Day-by-Day Expectations After a Tooth Extraction (Timeline)
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Table of Contents
- About Tooth Extractions
- Recovery Timeline
- How to Avoid Dry Socket
- Tips for Recovery
There are many reasons you can need to have a tooth extracted, ranging from tooth decay to overcrowding.
A tooth extraction is generally an outpatient procedure done by an oral or dental surgeon. They will place gauze on the site after removing the tooth. You are likely to bleed for the first few days after an extraction, and it is important to follow your dentist or surgeon’s aftercare instructions.
You will need to keep clean gauze on the site for the first few days after the extraction before the blood clot forms. Typically, the pain will start to ease after several days. After about a week, your clot should be formed and stable. It will generally take around two weeks for the socket to be completely healed.
The most common reasons for extracting a tooth are dental cavities and periodontal (gum) disease. Other reasons for the removal of a tooth, or a tooth extraction, can include:1
- Trauma to the bone or tooth.
- Wisdom teeth issues.
- Preparing for orthodontics or dental prosthesis.
- Baby (primary) teeth not falling out on their own.
Before the extraction, an x-ray will be taken to see what the issues are and what needs to be done. Depending on how deep the tooth is, or the extent of the damage, the extraction can either be simple or complex. A simple extraction involves pulling a tooth that is fully visible and accessible above the gumline.
During a tooth extraction, a dentist or oral surgeon will use a local anesthetic to numb the area. For more complex extractions, general anesthesia at a hospital may be needed. You will not feel pain, but you may feel pressure.
After the tooth is removed, the dentist or surgeon will place gauze on the area to slow the bleeding. You need to leave this gauze on for 20 to 30 minutes. You will be sent home with aftercare instructions.
A simple tooth extraction site should heal within 7 to 10 days as the blood clot forms solidly over the area.2 Within two weeks or so, the entire area should be mostly healed. Complicated extractions, where the tooth is in multiple pieces or that require more invasive cutting and removal, can take a little longer to heal.
In general, you can expect the following:
Immediately after the surgery
The gauze placed by the surgeon will help to soak up some of the blood. You will be given some clean gauze to replace it as it fills up.
Leave the initial gauze on as long as the surgeon instructs, to allow the blood to start clotting. Then, you will need to change it as often as it fills with blood.
You will need someone to drive you home from the procedure.
The first 24 hours after surgery
You are likely to experience some pain and discomfort for the first few days after your surgery. Over-the-counter pain medications and ice can help to reduce swelling.
You may continue to bleed for the first two days after the procedure and will need to keep changing your gauze pads.
It is important not to disturb your extraction site for the first 24 hours and to get plenty of rest. Try to elevate your head as much as possible.
One week to 10 days after your surgery
After about a week to 10 days, the blood clot should be formed and in its place. The bleeding should be finished. If you had stitches that need to be removed, your surgeon will remove them at this point. Dissolvable stitches will have dissolved by now.
You will still need to be careful with the extraction site, sticking to mostly soft foods and using saline rinses. You can brush and floss normally. Just be careful around the extraction site.
Two weeks after the procedure
Generally, in about two weeks, the extraction site is fully healed. You will still need to brush the area carefully, so you don’t disrupt the newly formed tissue.
Your dentist will meet with you to discuss dental implants or methods for filling the gap left by the removal of the tooth.
How to Avoid Dry Socket
Dry socket is a painful condition that can be a complication of a tooth extraction.3 It happens when the blood clot does not form the way it should, or it comes loose.
A dry socket can delay healing. Since nerves and bones are exposed to the air, it can cause significant pain. To prevent a dry socket, follow all aftercare instructions given by your dentist and/or surgeon.
Additionally, do not smoke or drink through straws for the first week or two after your surgery. The suction caused by these actions can cause the clot to become dislodged or not form properly.
Be careful when rinsing or spitting. Do not be too vigorous. Brush your teeth with care. Do not brush or floss the extraction site directly until it is completely healed.
After a tooth extraction, you can promote healing by following the aftercare information given to you by your surgical team. Here are some additional aftercare and recovery tips:
- Stick to soft and nutritious foods for at least the first several days.
- Avoid hot liquids.
- Try not to blow your nose or sneeze for the first few days, as the clot is setting.
- As the site heals, you can add solid foods back in. Try to eat on the opposite side of your mouth from the extraction site, and stay away from overly crunchy foods.
- After the first day, brush and floss normally. Avoid the extraction site directly initially.
- Do not smoke or use a straw.
- Starting the third or so day after your surgery, you can rinse carefully with warm salt water every few hours. This will help to both control pain and keep the mouth and site clean.
- Stay away from mouthwash containing alcohol or alcoholic beverages until the site is healed completely.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers as needed. Contact your dentist if the pain continues beyond the first week or seems to get worse.
- Use cold compresses and ice packs on the outside of your face for the first few days to reduce swelling.
- Get plenty of rest. Try to sleep with your head elevated for the first few days.
Be sure to follow all aftercare instructions and attend follow-up care appointments with your dentist and/or oral surgeon.
Reasons for Tooth Extractions and Related Risk Factors in Adult Patients: A Cohort Study. (April 2020). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Date Fetched: August 27, 2021.
1 Analysis of Tooth Extraction Causes and Patterns. (April 2020). Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences. Date Fetched: August 27, 2021.
2 Pain Experience After Simple Tooth Extraction. (May 2008). Basic and Patient-Oriented Research. Date Fetched: August 27, 2021.
3 Dry Socket. (August 2021). U.S. National Library of Medicine. Date Fetched: August 27, 2021.