While most stitches last up to 7 days, the specific duration might depend on factors like the type and the number of stitches you’ve got. It would be best if you took extra precautions post-surgery, as even the most insignificant things could trigger complications. Be mindful about resting and eating soft foods while strictly avoiding strenuous exercise and crunchy foods. If you risk infection, you might experience symptoms of fever, pain, and discharge of pus. Infections would need immediate administering of antibiotics, or you can resort to home remedies like flushing out your teeth for dry socket complications.
Stitches are often administered after oral procedures, such as wisdom tooth removal and extractions.
The mere positioning of your stitches bothering you is now less likely, thanks to technological advances and the use of self-dissolving sutures.
This doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a smooth recovery all the way.
The discomfort you’re feeling could be associated with various reasons, such as not maintaining oral hygiene, oral infections, and what’s known as dry socket complications.
How long do stitches last after oral surgery? What are the dos and don’ts of recovering from oral surgery? How can you know if your stitches are infected?
What are the signs that your mouth is healing after tooth extraction stitches? How can you treat dry socket complications?
Let’s find answers to all these questions!
How long do stitches last after oral surgery?
Stitches can be a massive concern for us, especially when they’re in a place of inconvenience like our mouth.
We might find the stitches annoying because they irritate our gums and other areas of our mouth, and we might try to cut or remove them on our own.
However, doing so could lead to complexities in the future.
In today’s world, most stitches are usually dissolvable and often disappear or fall out by themselves within 2 to 7 days.
The exact period it takes might depend on your specific procedure and the number of stitches in your mouth.
Different types of sutures might also have different lifespans, and this is an aspect that you can clarify by asking your doctor.
If you feel like your dissolving stitches don’t seem to be dissolving on their own, you can rinse your mouth in warm salt water to help speed up the process.
Sometimes, your surgeon might not use dissolving stitches, and in that case, he’d let you know of a return date to come and get them removed.
What are the dos and don’ts of recovering from oral surgery?
Stitches in your mouth may bother you if you’re not abiding by the basic rules of recovering from oral surgery.
The things you need to watch out for are listed in the table below:
Five dos of recovering from oral surgery
1. Rest up
Like any other surgery done on your body, you will need a recovery period to rest and take it easy.
It’s best to keep your head at a higher level on a stack of pillows to ease the blood flow to your head. This will minimize swelling in your mouth and face.
2. Eat soft foods
Once your mouth stops bleeding after your surgery, it’s safe and easier to eat soft foods, mostly in liquid form.
You’ll find it comforting to eat foods like yogurts, mashed potatoes, and soups during this time.
3. Cold compress
You can reduce your swelling by icing your face for about 15 minutes at a time.
4. Get your vitamin intake
Since you must resort to soft food, you must ensure you don’t cheat on your vitamin intake. You can eat healthy foods like steamed and soft-cooked vegetables or take vitamin supplements.
5. Oral hygiene
Oral hygiene is a must, especially since your mouth is vulnerable post-surgery. Your surgeon will likely ask you not to rinse your mouth for one day after surgery.
So, from day two onwards, you can rinse your mouth a few times a day with warm salt water to clean out any food debris trapped in your mouth.
Five don’ts of recovering from oral surgery
1. Don’t push yourself
Rest is a crucial step to recovery. So, now’s not the right time to use up all your energy.
Don’t engage in strenuous activities, especially until a few days pass after your surgery.
2. Dietary restrictions
There’s a big chance that your mouth might still be numb from the surgery. Make sure you don’t eat and drink hot foods.
You’ll also need to avoid crunchy, hard food that requires much chewing for a few weeks.
3. Don’t brush
It would be best if you didn’t brush or floss around your surgical area without the advice of your dentist.
Even when you do, make sure you’re gentle.
4. Don’t smoke
It’s crucial that you avoid smoking, especially within 24 hours of doing oral surgery.
A 2020 study revealed that smoking post-oral surgery could lead to a painful condition known as a dry socket.
5. Don’t drink alcohol
Staying away from alcohol for 24 hours post-surgery is essential for two reasons.
Firstly, it can interfere with your healing process; secondly, if you’re on any pain medication after surgery, alcohol may react with it and cause disastrous results.
How can you know if your stitches are infected?
Your stitches, while most of the time harmless, can still pose a risk of infection.
Infections can occur after tooth extraction surgery, and the only way to stay safe from them is by ensuring your stitches are clean and free from food particles.
If you feel like your stitches might be infected, the following are the warning signs:
- Pain – A throbbing pain that doesn’t go away after painkillers.
- Swelling – While slight swelling is normal after oral surgery, increased swelling can occur in different areas of your mouth, like your gums, jaw, or even the sides of your face.
- Discharge – The oozing of pus, nasal discharge, or blood can be a warning sign of infection.
- Itchy feeling – An uncomfortable constant itchy sensation in the extraction hole where your tooth used to be might also indicate an infection.
- Redness – Redness in your face that gradually increases along with swelling is also a warning sign.
- Fever – Usually, developing a fever soon after surgery is quite normal. But if the fever doesn’t go down the next day, you might need to consult your dentist.
- Odd taste – A bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away after rinsing or brushing might also be a sign of infection, as per a 2017 study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine.
Signs that your mouth is healing after tooth extraction stitches
There are several stages to the healing process of the stitches in your mouth.
If the stitches seem to be bothering you within the first 24 hours, this is nothing to be worried about.
Discomfort is expected as the natural blood clotting would happen where your tooth was extracted. Minor bleeding and slight swelling can also be natural at this stage.
After this blood clot forms, it’s essential to ensure it remains attached to the extraction hole. If it dislodges, you might face a painful condition known as a dry socket.
If you’re feeling serious discomfort at this point, you face this complication. While dry socket does heal on their own gradually, if the discomfort is unbearable, you can get a prescription from your dentist to ease the pain.
Usually, after around three days post-surgery, your gums would start healing.
After roughly a week, the opening of your extracted tooth hole would also close up, and any swelling that occurred during the process would go down too.
How to treat dry socket complications?
In case your discomfort arises from a dry socket complication, it’s always safer to know your options, ranging from medical treatment to home remedies.
By flushing out the socket with warm water, you can easily flush out any debris and food particles contributing to the pain.
A 2017 study by the US National Library of Medicine also revealed that drinking and flushing out your mouth with tap water reduces the risk of an inflammatory complication.
Your dentist might prescribe pain medication if you’re experiencing severe pain because of your dry socket.
When you need quick pain relief, your dentist might pack your empty socket with some medicated gel and dressing to minimize your pain.
Once the medicated dressing that your dentist set is removed, they might provide you with a plastic syringe with a curved tip to help you rinse the socket at home. You can rinse your mouth with salt water by using this syringe.
To avoid all possible discomfort, this step is essential as some pain medications often come with the side effect of triggering nausea.
By drinking a lot of clear liquids, you can avoid this situation.
The best thing to do if you feel like your stitches are bothering you is to consult your dentist so that he can confirm whether it’s your stitches or other complications that are causing the discomfort.
You needn’t worry too much about infection, as post-oral surgery infection is rare.
However, when your body’s immune system is generally compromised due to a chronic illness like diabetes, the potential for infection might increase.
As the risk factors may vary from person to person, the most accurate way to figure out what exactly is bothering you is by consulting your dentist or surgeon.
It’s always best to leave it to the professionals.