Sometimes but not all of the time, you’d get stitches after your wisdom tooth extraction. It certainly wasn’t painful at all while you were getting them since you were still numb from the local anesthesia.
The aftermath for when the numbness wears off is a different story though. The sutures exactly don’t hurt but you can definitely feel them with your tongue and your cheeks.
Do you know how you’re supposed to take care of them while they’re in your mouth? We’ll tell you all about the aftercare. That includes things to watch out for and basically what to expect while they occupy temporary real estate in your mouth.
What the stitches feel like
Once the numbness wears off, you’ll definitely feel the stitches in your mouth. It’s impossible to make them invisible to your tongue and cheeks. After all, your tongue is one of the most sensitive body parts so they will seek out the sutures and you will know where they are.
- Textured. Depending on the type of material the sutures are made of, they’ll have a different texture to them. Some of them are smooth, while others feel braided but that is simply how they’re designed.
- Poking. The ends of the sutures will stick out for knot security. If they’re too short they may unravel while you’re eating or brushing. They will feel like they’re poking your cheeks and tongue. Although they shouldn’t be so long that they’ll drive you crazy.
Types of sutures
There are two types of stitches, the dissolvable ones and the non-dissolvable ones. Within each of those types they can also be made of various kinds of materials.
Based on general preference by dentists and oral surgeons, most wisdom teeth stitches tend to be of the dissolvable type. However you should be aware that which one you’ll ultimately receive will depend on your provider’s personal preference.
There are many different types of dissolvable stitches and how long they last may vary from 5 to 14 days. You won’t be able to tell which one you have so the best thing to do would be to ask your dentist. Although if you wanted to try to figure it out, you can check out our guide with all of the dissolvable stitches and their color.
Nonetheless, your dentist should’ve told you how long they expect it to stay in your mouth before falling out. If they didn’t, here is a chart with some of the commonly used ones and when they fall out.
|Type of Dissolvable Suture||Dissolution Time|
|Fast absorbing gut||5-7 days|
|Plain gut||7-10 days|
|Chromic gut||10-14 days|
|Vicryl rapide||10-14 days|
The dissolving time which we listed in the table above is when we expect them to dissolve and fall out on their own. The listed time is usually when they dissolve enough where they’ll fall out all on their own without any intervention from you.
However just to be clear, the amount of time it takes for them to fully get resorbed by your body is around 3 months. Even if you don’t see them anymore, there are residual pieces that are lodged inside of your gums. These are the pieces which get resorbed by your body over a 3 month period.
How sutures dissolve
The stitches that are made from catgut use the intestinal linings from ruminant animals (cows, sheeps, goats). That means the bulk of it is actually just made of collagen. As you can imagine, your body breaks it down with enzymes just like how it does so with food. After all you can eat animal intestines!best way to care for them
The vicryl on the other hand is made of a resorbable copolymer of glycolic acid and lactic acid called Polyglactin 910. Both of which are commonly found substances and byproducts in the human body. Your body can break it down via normal digestive mechanisms.
For sutures that do not dissolve, you will need to return to your dentist to have them removed. When they come out will be up to your dentist. That is the downside but the plus side is that they are much stronger than their dissolving counterpart.
- Silk. Since it is silk, it is all natural but one of the drawbacks is it’s poor microbial resistance. It tends to accumulate a lot of plaque.
- Nylon. A very smooth synthetic suture that has excellent tensile strength and knot security. It’s material is also resistant to infection.
- PTFE. An extremely smooth and biologically inert material. It is often used in bone grafting and implant procedures. The one downside is the cost because it is the priciest one.
- Polypropylene. Another synthetic material that is very smooth and triggers a minimal inflammatory response. You can recognize it easily by its bright blue color.
How to remove non-dissolving sutures
The suture removal appointment with your dentist should be very quick and painless. It’ll take about 5-10 minutes at most. The removal appointment should’ve been included in the cost of the extraction so there is typically no copay for it. On average you can expect to have the stitches removed after 1-2 weeks but it is up to your dentist’s decision.
