If you’ve dissolvable stitches hanging in your mouth, there are four possible courses of action that you can take to address it.
- See your dentist.
- Cut it shorter.
- Pull them out.
- Leave them alone.
We will review each one of them and determine whether you should do it or you shouldn’t do it. There are consequences to each those actions and we’re here to guide you to making the best decision for your hanging sutures in the mouth.
However, before we begin we should go over what this condition looks like and its potential causes.
Signs and Causes
Dissolvable stitches are commonly placed after extractions or wisdom teeth removals. Although they can also be for other surgical and periodontal procedures as well. Although their appearance and why they start hanging remains all the same.
What it looks like
When absorbable stitches are hanging, they look anything but taut or tight. Below are demonstrative examples on a model to give you an idea of its potential appearance. It will vary from individual to individual though.
You can compare those hanging sutures from above to a tightly secure knot shown below.
- Very loose looking.
- Surgical knots look undone or unwound.
- Long pieces sticking out.
Why they’re hanging
If you notice the oral sutures hanging, it could mean that they’re ready to come out or it could also be a complication. We’ll list as many potential causes that we can think of below.
Causes for dissolving sutures to be hanging:
- Ready to come out. If it has been a few days, your body may have dissolved enough of it where it is now at the end of its useful life. This is a good sign because you may not need them much longer.
- Knot was unwound. Sometimes when you’re eating they could loosen up and unwind.
- Wasn’t tied properly. Maybe your dentist didn’t tie the knot secure enough.
- Stitches rejection. It could be possible that your body is trying to reject them by pushing them out of your body.
Follow up appointment
Our professional recommendation for stitches that are hanging in your mouth is to make a follow up appointment with your dentist. Having it professionally evaluated is the safest and best decision that you can make.
Pros & Cons
- Safer than DIY remedies.
- They did the procedure so they know what it’s supposed to look like.
- No additional cost since it was part of the initial surgical procedure.
- Requires trip to dentist.
Depending on why the sutures could be hanging in the mouth, your dentist may remove them or they may place new ones.
Removing them is an option especially if they’re about to fall out because they’ve served their purpose. The surgical site has healed enough and your body no longer needs them. If this is the case, suture removal should be performed. (It’s a painless and quick as shown below)
However, if they’re hanging because of a complication, unwound or wasn’t tied properly, your dentist may need to place new ones.
Cut the sutures shorter
If the stitches are hanging, they’re probably bothering you because they can be poking your lips, tongue, or cheek. Those could be reasons for you to want to do something about it such as attempting to cut them shorter.
However, we would advise against cutting them shorter yourself at home. If you want to do it, you should see your dentist and have them do it for you.
Cons for DIY trimming:
- Potentially injury. If your stitches are in the back of your mouth such as wisdom teeth stitches, it can be pretty hard for you to see. It’ll be difficult for you to do this yourself because you may injure yourself and cut your gums by accident!
- Cut the wrong thing. You’ve no experience removing stitches so you most likely don’t know what you’re doing. You could very well cut a suture that you’re not supposed to.
We wish to emphasize that you don’t know what you’re doing so you shouldn’t do it. For a single suture knot, you may be able to do it yourself but if your dentist ties a more complex knot, how would you even know that you’re cutting the right thread?
Below is an example of a single knot vs a more complex surgical knot.
If you wanted an analogy it would be like those movie scenes of cutting the wire to defuse a bomb. Are you cutting the right wire? Or in this case… are you cutting the right suture?
Pull the stitches out
An alternative to cutting them is to pull the hanging sutures out but we also recommend against doing this.
Cons for pulling them out:
- May not be ready to remove. Sometimes the threads can seem like they’re hanging on by a thread but they may not be ready. If they haven’t dissolved enough, pulling on them will not be enough to remove it.
- Introduce bacteria if you pull the wrong way. There is in fact the right way to pull out stitches and the wrong way. Doing it the wrong way can introduce MORE bacteria into the surgical site which would be detrimental.
It’s not a good idea to try pulling out dissolvable stitches yourself. You can momentarily hurt yourself or even cause an infection.
Let them dissolve
The safest DIY solution for hanging absorbable stitches would be to leave them alone and let them dissolve on their own.
Pros for letting them dissolve:
- You won’t injure yourself by trying to cut them with scissors.
- You won’t pull them out the wrong way and unintentionally cause an infection.
Cons waiting for them to dissolve:
- Could take some time before they completely fall out on their own.
- The threads could be irritating your cheeks, tongue, or lip while you wait on dissolution.
When will they fully dissolve?
Depending on the type of material the dissolvable stitch is made of, the dissolution time will vary. Although the most commonly used dissolving suture for oral purposes would be chromic gut and it comes in a yellow color. If it is the chromic gut suture, it’ll typically fall out of the mouth within 10-14 days.
|Absorbable Sutures||Color||Dissolution Time|
|Fast Gut||Yellow||21-42 days|
|Plain Gut||Yellow||70 days|
|Chromic Gut||Yellow||90 days|
|Polyglycolic acid (PGA)||Purple||60-90 days|
|Polydioxanone (PDS)||Purple||182-238 days|
|Polytrimethylene carbonate (Maxon)||Green||120-180 days|
|Polyglactin 910 (Vicryl rapide)||Purple||42 days|
|Glycomer 631||Purple||90-110 days|
|Polyglytone 6211||Purple||56 days|
|Poliglecaprone (Monocryl)||Purple||90-120 days|
Note: Please be aware that the listed times above are for complete absorption. Most self-dissolving stitches will typically dissolve enough and fall out before they get completely dissolved.
Can you dissolve them faster?
There is no proven way to make absorbable sutures dissolve faster but we do have a theory about how drinking pineapple juice may help expedite the process. It’s not harmful and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to drink an extra glass.
If you’ve stitches that are hanging by a thread in your mouth, you can either leave them alone or see your dentist. If they’re bothering you, the former may be difficult to abide by and in that case you should have your dentist remove them. Although if they don’t bother you, you can just leave them be.
Please do not try to pull them out yourself or even worse, attempting to cut them!