How Long Does It Take for a Socket to Heal After a Tooth Extraction?

How Long Does It Take for a Socket to Heal After a Tooth Extraction?

How Long Does It Take for a Socket to Heal After a Tooth Extraction?

A tooth extraction is a painless procedure as you’ll be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area while the tooth is removed. However, after the tooth is extracted, the area will be painful and is likely to swell up, so it’s important to stick to the aftercare guidance given by your dentist to help the wound, known as the socket, heal and prevent any complications.

Your socket should heal within 7 days of your tooth extraction, although it may take longer for some people. You can check on the socket yourself to ensure it’s healing well so you know when you can start eating and drinking as normal without risking an infection or further damaging your gum.

Most importantly, you should never attempt to extract your own teeth; the only safe way to pull a tooth is to visit a dentist as they can give you a local anaesthetic, use sterilised equipment and ensure the wound is clean before sending you home with your aftercare advice.

So what does a healthy socket look like and what do you need to be careful of after having your tooth extracted?

Essential Tooth Extraction Aftercare

Essential Tooth Extraction Aftercare

A tooth extraction is a painless procedure as you’ll be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area while the tooth is removed. However, after the tooth is extracted, the area will be painful and is likely to swell up, so it’s important to stick to the aftercare guidance given by your dentist to help the wound, known as the socket, heal and prevent any complications.

Your socket should heal within 7 days of your tooth extraction, although it may take longer for some people. You can check on the socket yourself to ensure it’s healing well so you know when you can start eating and drinking as normal without risking an infection or further damaging your gum.

Most importantly, you should never attempt to extract your own teeth; the only safe way to pull a tooth is to visit a dentist as they can give you a local anaesthetic, use sterilised equipment and ensure the wound is clean before sending you home with your aftercare advice.

So what does a healthy socket look like and what do you need to be careful of after having your tooth extracted?

Essential Tooth Extraction Aftercare

5 Things to Avoid if You Have Invisalign

When looking after your socket following a tooth extraction, there are plenty of dos and don’ts your dentist will tell you to help you heal quickly and get back to normal.

The main things to take note of are:

  • Don’t exercise intensely on the first day after your tooth extraction
  • Keep your mouth as clean as possible
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol until your socket has healed
  • Be careful with what you eat and drink

If you follow your dentist’s advice for these things, your socket should heal well and you’ll be back to normal after one week. However, if you dislodge the blood clot which protects the wound and develop a dry socket, it’s harder for the socket to heal and you will have to look after your dental hygiene and be careful of your diet for longer.

The action of spitting, drinking through a straw and smoking can dislodge the blood clot, causing a dry socket, so you should avoid each of these actions for at least 7 days following your tooth extraction, or longer if you still have some sensitivity around your gums.

You should also keep your mouth as clean as possible by brushing, flossing and rinsing with a saline solution every day from 24 hours after your tooth extraction to ensure your mouth stays clean and you don’t remove your blood clot.

Eating and Drinking After Tooth Extraction

Eating and Drinking After Tooth Extraction

When and what you can eat are important things to know to ensure your gum stays clear of bacteria and food particles as well as anything that might be painful for you to eat and prevent quick healing of the socket.

You should avoid eating or drinking anything for 3 hours after your tooth extraction to allow the blood clot, a jelly-like blob, to seal the socket and prevent bacteria and food particles from entering the wound. After 3 hours, take a painkiller like paracetamol or ibuprofen to help relieve the pain.

To avoid hurting your gums on bits of food entering the wound, you should also avoid eating:

  • Spicy food
  • Crunchy food
  • Crumbly food
  • Food with seeds
  • Very hot food

Instead, stick to soft, warm or room-temperature food like soup, mashed potato, boiled vegetables and scrambled eggs.

Certain drinks should also be avoided for at least the first 5 days to prevent causing pain or harming the blood clot, including milky drinks, hot drinks and iced drinks. All food and drink should be at room temperature or warm before consuming for your comfort and the maintenance of the blood clot.

Fizzy drinks and alcohol should be avoided for at least 7 days or until the wound has healed as they can both dissolve the blood clot, leaving you with a dry socket.

How Do You Know If Your Socket is Healing?

How Do You Know If Your Socket is Healing?

If the swelling around your mouth is going down, your gum is feeling less sensitive each day and your blood clot is slowly shrinking, then you can be sure that your socket is healing well after your tooth extraction. For the first few days following your procedure, some swelling and bruising on your cheek and jaw where the tooth has been removed is natural, so you don’t need to worry about these symptoms. However, after 4 to 5 days, the swelling should be going down and the sensitivity should be fading in a healthy healing process.

You can check the blood clot yourself with a mirror and torch; it should be a reddish-brown blob which covers the socket and shrinks slightly every day. Some white marks are normal as this is a collection of white blood cells helping to keep the area clean. However, if the area is red, very swollen, very sensitive and oozing white liquid, or you have severe toothache, swelling in your neck or ear pain, your socket is probably infected and you should see an emergency dentist as soon as possible to have the infection treated before it spreads to other teeth, your jaw or into your blood.

If there is no blood clot after your tooth extraction, or if it suddenly disappears, for example after sneezing, spitting, eating or drinking, you should also call your dental practice for advice, as there is an increased likelihood of an infection.

What is a Dry Socket?

When a blood clot does not form or disappears before the socket heals after a tooth extraction, this is known as a dry socket. When there is no blood clot to protect the gap in your gum, the nerve endings in the gum tissue and the jaw bone are exposed, which can be unbearably painful when eating and drinking hot or cold things. There is also an increased chance of developing an infection in the gum as bacteria and food particles can enter the wound site.

What to Do if Your Socket Isn’t Healing

If you have a dry socket, you should aim to keep your mouth as clean as possible by rinsing with a saline solution every day. However, if the area becomes inflamed or you have signs of an infected gum, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible to have the area treated.

Even if you have a blood clot in the area, if the socket does not show signs of healing within 4 to 5 days, i.e. it remains inflamed and painful, you may have an infection and should see your dentist again as soon as possible.

Your dentist can flush out the area, freeing it from bacteria or food particles to help it heal, before giving you a medicated gauze to bite on, or filling the hole with medicated gel to help relieve the pain. You shouldn’t leave any dental infections to heal on their own as they will spread to neighbouring teeth, warranting an emergency tooth extraction, or lead to more serious issues including sepsis and jawbone infections.

Visiting a Private Dental Practice

When you have a tooth infection or a broken or damaged tooth that needs extracting, it’s important to have it treated as quickly as possible to prevent it from worsening and causing other serious health problems. The NHS has a shortage of dental practices, so it can be very difficult to get a timely appointment; if you need emergency dental care, it’s often better to pay to see a private dentist.

Private tooth extractions are more expensive than on the NHS, however, with the more timely appointments, appointments offered at more convenient times, longer appointments to enable more thorough checks and better care, and higher quality equipment offered at private dental practices, it’s much more convenient and in your interests to join a private dental practice.

Didsbury Dental Practice – Your Trusted Dentist in Manchester

If you need a tooth extraction or urgently need to see a dentist for a dental emergency, contact Didsbury Dental Practice today to book your appointment.

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