Tooth extraction is a very common procedure done in the dental clinic and this is the treatment of choice depending on the severity of the infection, the extent of damage and other reasons.
After the extraction, you realize that the healing process may be more frightening than the actual procedure itself.
There will be some pain and discomfort that will resolve after some days and also, you will feel some odd sensations as your mouth gets used to losing the tooth.
A tooth extraction site is supposed to look a certain way as the healing progresses, so anything different from this could be a sign that something is wrong. This article explains what a tooth extraction should look like when it is healing.
What Should A Tooth Extraction Look Like When Healing?
After tooth extraction, there are a lot of things to expect afterward as the healing process takes place. Also, the extraction site is supposed to look a certain way at each stage to ensure that the healing is smooth with no complications.
Here is what you should expect at each stage of the healing process.
First 24 Hours
• What you will see at this stage won’t seem like much but this is actually a very important part of the healing process. At this stage, you should notice that the tooth socket has been filled with a blood clot after the bleeding has stopped.
• This clot acts as a protective layer over the bone and nerve endings in the empty socket and also provides the foundation for the growth of new bone. If this clot falls off too early or does not form at all, it could lead to a condition called dry socket which requires your dentist’s attention. Avoid activities like forceful spitting out, sucking, poking the area with your hand and blowing to prevent this.
• You will also notice that the area around the empty socket is painful when touched and the gum tissue may have a white appearance. In cases of a difficult extraction, there may be a degree of swelling in the surrounding gum tissues and sometimes your face. This swelling will increase within the first 48 to 72hrs and then reduce.
Weeks 1 and 2
• The first two weeks following tooth extraction shows a significant amount of healing and repair around the gum tissue surrounding the extraction site. If stitches were used after the procedure, they can be removed by the seventh to tenth day as enough of the gum tissue would have healed by then.
• The extraction area at this stage looks better, improved and should not cause any significant discomfort. The amount of healing that has taken place will be mostly determined by the initial size of your wound. If it is a small tooth, a tooth with one root such as the lower incisors or a baby tooth, the wound will appear almost healed.
Wounds left by larger teeth, teeth with multiple roots, or a wisdom tooth extraction will take a longer time to heal. In these cases, the gum tissue may show an indentation. At this point, it is safe to meet your dentist to consider tooth replacement options.
Weeks 3 and 4
• By the end of this period, most of the gum tissue healing will have taken place. You will still notice a slight indentation in your jaw bone in the same spot where the extracted tooth was housed. If multiple or several teeth in a row have been removed, or a large amount of bone was removed as in the case of a wisdom tooth extraction, the indentation may still be significant and persist for some months before smoothening out.
• By this time you can start eating hard foods very well as the space left behind by the tooth is now smaller.
Apart from the healing taking place in the gum tissue, it is also important to know how the healing of the jaw bone is supposed to happen.
• The hole left after tooth extraction is very noticeable and can be felt during the initial phase. This hole may be deep enough to trap food particles and debris so constant rinsing with a warm salt-water solution is required to keep it clean.
• The new bone starts filling up from the bottom of the tooth socket and sides first. Over time, the width and depth of the wound reduce and becomes shallow, the indentation smoothens out eventually and blends in with the surrounding bone and gum tissue.
• The shape of your jawbone in that extraction area in terms of the height and width will undergo some changes too. Some of the original height of the bone will be lost in the healing process causing it to take a saddle-shaped appearance.
There is also a reduction in the width of the bone in that area and this loss is usually more on the side of the cheek and lip as compared to the tongue or palate side. All these changes give the healed socket a depressed appearance.
These changes take place within 6 to 8months but because it is a slow and gradual process, you may not even notice that anything is going on in your mouth.
During this healing process, you may discover a small piece of broken tooth or bone showing through the gum surface. This is your body trying to get rid of the object and they can be easily removed.
Complications Of Tooth Extraction That May Affect Healing
1) Dry Socket
Dry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis, is a severe condition that occurs about two or three days after a tooth extraction. This occurs when the blood clot is dislodged from the socket prematurely thereby exposing the bone and causing severe pain.
2) Numb Lip And Chin
Lower wisdom tooth extraction that was traumatic or close to the nerve in that area can cause you not to feel your chin and lips for some months due to the trauma to the nerve.
There is the possibility of an infection after tooth extraction but this is more common in patients with a suppressed immune system.
Tooth extraction is a relatively common procedure and the knowledge of how the area should look while healing is very important so as to know when something is going wrong. Don’t forget to adhere to your extraction aftercare instructions so as a have a swift and easy healing process and you are up and about in no time.