Tooth extraction healing times can vary, but most people feel back to normal in a matter of days. In fact, you can typically return to work or school within one or two days but talk to your dentist to be sure.
Tooth extraction recovery will be different from person to person and will depend on many factors, such as the type of extraction you have, the reason for your extraction, how many teeth are removed, which teeth are extracted, and post-procedure care. Following your dentist’s instructions and reaching out with any questions can help you be sure to recover quickly from your tooth extraction.
Although there are many levels of complexity when it comes to tooth extractions, there are two main types: simple and surgical extraction. Knowing the difference can help you understand why the recovery times can be different for each procedure.
A simple extraction is performed when the tooth is visible and easy to access, intact, and free from other complications. Simple extraction is a common procedure done in your dentist’s office. Your dentist will discuss anesthesia options with you, and often local anesthetic, such as numbing the area, is sufficient (remember-other options are available, and you should discuss them with your dentist). Your dentist will use a device known as an “elevator” to loosen the tooth and then use forceps to remove it.
A surgical extraction might be necessary in a more complicated case, such as when the tooth is impacted (below the gums), heavily decayed, or broken. Surgical extraction will usually be performed with additional anesthesia, such as conscious sedation. A small incision is made into the gum in order to gain better access to the tooth. Your dentist or oral surgeon will use forceps to remove the tooth. The incision may require closure, such as stitches.
In either case, the dentist will use gauze to put pressure on the site. A blood clot will form in the place where the tooth used to be (socket). This may sound scary, but it is a normal part of the healing process. It is important to follow aftercare instructions to prevent a “dry socket,” which may require additional healing time and cause discomfort.
You will likely be back to yourself after a simple extraction within a day or two. For a surgical extraction, it may take 48-72 hours to feel better. Your dentist may give you a prescription pain killer or recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever for this time period. It may take 1-2 weeks for the socket to heal, and you may have mild discomfort and need to stick to softer foods for that time, especially in the case of a surgical extraction. It is a good idea to limit strenuous physical activity for this time as well, as it can cause additional bleeding.
Following your dentist’s instructions is essential to recovering quickly from your tooth extraction, regardless of whether you had a simple or surgical extraction.
Your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infections. Always take antibiotics exactly as described, including finishing the prescribed doses as directed. Pain medication may also be prescribed or recommended by your dentist.
Your dentist should give you thorough instructions on how to keep the extraction site clean, which can help prevent infection and promote healing.
You should stick to soft foods following your tooth extraction. Ask your dentist how long you should wait until resuming your normal diet.
The suction created by smoking or drinking with a straw may compromise the blood clot that forms at the extraction site. Therefore, do not drink from a straw or smoke/vape for a few days following your extraction.
Exercise or other strenuous activities should be avoided for the days immediately following your extraction. The exertion could increase the risk of bleeding.