How Long Does It Take the Hole to Close After a Tooth Extraction?
When you’ve had a tooth extracted, the dentist won’t fill the hole unless you’ve arranged for a dental implant, but they’ll leave it to close up and heal over. The process of the hole healing over from a surgical tooth extraction can take up to 7 weeks for it to fully heal, but this doesn’t mean you’ve got to be careful with what you eat because of a gaping hole in your mouth for all that time. You should be able to eat and drink as normal around 7 days after your tooth is removed, but you should still be careful if you have any sensitivity in the area.
Let’s take a closer look at the procedure, how to arrange it as an emergency and what you can and can’t do afterwards to help the hole in your gum heal over well.
What Happens When Your Tooth Is Extracted
When you have a tooth extracted, the dentist will inject your gum with a local anaesthetic to prevent you from feeling any pain in the area during the procedure, before pulling your tooth and its root out from your gum. The procedure is mostly painless, but you may find it uncomfortable to open your mouth wide if the tooth being removed is at the back of your mouth, and you may feel some pressure being put on the surrounding teeth as the dentist wiggles your damaged tooth free.
If the wound site is large, such as from a wisdom tooth extraction, you may have some stitches to close the hole, otherwise, you will just be given a wad of cloth to bite down on for a few minutes to put pressure on the wound and prevent it from bleeding. This helps a blood clot form, so the site can heal easily. Sometimes the wound can still bleed gently for up to 24 hours afterwards, which is perfectly normal. But if you experience heavy bleeding or the wound continues to bleed for a few days, this may be a sign that the wound is not healing, and you should contact your dentist for advice.
Your dentist will then give you care instructions for the hole in your gum, and make an appointment for you to have your stitches removed if necessary. The next time you have a dental appointment, ideally every 6 months, your dentist will take a look at the wound site and ensure everything has healed well, unless you see them before.
Is Wisdom Tooth Removal the Same Process?
Having a wisdom tooth removed is usually the same process as having any other teeth extracted, however, if the tooth hasn’t grown through, the procedure might be slightly different. Sometimes, when there isn’t room for wisdom teeth to grow through as normal, they grow at any angle and can push into your other teeth, known as impacted teeth.
In this case, your dentist will have to surgically remove your teeth by opening the gum and removing the tooth from your jaw. This is also done under local anaesthetic so is not a painful procedure, but you will experience some pain once the anaesthetic has worn off, so you should take painkillers according to your dentist’s guidance.
What You Can and Can’t Do After a Tooth Extraction
Immediately after your tooth extraction, you shouldn’t eat or drink for up to 3 hours while the anaesthetic wears off. After 3 hours you can eat and drink, but you should be careful what you consume as some products will cause you pain or irritate the wound to prevent it from healing. Some things to avoid for the first day and be wary around for the first 72 hours include:
- Hot drinks
- Very cold drinks
- Fizzy drinks
- Spicy foods
- Crunchy foods
- Crumbly foods
Instead, try to stick to softer foods like mashed potato, scrambled eggs and soup, and make sure that they’re not too hot when you eat them. You should also avoid alcohol and cigarettes from at least the first week after your tooth extraction, as these can disturb the blood clot and prevent the wound from healing.
Your dentist will also give you instructions on how to clean your mouth for the first few days following your tooth extraction. You should avoid brushing your teeth, using mouthwash or spitting for the first 24 hours after your tooth extraction, as each of these actions can move the clot and cause the wound to bleed again, prolonging the healing process. After the first day, you can brush the surrounding teeth, being careful to avoid the hole from the tooth extraction.
On the first day, you should also avoid intense exercise as this increased flow can cause further bleeding from the hole in your gum.
After the first few days, you can begin to clean your teeth and rinse gently with mouthwash or salt water, and continue as normal after one week.
Can You Drink Milk After Tooth Extraction?
Some dentists recommend avoiding dairy products, in particular milk, after having a tooth extraction, and there is some science behind this. In some countries, including the UK, milk is not boiled to the same degree as in other countries, so, even though it is pasteurised, milk contains some lactic acid bacteria. This bacteria may cause an infection in the fresh wound in your mouth following the tooth extraction, so it’s best to avoid milk and milky products for a few days following your tooth extraction to be on the safe side.
Emergency Tooth Extraction
No one plans to have toothache or break a tooth and need it removed, but tooth extraction isn’t always considered an emergency. If the pain from your tooth goes away after taking painkillers and it’s not disrupting your daily life significantly, you won’t normally be able to get an emergency tooth extraction appointment. But if your toothache is unbearable, it’s preventing you from sleeping, working or eating well and won’t go away even after taking painkillers, you should contact an emergency dentist near you and get an appointment for an emergency tooth extraction as soon as possible.
Most towns and cities have emergency or out-of-hours dentists so you should call yours or ask 111 to get their details if you’re not sure what to do about your toothache. GPs cannot help you with tooth problems, as they are strictly for routine medical care for other parts of your body. Hospitals also cannot help with dental care or tooth pain, unless you’re suffering from a severe issue which is causing a risk to your life.
A dental emergency that requires you to call an ambulance or head directly to your nearest A&E includes:
- Swelling to the face, lips, tongue, neck or eye
- An injury to the face or mouth that has caused heavy bleeding that won’t stop
- Increasing difficulty breathing or swallowing
Unless you have one of the above issues, you should contact an emergency dentist, not a hospital.
Should You See a Private or an NHS Dentist?
While the NHS is a fantastic and life-saving public institution, it’s not without its issues, particularly in the realm of dental care. With a shortage of NHS dentists, long wait times for appointments and dental practices turning away new patients, it can be near impossible to see an NHS dentist when you have a dental problem. Private dentists may be more expensive than the NHS, but they have many appointments available when needed, and can take the time to see and care for patients that come in.
Didsbury Dental Practice – 24 Hour Private Dental Care in Manchester
If you need emergency or routine dental care in the Manchester area, Didsbury Dental Practice is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year! Contact us today to book an appointment.