- Wisdom teeth stitches are often used to aid the healing process after a tooth extraction
- Not all wisdom teeth extractions require stitches
- The type of stitches and an individual’s healing process determine how long stitches take to dissolve or fall out
- Special care is needed to ensure that the extraction site heals properly
Does All Wisdom Teeth Extractions Have Stitches Placed?
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to emerge. Often, there isn’t enough space in the mouth for them to grow properly. This can cause impaction, misalignment, or partial eruption, which may lead to pain or infection. In such cases, extraction becomes necessary.
Stitches, also known as sutures, are used post-extraction to close the wound, which helps in clot formation and facilitates the healing process. However, not all wisdom teeth extractions require stitches. Simple extractions, where the tooth is fully erupted and easily accessible, may not need stitches. On the other hand, if the tooth is impacted or the extraction is complicated, stitches are more likely to be used to ensure proper healing of the surgical site.
How Long Do Wisdom Teeth Stitches Take to Dissolve or Fall Out?
The duration it takes for wisdom teeth stitches to dissolve or fall out varies based on the type of stitches used and the individual’s healing process.
Generally, there are two types of stitches:
- Absorbable Stitches: These stitches are made from materials that are absorbed by your body over time. They usually start to dissolve in about one to two weeks but can take longer to completely disappear.
- Non-absorbable Stitches: These are traditional stitches that do not dissolve. The dentist will need to remove them, usually around one week after the extraction.
Your dentist will choose the type of stitch based on various factors including the complexity of the extraction.
What Should I Do When One of the Stitches Comes Off After 3 Days of the Wisdom Teeth Extraction?
If a stitch comes off early, don’t panic. Sometimes this happens due to the natural healing process or due to agitation of the area by eating or brushing.
It’s important to keep the following in mind:
- Stay Calm: Losing a stitch is not always an emergency. The key is to remain calm.
- Keep the Area Clean: Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to keep the area clean. Avoid using mouthwash containing alcohol as it can irritate the area.
- Avoid Touching the Area: Don’t poke the area with your tongue or finger as it may cause further irritation or infection.
- Contact Your Dentist: It’s advisable to contact your dentist to inform them that a stitch has come loose. They will be able to advise whether you need to come in for a check-up or if it’s okay to wait for your scheduled follow-up.
Do Wisdom Teeth Stitches Hurt?
After the extraction of wisdom teeth, most patients experience some level of discomfort, but the stitches themselves do not typically cause pain. The surgical area is likely to be sore and possibly swollen, and this is generally what causes discomfort. Pain can vary depending on the complexity of the extraction. The dentist will usually prescribe pain medication to manage any discomfort, and the pain should gradually subside over a few days.
How to Take Care of Wisdom Teeth Stitches
Proper care of the stitches and surgical site is crucial for the healing process.
Here’s how to take care of wisdom teeth stitches:
- Avoid Disturbing the Area: Don’t poke the area with your tongue or finger, and avoid forcefully spitting, as this might dislodge the stitches or the blood clot that is aiding in healing.
- Cold Compresses: Apply a cold compress or ice pack to the outside of your cheek for 15-20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling.
- Eat Soft Foods: Stick to a diet of soft foods for the first few days. Avoid crunchy, spicy, or very hot foods as they may irritate the surgical site.
- Don’t Smoke or Use a Straw: The suction created from smoking or using a straw can dislodge the blood clot and delay healing.
- Gentle Cleaning: Don’t brush the teeth immediately next to the surgical site for the first 24 hours. After that, you can start gently brushing your teeth. Rinse with warm salt water several times a day to reduce pain and swelling.
- Take Prescribed Medications: Take any prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection, and use pain relievers as directed.
Typical Aftercare Instructions
- Bite on Gauze: Your dentist will ask you to bite down on gauze to control bleeding. Change gauze as necessary but try to leave them in place for at least 30 minutes.
- Take Medications as Prescribed: Take any prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection, and use pain relievers as directed.
- No Vigorous Rinsing or Spitting: Do not rinse or spit forcefully for 24 hours after the extraction to avoid dislodging the blood clot.
- Elevate Head: Sleep with your head elevated for the first couple of nights to reduce swelling.
- Limit Physical Activity: Reduce physical activity for the first 24 hours as this could lead to increased bleeding.
- Follow a Soft Diet: Consume soft foods and liquids, gradually introducing more solid foods as the healing progresses.
- Attend Follow-up Appointments: Attend all follow-up appointments and call your dentist if you experience severe pain, excessive bleeding, or other unusual symptoms.
Remember, following your dentist’s instructions is crucial for the successful healing of the extraction site and proper care of the stitches. Don’t hesitate to call your dentist if you have any concerns or questions regarding the aftercare of your wisdom teeth extraction and stitches.
Foods to Avoid After Wisdom Teeth Removal
After having your wisdom teeth removed, it’s important to eat foods that are soft and gentle on the extraction site.
Here are some foods you should avoid during the initial healing period:
- Crunchy Foods: Such as chips, popcorn, and nuts as they can become lodged in the extraction site.
- Sticky Foods: Such as caramel and chewing gum, which could stick to the stitches.
