Do you need wisdom teeth stitches? If so, then you should definitely read this.
Getting your wisdom tooth removed may sound scary, but the truth is, it is not something to stress over. It may take a couple of weeks to fully recover from it, but dentists and oral surgeons today have all the skills and tools necessary to ensure faster and proper healing and mitigate the risks of oral infections. One of the techniques they use is wisdom teeth stitches. But are teeth stitches really necessary in every wisdom teeth extraction? Here is everything you need to know about dissolvable stitches for oral surgery.
Why you may need wisdom teeth extraction
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that grow on both sides of the mouth, top, and bottom. They are the last ones to erupt, which is usually between the ages of 17 to 21. Some people may not have these teeth at all.
For some people, however, there is not enough room in the mouth to accommodate the eruption and growth of the wisdom teeth. This causes the teeth to break through the gums at an awkward angle. This is called impacted wisdom teeth, and when this happens, it can cause pain and infection. To solve this problem, dentists will suggest wisdom tooth removal, a minor dental procedure that usually lasts about 45 minutes, and takes about two weeks to fully recover from.
The amount of time it takes to extract the wisdom tooth depends on the position of the tooth in the mouth and the difficulty of the wisdom tooth surgery.
Healing process timeline:
First 24 hours: Formation of blood clots
48 – 72 hours: Improvement in the swelling of the cheeks and the mouth
7 – 10 Days: Jaw stiffness and soreness should resolve
2 weeks: Wound healing complete, mild bruising should heal
Also, depending on the type of extraction and how it is completed, you may need wisdom teeth stitches.
Once the effects of the anesthetic wear off, you will be able to feel the stitches. As tempting as it might be, avoid touching the wisdom tooth socket and the stitching with your tongue.
Wisdom teeth stitches: What you need to know
Wisdom tooth extraction involves an incision to open the extraction site. To ensure the wound closes and heals properly, your dentist will have to stitch the extraction site and any related incisions. Wisdom teeth stitches, also known as sutures, are meant to attach the cut gum tissue layer back and assist the health healing process and keep the affected area from infections. Dental stitching is usually removed after seven days.
Most dentists today, however, use a dissolvable type of materials for wisdom teeth stitches, which means there will be no stitches to remove later on. This is because they disintegrate on their own and disappear completely after one week. This, however, is determined by several factors, such as:
- Extent of tooth extraction procedure
- Type of stitch material used
- Size and type of stitch
In some cases, dentists may opt to use non-dissolvable stitching material. In this case, they will let you know when you should return for the removal of the stitches, usually around 7 to 10 days.
For dissolvable stitches
Depending on the type of absorbable sutures, your wisdom teeth stitches will last around two weeks or up to a maximum of 30 days. In most cases, your dentist wants the sutures to last for at least 10 to 14 days to ensure the wound is healing properly.
Dissolvable stitches are essentially absorbed by the body. You may feel a few pieces coming loose here and there, this is completely normal as some fragments will fall off as the surgical area heals.
Your dentist will probably schedule a follow-up to check the progress of your wisdom teeth sockets and sutures after a few days. The big advantage of dissolvable stitches is that follow-up care is more efficient and comfortable as compared to conventional stitches.
For conventional/removable stitches
With conventional wisdom teeth stitches, you need to visit your dentist after a few days for a follow-up and have the stitches removed. Avoid touching the stitches with your fingers, even if you feel they are coming loose, as this could scar the tissue, cause infection and jeopardize the healing process. Instead, leave the suture removal to your dental professional.
The good thing about getting the stitches removed is they are neither painful nor uncomfortable. When the stitches are removed, a visible portion above the gums will be gently snipped using a pair of scissors. The side with the knot will be tugged to pull the other end of the stitching through the gums, and out of the mouth. All you will feel is a little pressure.
Also, if your dentist or dental surgeon is not available, you can have your sutures removed by their hygienist or licensed dental assistant.
Post extraction care: Taking care of wisdom teeth stitches
To mitigate the risk of infection in your stitches, your aftercare routine should be your priority.
First off, make sure you pay attention and follow the aftercare instructions of your dentist or oral surgeon. You can ask your dental professional will written instructions for your aftercare.
Swelling, pain and inflammation are the primary cause of discomfort. Thus, make sure you take your pain medicine as prescribed to minimize the discomfort. You can also use a cold compress to help reduce the swelling. Apply a cold compress on the affected side of your face for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. When at rest, keep your head elevated to lower the pressure inside your mouth.
Never brush the affected area anytime soon. The bristles of your toothbrush can easily irritate the sutures and the tooth socket, or remove the blood clot. Instead, keep your mouth clean by using warm saltwater; gently swish and rinse the affected area 2-3 times a day for 7 days. Saltwater is very effective in reducing swelling and removing any trapped food debris. However, do not rinse your mouth 24 hours after the surgery.
Your dentist may also prescribe you a topical medication to apply at the extraction site once or twice a day.
Typical aftercare instructions
Things to avoid
To ensure fast wound healing, make sure to stay away from anything hot. That includes smoking, vaping, or drinking hot coffee. Also, avoid drinking through a straw as this could dislodge the clot that is forming around the tooth sockets. You may develop a dry socket when the clot is dislodged. A dry socket can cause intense and persistent pain that can last anywhere from 3 to 5 days. If this happens, contact your dentist as soon as possible to clean the socket and remove any trapped debris that is causing pain.
Avoid doing rigorous activities and exercise for at least a few days as you recover from the surgery.
Physical activities can increase your blood pressure and dislodge the clot and increase bleeding. This could increase the risk of infection on the wisdom teeth stitches.
Foods to avoid
Avoid eating while your mouth is still numb from the anesthesia, as you could seriously bite and hurt your cheeks or lips, or even your tongue without feeling it.
Avoid eating crunchy, chewy, or hard foods that may irritate or put pressure on the surgical sites. This includes chips, nuts, popcorn, steak, or fruits with tiny seeds like raspberries, strawberries, etc. Stick to soft foods that don’t require a lot of chewing for the first few days, such as smoothies, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, yogurt, soups, etc.
Also, avoid hot or spicy foods, as these may irritate the affected area as well. Cold food and beverages can help soothe the pain and minimize discomfort.
Signs and symptoms of wisdom teeth stitch infection
As with any surgery, wisdom tooth extraction involves incisions and stitches. Thus, the affected site must be properly cared for to avoid infections. Signs and symptoms of infected wisdom teeth stitches include:
- Persistent pain
- Redness and swelling
- Facial inflammation
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Bad taste in your mouth
Infections are caused by bacteria, usually brought by trapped food debris. This could delay healing and cause persistent pain.
How to deal with wisdom teeth stitches infections?
If you are experiencing any symptoms above and believe you have developed an infection in your wisdom teeth socket, then you need to call your dental professional as soon as possible. More likely, you will need to come into their clinic as soon as possible.
Your dentist will clean the socket and apply a medicated dressing to the surgical site. You will be prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection.
You can also take anti-inflammatory over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen and/or apply a cold compress to help manage the inflammation and pain. You will also need to clean your mouth using warm saltwater. Again, make sure you rinse gently.
Most people will be able to resume their regular daily activities a couple of weeks after the procedure, and this includes eating, brushing, and flossing normally. However, depending on your body’s natural healing process, full recovery (closing of tooth socket left behind after the surgery) could take 3 to 4 months. During this time, it is imperative that you observe good oral hygiene and keep the affected area in your mouth clean and free of any food particles.