tooth extraction. Furthermore, we will discuss the precautionary measures you must take to allow rapid healing.
What is tooth extraction?
Tooth removal is a surgical, dental procedure that involves pulling out of teeth from the gums and alveolar bone. Usually, an oral surgeon or a general dentist performs this treatment after taking a detailed patient history. Usually, extractions are performed to remove teeth that are beyond repair or unrestorable. (1)
The procedure involves the administration of local anesthesia followed by luxation of the tooth with specialized elevators. Finally, the tooth is removed using an extraction forceps. The dentist may then place a pack of gauze to stop bleeding from the extraction site. Moreover, pain killers and antibiotics may be prescribed to allow healing.
What is the purpose of tooth extraction?
Some of the common dental conditions which may require tooth extraction include –
- Grossly decayed tooth
- A large cavity that is beyond repair by tooth filling
- Tooth fracture
- Advanced gum disease that has loosened the tooth from the alveolar bone
- Orthodontic tooth removal
- Wisdom tooth removal
- Tooth infection
How long does it take to heal after tooth extraction?
Typically, the time for healing of an extraction site may vary from one patient to another. On average, the first 48-72 hours are crucial for recovery after tooth removal. After this period, patients are usually allowed to resume physical activities. However, the gums and soft tissue may take at least 3-4 weeks to heal completely.
Some of the factors that may influence the healing after tooth extraction may include –
- The number of teeth removed—additionally, the location of the tooth.
- Whether the tooth removed was healthy or infected.
- The number of roots the tooth had. Usually, upper molars leave a considerable space behind because they have three roots. (2)
- Whether the extraction process was difficult or traumatic
- Whether the patient is following post-extraction instructions or not
The best way is to stay in touch with your dentist and get a follow-up check on the extraction site’s healing process.
How does the extraction site heal after tooth removal?
Typically, the healing after tooth removal occurs in four distinct stages –
- First 24 hours post-extraction – this period is exceptionally crucial and determines the continuous healing of the extraction site. The blood clot forms during this period ensuring proper recovery of gums. (3)
- 24-48 hours post-extraction – this process is also known as tissue granulation, which typically occurs after blood clot formation. You may notice a white or cream-colored granulation tissue forming in the extraction site at this stage.
- Seventy-two hours post-extraction – after three days, the gums start to close and cover the extraction site.
- 7-10 days post-extraction – by this time, the gums heal entirely and cover the entire extraction site. However, the bone formation may continue after this. (4)
What precautions should you take for rapid healing?
As mentioned earlier, Stage 1 of the healing process usually begins within a few minutes of the tooth removal from the bony socket. At the end of the procedure, the dentist applies a gauze pack to the socket to stop bleeding. Moreover, the dentist will check for any sharp bony edges and smoothen it out.
A non-resorbable suture may be placed to help the gum heal faster and reduce the risk of bleeding. If a patient is at a higher risk of infection, the dentist may also pack an antiseptic dressing into the socket.
Before you leave the dental office, the dentist will explain the post-extraction instructions on how to best care for your mouth after tooth extraction. Moreover, they will guide you to allow the proper healing process.
Usually, Stages 2 to 4 of the healing process occur at home, away from the dentist’s office.
Some of the precautions that you might want to consider for proper healing are as follows-
- Avoid brushing or flossing around the extraction site for the first few days.
- Avoid using a straw
- Do not rinse the mouth or spit for the first 24 hours.
- Avoid smoking, as it increases the chances of oral infection (5)
- Limit physical activity to prevent dislodgement of the clot
- Sleep with the head in an elevated position to prevent bleeding
- Use a cold compress and prescribed medications to control pain and swelling.
Take away message
Tooth extraction is one of the most dreadful dental procedures which involves removing the tooth from the gums and alveolar bone. It is typically performed to treat conditions that leave the teeth beyond repair, such as extensive tooth infection, tooth fracture, orthodontic tooth removal, and wisdom tooth infection.
While the procedure may take a few minutes, the healing after tooth removal takes at least 3-4 weeks. The first 48-72 hours are crucial for proper healing as it has the highest risk of blood clot dislodgement. Typically, the healing process after tooth extraction occurs in four stages leading to adequate closure of the gums.
It is essential to follow the post-extraction instructions very carefully to avoid unnecessary damage to the healing site.