- Hard Foods: Such as raw vegetables and hard candies.
- Spicy Foods: They can cause irritation to the extraction sites.
- Hot Foods and Drinks: Very hot foods and drinks can cause discomfort or may dissolve blood clots that aid in healing.
- Alcoholic Beverages: Alcohol can interact with medications and slow down the healing process.
- Using a Straw: The suction could dislodge the blood clot and impede healing.
What Else to Avoid?
- Tobacco Products: Smoking or using other tobacco products can slow the healing process and increase the risk of complications.
- Touching the Area with Tongue or Fingers: This can introduce bacteria to the area or dislodge blood clots.
- Strenuous Activity: Engaging in heavy exercise or lifting heavy objects can increase blood pressure and may cause the extraction site to bleed.
- Alcohol-containing Mouthwashes: These can be irritating to the surgery site.
My Wisdom Teeth Stitches Came Out. What to Do?
If your stitches come out prematurely, don’t panic. It’s not uncommon for this to happen, especially if they are the dissolvable type.
However, it’s important to keep the following points in mind:
- Stay Calm: If the stitches came out, it might be because the wound is healing. However, monitor the area for any excessive bleeding or unusual pain.
- Keep the Area Clean: Continue to rinse with warm salt water but avoid direct rinsing of the extraction site.
- Avoid Directly Touching the Area: Do not try to touch or examine the area with your fingers or any instruments.
- Contact Your Dentist: It’s always a good idea to contact your dentist if you’re unsure. They will provide guidance on whether you need to come in for a check-up or if additional stitches are necessary.
Remember, healing from wisdom teeth extraction is a process and proper care is essential for a smooth recovery. Follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions and don’t hesitate to reach out to them if you have any concerns or uncertainties.
How Long Does It Take for Wisdom Teeth Holes to Heal Completely?
The healing process after wisdom teeth extraction varies among individuals and can be influenced by the complexity of the extraction, the individual’s general health, and adherence to post-operative care instructions.
In general, here is a rough timeline:
- First Few Days: The first few days after surgery are when any swelling, discomfort, and bleeding is at its peak. It’s important to rest and follow your dentist’s instructions carefully.
- One to Two Weeks: After the first week, you should be able to return to most normal activities, and any stitches may dissolve or be removed. The gums will start to close over the extraction sites.
- Six Weeks: By this point, most of the soft tissue healing will be completed.
- Several Months: It can take several months for the bone to fully heal and remodel. The depression or hole where the tooth was may gradually smooth out over this time.
How Can You Tell If Your Wisdom Teeth Stitches Have an Infection?
It is important to watch for signs of infection after wisdom teeth extraction.
Signs that may indicate an infection in the area of the stitches include:
- Prolonged or Severe Pain: Some discomfort is normal, but if pain increases a few days after surgery, it may be a sign of infection.
- Swelling that Doesn’t Go Down or Worsens: Some swelling is normal, but if it continues to worsen after the first few days, it could indicate infection.
- Foul Taste or Odor in the Mouth: This can be a sign of pus in the area.
- Fever: A fever can be a systemic sign of infection.
- Pus or Increased Redness Around the Wound: Visible pus or redness in the area of the stitches is a classic sign of infection.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible.
Is Early Stitches Loss a Complication?
Losing stitches early can be a complication if the wound has not had sufficient time to close enough to heal independently. If stitches are lost too early, there is a higher risk of infection, the wound opening, or dry socket. It’s important to be gentle around the area of the extraction and to follow post-operative instructions to minimize the risk of losing stitches prematurely. If you do lose stitches early, it is wise to contact your dental health provider to determine if you need to be seen.
Exception – When it May Not Be a Complication
In some cases, losing stitches early may not be a complication. Sometimes, the stitches might come out early because the wound is healing faster than expected, or the stitches were not tightly bound. In such cases, as long as there is no excessive bleeding, increased pain, or signs of infection, it might not be problematic. It is always best to check with your dentist or oral surgeon if you have any concerns or if you’re unsure.
Consequences of Healing Without Stitches
Healing without stitches might be uneventful, but it can sometimes lead to certain issues such as:
- Longer Healing Time: Without stitches, the wound might take a bit longer to close up.
- Increased Risk of Infection: The open wound might be more susceptible to bacteria.
- Dry Socket: This is when the blood clot that forms after an extraction is dislodged, exposing bone and nerves. It can be very painful and is more likely to occur if the extraction site is left open without stitches.
- Food Impaction: Food might get stuck in the socket where the tooth was removed, which can also lead to infection.
Wisdom teeth stitches are generally placed to help in the healing process and to prevent complications such as infection and dry socket. Losing stitches early could be a complication or might be benign depending on various factors including the healing process and how the stitches were placed. It’s important to follow all the post-operative care instructions given by your dentist or oral surgeon and to maintain good oral hygiene. If you lose stitches, it’s important not to panic but to contact your healthcare provider for advice. Keep an eye out for signs of infection or other complications and seek medical attention if necessary. Remember that proper aftercare is essential for a smooth and uncomplicated recovery after wisdom teeth extraction.
This article is complete and was published on August 4, 2023, and last updated on August 26, 2023.