The recovery timeline after a tooth extraction, such as getting your wisdom teeth removed, can depend on the severity of the extraction. Full recovery may take up to a few months.
It may not be your favorite way to spend a weekend, but having a tooth pulled is sometimes necessary. When a tooth is extracted, it leaves a temporary hole in its place.
Several factors determine the length of time needed for this hole to close, including your tooth’s size and the type of extraction. It may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
Read on to learn more about how long it takes for a hole to close after a tooth extraction and some tips for a manageable recovery.
There are two types of tooth extraction processes. Your recovery time will largely be determined by which one you’ve had.
Simple tooth extractions are done on visible teeth — the ones that have already erupted through your gums. These teeth sometimes require extraction due to:
- severe tooth decay
If your tooth being extracted is large or has several roots, it will take longer to heal. You should see the hole close by the end of the third week, but complete healing and elimination of the hole may take several months.
During this time, the hole will be closed, but may have an indentation you can feel with your finger or tongue.
Simple extraction healing time
A hole from a simple extraction of a small tooth with a single root usually takes about 7 days to close and heal.
A hole from a simple extraction of a large tooth with several roots closes after 3 weeks, but complete healing and elimination of the hole may take several months.
Visible teeth may also require extraction before orthodontic work to help make room for your remaining teeth to align properly in your mouth.
A simple extraction is done with a local anesthetic to numb the area. You’ll usually remain awake and alert during this procedure.
If your tooth being extracted is small, or only has a single root, the hole it leaves behind will close relatively quickly, in around 7 days. Complete healing will take approximately 1 additional week.
This procedure is more extensive, so it takes longer for your tooth hole to close than after a simple extraction. Tissues and bone are cut underneath the gum line during surgical extractions.
In the case of surgical extraction, your tooth hole will be fully or almost fully closed by 6 weeks after surgery. It may take several more months before the indentation fills in and the healing is complete.
Surgical extraction healing time
Your tooth hole will be fully or almost fully closed about 6 weeks after surgery. The indentation will usually fill in and heal completely after several more months.
Surgical extraction is often required to remove:
- an impacted tooth, such as wisdom teeth that don’t erupt into your gums
- impacted canine teeth (your sharper teeth near the front of your mouth) above your gum line, especially if you need braces or your child does
- remnants of a visible tooth that has cracked or broken off
- fragments of a tooth that breaks while being removed during a simple extraction
Surgical extraction typically requires the use of a local anesthetic plus general anesthesia.
Healing takes time, but begins as soon as your procedure is complete.
24 to 48 hours after surgery
During the first 24 to 48 hours after extraction, a blood clot will start to form over the hole.
This blood clot helps keep the hole free of food particles and bacteria. It is a necessary first step towards healing and allows gum tissue and bone to start forming.
It won’t be visible to your eye, but new gum tissue has already started to form in the hole.
Bleeding from the hole will slow down and eventually stop during this period. You will continue to have swelling and tenderness on the side of your mouth where your tooth was pulled.
7 to 21 days after surgery
Your tooth hole will start to visibly close as gum tissues repair and regenerate. If you had stitches, they will be removed or start to dissolve.
Large tooth extractions, molars, and any impacted teeth will take the longest amount of time to heal.
1 to 4 months after surgery
Based on how extensive the extraction is, your tooth hole should be completely healed with no indentation.
The hole in your jawbone (your tooth’s socket) should also be completely filled in with new bone.
Here are the dos and don’ts to help manage your recovery after tooth extraction.
- Keep a gauze pad over the area for at least 30 minutes after surgery. This will help the blood clot start to form in your tooth hole.
- Rest and give your body time to recuperate.
- Talk with your dentist or surgeon about the medications you take. Certain types, such as blood thinners, may delay healing of your tooth hole.
- Drink lots of room temperature water.
- Keep the area clean by rinsing with salt water.
- Only eat soft foods for the first few days.
- Use an ice pack on the outside of your face to reduce swelling.
- Don’t rinse the area for the first 24 hours.
- Don’t drink anything hot or extremely cold for the first few days.
- Don’t do any strenuous activities that might accelerate blood flow during the first few days.
- Avoid any activity that causes suction in your mouth during the first few days so that you don’t dislodge the blood clot that starts to form. This includes smoking cigarettes, drinking through a straw, and spitting.
- Don’t drink alcohol or use alcohol-based mouthwash for 24 hours after surgery.
- Avoid eating anything that might become lodged in the hole, such as strawberry seeds or nut particles.
If no blood clot forms over your tooth hole, or it is dislodged, dry socket may occur.
Dry socket is a potential complication of tooth extraction surgery that interferes with the growth of new bone and development of your soft tissue meant to form over the clot.
You have a greater risk of dry socket if you:
- have an infection in your tooth hole
- have an injury at the extraction site from the procedure
- have had dry socket before
- smoke, chew, or vape nicotine products
- take oral contraceptives
- don’t keep the area clean of bacteria and food debris
Call your doctor if you experience any signs of infection or dry socket, including:
- severe swelling or swelling that starts 3 or more days after surgery
- intense pain or new pain
- throbbing, tingling, or scratching in your tooth hole or surrounding area
- heavy bleeding
- pus or blood in nasal discharge
- bad taste that remains, even after rinsing
- seeing bone in the hole
- your tooth hole doesn’t have a visible clot or does not appear to be getting smaller after 2 to 4 days
If you have an infection, your doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics or an antimicrobial or antiseptic mouthwash for you to use.
If you have dry socket, your dentist will flush out the area to rid it of food particles, bacteria, and debris. Your dentist may also pack the socket with medication and gauze.
Dry socket can be painful. Over-the-counter medications are usually enough to reduce or eliminate discomfort.
When a tooth is extracted, it leaves a temporary hole in its place that can take anywhere from several weeks to several months to fill in and heal.
The first all-important step to healing your tooth hole is the formation of a blood clot. If a blood clot does not form or is dislodged, dry socket may occur.
Habits such as drinking through a straw or smoking cigarettes can interfere with healing. Proper aftercare, such as keeping the area clean and getting enough rest, can help accelerate healing.