When you’re recovering from tooth extraction healing stages, you may notice white stuff in your extraction site. Is it normal? What does it mean? What’s going on inside your body during the healing process? Keep reading to learn more about the stages of tooth extraction healing, why the white stuff happens, and what you can do to promote faster recovery.
Stage 1: Bleeding
After a tooth extraction, you might see some bright red blood. Don’t panic—this is normal. It’s important to note that there are two kinds of bleeding: primary bleeding and secondary bleeding. Primary (immediate) bleeding occurs at the time of extraction and typically lasts for about five minutes, though it can last longer with larger extractions or those that involve teeth further back in your mouth. Secondary (delayed) bleeding can happen days later as a result of pressure on a blood vessel as you eat or brush your teeth. To help prevent it, try gently pressing down over your extraction site with gauze after you floss; doing so could stop pressure from damaging a blood vessel in your gum tissue.
Stage 2: The White Stuff Appears
One of tooth extraction’s healing stages is that your body will now close up any opening left behind in your gum and form a hard scab. This can take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. During stage 3, you should avoid putting pressure on or picking at your wound as it heals because doing so could potentially cause additional damage and slow down healing time. In addition, stage 3 is when you may experience some pain, swelling and tenderness; we recommend taking over-the-counter medication for mild pain (like Tylenol). But if you start to feel more discomfort than usual or notice that bleeding is increasing from your extraction site, be sure to contact our dentist office right away.
Stage 3: The Wound Closes and Begins to Heal
When a tooth is pulled, there’s a hole in your gum that needs to heal. The body starts by forming a scab (or crust) over the wound. Over time, blood vessels grow into and around that tissue, followed by formation of new bone. This process can take from several weeks to several months, depending on how far along it was before you had your tooth pulled; if you had tooth decay or gum disease, it may take longer than if you have healthy teeth and gums.
Stage 4: Scabbing Over
After a few days, a scab will form over your extraction site. A week after your procedure, you’ll want to remove that scab and clean out any residual blood or crust. If there’s still scabbing on your tooth—or if it doesn’t seem ready to come off—you can try soaking it with warm salt water (one teaspoon per 8oz water). Note: You don’t have to do anything with your extraction site; let nature take its course as long as you feel no pain or tenderness in the area. The healing process will vary for everyone, but should last about six weeks before all signs of your surgical procedure are gone.
Stage 5: Removing the Scab
Once a scab has formed, you can remove it by gently peeling it off with your fingernail. For some people, it comes off easily; for others, you might need to give it a little help. If you pull on a scab too hard or too soon, however, you could end up causing your tooth’s root to become exposed and inflamed—not what you want! The best thing to do is just wait until it falls off naturally. Keep in mind that even if a scab never forms over your extraction site (and many do not), there’s still a chance that an infection could develop due to trapped food particles or saliva under your tongue where no one will see.
Stage 6: Bonding Time
For at least a week, keep any hard food out of your mouth. Foods like chips, nuts and popcorn can crack or chip teeth that have been weakened by an extraction. To speed up tooth healing, brush your gums gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Be sure to rinse with warm salt water several times a day to prevent infection. After 24 hours, begin rinsing with salt water after meals for about one month to help strengthen the area around your tooth socket. For at least two weeks after you get home from your extraction, carry an extra toothbrush and travel toothpaste in case you experience gum irritation or swelling after eating.
Tooth Extraction Scar Treatment
As with any type of wound, there are three stages of healing after a tooth extraction. The first stage is known as healing by primary intention. This means that you need to keep your mouth clean and follow any specific aftercare instructions given to you by your dentist or oral surgeon. In these cases, it is important not to disturb or pull at your gums, but instead focus on eating healthy and getting plenty of rest. Most people heal in 2-3 weeks, but your doctor will tell you how long they expect it will take before they close up.