Tooth Extraction Healing

During the first 24 hours after the extraction, patients can expect a little bleeding to continue, at least for a few hours after the surgery. There will likely be swelling and mild to moderate pain as well. The level of pain is determined by the number of teeth extracted, the type(s) of extraction and location(s), if there is any co-existing infection and by the patient's personal pain tolerance.

If the pain begins to worsen rather than improve after the first two to three days, it may be due to a complication known as dry socket.

After a tooth is extracted, a blood clot begins to form in the now-empty socket. It's important to avoid rinsing, spitting and sucking -- and that includes smoking -- after a tooth extraction, because those activities can disrupt the formation of that blood clot or dislodge it from the socket. If the clot becomes damaged or dislodged, it exposes the nerves and bone underneath to everything in the mouth, from the air we breathe and our saliva to debris from the foods we eat. Dry socket is a severely painful condition, and is commonly treated with antibiotics and wound cleaning. Take a sigh of relief: The condition affects a small number of tooth extraction patients -- only an estimated 2 to 5 percent of patients who have a tooth extracted develop dry socket [source: Mayo Clinic].

Wondering when the hole in your mouth will close? If there are no complications, new gum tissue will close the hole in about one to two weeks, and both soft tissues and bone will continue to heal during the following month.

Most patients will find that the recovery period for an uncomplicated tooth extraction is only a few days, but it's important to remember that although the bleeding and swelling have ended, the wound needs several weeks to completely heal. Good tooth extraction aftercare can help make the healing process smooth and uncomplicated. Let's look at what type of care is needed in the first 24 hours after surgery through until the stitches come out.