Do you have a black hole after your wisdom tooth extraction? You’re probably trying to figure out what that means and if it is even normal.
As strange as it may be, that black hole is actually a part of the normal healing process after tooth removal. It simply looks that way due to the optical property of light.
Healing process of wisdom tooth hole
It is normal for your wisdom tooth hole to look black after a few days of having it extracted. In fact, it is actually a good sign because it is indicative that you’re at the later stages of the healing process.
After the wisdom tooth removal and until the socket completely closes, the wisdom tooth hole goes through multiple stages. Each stage will look different and come with an associated color.
Stages of a healing extraction socket:
- Blood clot
- Granulation tissue
- Black hole
Immediately after the wisdom tooth gets taken out, your body tries to form a blood clot in the empty socket. The purpose of the clot is to prevent you from bleeding to death.
Consequently, that makes the blood clot the first stage or change that happens to your wisdom tooth hole. This step typically occurs over the first two days or so.
Since the blood clot is full of fresh and dried blood, it tends to make the hole look red. You may even describe it as a dark burgundy or red wine color. For your information, once the blood dries it could look like black stuff sometimes.
After the blood clot stabilizes, your body moves onto the second stage of healing which is the formation of granulation tissue. The purpose of this tissue is to help fill in the empty socket and help the hole close.
What granulation tissue is composed of:
- Fibroblasts – cells that form collagen.
- Keratinocytes – cells that re-epithelialization of the epidermis.
- Endothelial cells – revascularization/angiogenesis (form new blood vessels).
- Myofibroblasts – wound contraction and closure (tooth hole getting smaller).
- Immune cells – neutrophils and macrophages, which protect against infections.
The granulation tissue is often white in color but most people simply call it white stuff in the wisdom tooth hole. You can expect to see this from the third to sixth day after the extraction procedure.
Towards the end of the week around the 7th day after your wisdom tooth removal, you’ll be entering the last stage of the healing process. This stage is when the gums have start to close and shrink. You’ll notice that the wisdom tooth hole has significantly decreased in sized and what it looks like is a black hole.
Basically if your tooth extraction site looks black, it means that you’re entering the very last stage of socket healing. The only thing left is for the hole to get smaller and smaller, all the way until it completely vanishes. It means that you’re almost there and you have a healthy wisdom tooth hole.
Note: The timeline that we’ve given is just a rough estimate. Depending on your healing speed, it may be faster or slower for some of you.
Why does the hole look black?
The wisdom tooth hole looks black when it is healing because light can’t reach into it. That is simply how the optical properties of light works.
Imagine if you pulled the blinds down in your room and blocked out all of the light. The room would look pitch black wouldn’t it? However once you pull the blinds up, you can see the colors of your wall and the colors of the floor. The same thing happens with the tooth socket.
There is technically color inside of the socket but you can’t see it because light can’t reach into it and this is exacerbated by two factors:
- Location. The wisdom teeth are located at the farthest depth in your mouth. It is easy to see the front teeth because light readily reaches it. The third molars are difficult to visualize since they’re the last teeth in the mouth. What makes it worse is that hole is below the height of the molar in front of it. That makes it extremely difficult for light to even shine into it. Only your dentist can see into it when they use their tiny mirror.
- Socket closure. As your wisdom tooth hole heals, it will get smaller and smaller. The smaller it gets the less light it’ll allow into it. That just makes the black hole look even darker!
In case you needed any further convincing, the color black is the absence of light. When there is no light inside of the hole, it will look black.
What color should the wisdom tooth socket be?
Depending on which stage of the healing process that you’re in after the wisdom tooth removal, the socket color will differ.
- Early stage is red. The beginning stage is when the blood clot is stabilizing so it will look red. That is simply what the color of blood looks like.
- Mid-stage is white. After the clot has stabilized, white stuff starts to take over when the granulation tissue forms. This makes the hole look white in color.
- Late stage is black. Towards the end of the healing process, as the hole gets smaller and smaller, it will start to look black. The reason is because its small size prevents a lot of light from entering it and that makes it look like a black hole.
Therefore the color of the wisdom tooth socket changes from red to white and then finally to black. If you see black it means that you’re on the right path towards healing.
Is the black hole a dry socket?
Fortunately for you, there is no such thing as a black dry socket because a black hole after wisdom tooth extraction is NOT an indication of a dry socket. They are completely unrelated conditions.
The two tell-tale signs of a dry socket are unbearable pain and exposed jaw bone.
- Excruciating toothache. Oh, you will now if you’ve a dry socket because the pain from it is worse than before you had the tooth taken out. That should give you an idea of how painful the condition can be.
- Exposed bone. The definition of a dry socket is a lack of a blood clot. If you have it, your wisdom tooth hole will essentially have “nothing” in it and that is why it is called “dry” socket. Essentially if the clot is missing in the socket, the only thing that would be left would be the alveolar bone (jaw bone) and the color of that is white/yellow.
Therefore, seeing black in the wisdom tooth hole is a good sign while seeing white and yellow would be a bad sign. The color of a dry socket is white or yellowish which is the color of exposed bone. Exposed bone is a tell-tale sign.
Do I need to do anything about it?
Fortunately for you, there is no action required from you and you don’t need to do anything about the black hole. Since it is a normal part of the healing process for socket closure, you can simply leave it be.
With each successive day that goes by you’ll notice it getting smaller and smaller. It will eventually completely disappear once the gums close over it.
Nevertheless it would still be prudent to practice good wisdom teeth aftercare by keeping the area as clean as possible. That means you should brush and floss your teeth as you normally do! Also while the hole is still there you should try to rinse vigorously with salt water after each meal so that food doesn’t get stuck in the hole.