A large percentage of American adults have had their wisdom teeth removed. It is almost a rite of passage. The surgical procedure ends with the affected areas stitched to protect the wounds and promote healing. These wisdom teeth stitches may be in your mouth for up to a few weeks, and they require meticulous care.
If you’re careful and follow your doctor’s instructions, removal of wisdom teeth stitches will be almost a non-issue, as most stitches are made to dissolve on their own.
Today let’s look at the role of wisdom teeth stitches, how to care for them, and how to avoid problems.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
For most people, wisdom teeth extraction is necessary. Often, there is not enough room for the third molars—wisdom teeth—to erupt naturally. What you often end up with are partially erupted or impacted wisdom teeth. This can cause severe problems for your otherwise healthy adjacent teeth.
Wisdom teeth can grow at an odd angle that creates hard-to-clean spaces, risking infections. They can damage other teeth by pushing against them or interfere with needed orthodontic treatments. For such reasons, wisdom teeth are usually removed to give you a healthier mouth.
Wisdom Teeth Stitches
Once wisdom teeth are removed, the hole (socket) left behind is covered with the remaining flap of gum tissue and stitched closed. Stitches help control bleeding and promote clot formation. They also help prevent infection.
Part of the healing process is blood clotting in empty sockets. This clotting provides a healing seal inside the socket. Stitches help protect this process by closing the area and keeping it undisturbed. It is imperative that you do not agitate this area.
Wound Care After Surgery
Taking care of your mouth after surgery is aimed at protecting the blood clots that should be forming in the sockets. At first, you will probably be given gauze to be placed over the wounds. Then, you can gently bite down on them to help stop bleeding and seal the sockets.
After 24 hours, you can rinse your mouth using warm salt water (one teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water). However, refrain from swishing or forcefully spitting it out since it will put pressure on the wounds. Instead, open your mouth and let it fall out. You also will not be able to brush or floss around the wound areas for a few days.
Food You Should Eat or Avoid
Be careful about what you eat and drink while your mouth is healing. Again, the goal is to make sure the clots in the sockets are not disturbed. Therefore, choose soft foods that require little or no chewing, such as applesauce or yogurt. Cold foods will help promote the development of blood clots. Eat high-calorie, high-protein foods, and drink a lot of fluids.
Stay away from chewy or sticky foods and liquids such as alcohol, caffeinated drinks, or anything hot.
What Else to Avoid
You don’t want to do anything that disturbs the healing areas. So first, don’t touch them! Second, don’t do anything that creates pressure in your mouth, like suction, so no straws, smoking, or spitting. Hot foods or liquids can cause problems, too. Also, take time to rest. Vigorous activity can raise your blood pressure and disturb the wounds.
Problems with Stitches
For the first few days after surgery, the stitched areas can be a bit painful. An ice pack will help with the swelling. Alternate holding it on and off the wound for 20 minutes. Elevating your head when you lie down can also keep swelling in check.
When you need medication, a combination of over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen is often recommended. For example, your doctor may recommend 600mg of ibuprofen and 1000mg of acetaminophen doses at regular intervals. Your doctor will make recommendations specifically for you.
Are Your Wisdom Teeth Stitches Infected?
If you carefully follow your doctor’s instructions for after-surgery care, you should recover without any incidents. However, infection at the stitched sites is always a risk. Contact your doctor immediately if you believe the infection is setting in, as infections in your mouth can escalate quickly. They will likely prescribe antibiotics.
- Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
- Excessive bleeding in the stitched area
- Swollen gums in the stitched area
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Numbness beyond the first day after surgery
- Pus in the socket
- Pain upon opening and closing your mouth
- Pain despite taking medications
- Blood or pus leaking from your nose
Wisdom Teeth Stitches: Removal and Healing Time
What if your wisdom teeth stitches come out? At some point, you may find that some of your stitches are loosening, sticking out, or even falling out. It may be a little disconcerting to have wisdom teeth stitches hanging out of place. However, this becomes a problem only in case of infection or bleeding. Otherwise, it just means the stitches have served their purpose.
When do wisdom teeth stitches dissolve? Stitches for wisdom teeth removal are made from either natural or synthetic materials and will either break down, dissolve, or pass safely through your body as waste. Depending on the materials, they will last from eight to 30 days before they dissolve. If you have stitches that don’t dissolve on their own, you will need to see your doctor to have them removed.
Once your stitches have dissolved or been removed, you can resume your everyday eating habits and regular oral care regimen. However, this doesn’t mean that your mouth is completely healed yet. Complete healing time for the tooth sockets can be three to four months long.
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Wisdom teeth stitches play an essential role in your successful recovery from the extractions. They protect and promote the formation of necessary blood clots in the empty tooth sockets and help prevent infection. Most eventually dissolve on their own. Once it’s all healed, your mouth will feel better and be much healthier for the rest of your life.
Do you have questions about wisdom teeth stitches? Don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule a complimentary consultation! Loudoun Orthodontics is here to provide answers and help you through the process. We will be delighted to help you. In the meantime, make sure to check out our blog for more information on orthodontic treatments!