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Wisdom Tooth Removal: What Happens to Your Gums?

The wisdom tooth removal process itself makes many patients squeamish. In fact, you may not want to know details about the procedure. But if you’re like most of our patients, you have questions about what to expect afterward.

What Happens to Your Gums After Wisdom Tooth Removal

One of the most common questions we’re asked involves the extraction site and what to expect from the healing process. Will the sockets where your teeth used to be fill as you heal from your wisdom tooth extraction? Or will you have permanent holes in your gums after having your teeth removed?

How Gums Heal After Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Immediately following your wisdom tooth removal procedure, we will treat the extraction site to promote proper gum healing. Some patients require dissolvable stitches, but in many cases, a section of gauze placed over the gum area is sufficient to control bleeding.

A bit of bleeding is normal, but soon after the tooth extraction, a blood clot will begin to form inside the now-empty socket. This sets the foundation for proper healing and begins the process of soft tissue growth within the gums. After a day or two, this tissue will fill the empty tooth socket(s).

Caring for Your Gums Following Wisdom Tooth Removal

The first few days after you have your wisdom teeth removed are critical for proper gum healing. If the blood clots are dislodged (or dissolve) before the extraction sites have healed, your recovery period will be extended and potentially complicated.

This condition can also be painful. When the blood clot is displaced, the underlying nerves and bone are left exposed — a condition known as dry socket. If this occurs, you’ll have to return to our office for further treatment.

To prevent dry socket, avoid strenuous activities and exercise for at least 48 hours. Physical exertion can interfere with how your gums heal after tooth extraction. You also must be careful about what you eat. For the first few days, sticking to a soft food diet will be necessary.

Finally, avoid smoking and drinking through straws after your extraction procedure. Suction from these activities can dislodge your blood clots.

The Gums May Take Time to Close After Wisdom Tooth Removal

Over time, the soft tissue that has filled your gum sockets will be replaced by bone, leaving the holes completely and permanently closed. But this may take a while.

Although you should be pain-free within a week or so, your gums will require three or four weeks to heal completely. For some patients, however, bone growth in the gum sockets takes several months.

In the meantime, be diligent about your oral hygiene, and keep your gums and teeth clean to prevent infection and other complications.

The experienced oral surgeons at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah specialize in oral surgery and tooth extraction. Call our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Toole office today to learn more or to schedule a consultation to discuss your wisdom tooth removal.

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