What to expect:
- No anesthesia is necessary because it doesn’t hurt.
- Cut the suture near each knot.
- Pull the stitch out.
- Repeat until all of the sutures are gone.
The steps are simple but the way to remove them is technique sensitive. Your dentist does it in a way that minimizes the amount of bacterial contamination. You don’t just cut and pull however you want, you may be pulling bacteria into the socket.
Wisdom teeth stitches aftercare
Proper care will help them stay in longer instead of falling out too soon. The longer they stay in the faster the wisdom tooth hole will heal and close.
Here are some tips on taking care of stitches in your mouth:
- Minimize chewing on that side. Try your best to chew on the opposing side whenever possible. That will minimize the occurrences of food coming into contact with it. Aside from that the side with the extraction will be sore and tender so you probably don’t want to work it too hard.
- Gently brush the area. Yes, you still need to brush your teeth even after wisdom teeth removal. Be extra gentle brushing near the surgical site. You can lightly brush the stitches as well if they appear dirty.
- Salt water rinse. Vigorously rinsing with salt water can help dislodge food, plaque, and debris from the stitches. Studies have shown that it can also decrease the incidence of a dry socket as well. Overall, the saline will help prevent complications such as infections.
- Do not play with them. The stitches may look interesting and come in all sorts of colors but please do not play with them. That includes using your finger (this is probably not clean) and your tongue. Leave it alone because if you don’t you may accidentally unravel the knot.
Foods to avoid
Don’t eat any foods that may irritate the surgical site or make it difficult to clean.
- Sticky foods. Things like peanut butter and caramel can stick to the sutures and make them incredibly difficult to clean off.
- Chewy foods. Avoid chewing gum or chewy steak because your jaw will be tired after the surgery. Excessive chewy foods aren’t good because you need rest more than anything.
- Acidic foods. Anything too sour and spicy can interfere with the blood clotting process. Studies have shown that even a 0.4 decrease in pH can reduce clotting effectiveness by 25%.
Other things to avoid
The sutures will contribute to stabilizing the blood clot which is trying to develop and mature. However there are other activities which may undo your effort and dislodge the clot by creating intraoral pressure.
- Spitting. It is better to let any residual blood dribble out than forcefully spit it out.
- Rinsing. Vigorous rinsing is a big no no.
- Drinking through a straw. The suction pressure can loosen the clot.
- Smoking. Smokers have been shown to have 3x the chances of getting a dry socket when compared to a non-smoker.
- Exercising. Physical activity that gets your heart pumping may induce bleeding. Avoid it on the day of surgery.
What to do if the stitches are bothering you
There are times where they can bother you by irritating the cheeks or the tongue. It can be due to the ends of the sutures being too long or they were placed in an undesirable location. You’ve three options on what to do for them.
- Cut the ends shorter. If the ends of the knot are indeed too long, simply have your dentist trim them shorter. It should be a quick 5 minute visit but please don’t attempt it yourself. You can potentially cut yourself by accident since you can’t see too well.
- Place stitches in different area. It may be possible to redo them and place it in a different spot. Just to let you know if you opt for this you will need to be numbed once more. It won’t be very pleasant to have stitches placed while you’re not numb.
- Wait for them to fall out. Most of the wisdom teeth sutures are self-dissolving. That means you could just wait and let them fall out all on their own in 10-14 days.
How to tell if they’re infected
Anything in your mouth can get infected such as your teeth, gums, and even foreign objects (piercings). Your stitches are foreign objects so of course they can get infected.
Signs of infected wisdom teeth stitches:
- Pus. White fluids oozing out of the stitches is a tell-tale sign of an infection. That white liquid is called purulence and is composed of dead bacteria and white blood cells.
- Malodor. You may having bad breath or even a bad taste in your mouth.
- Looks red. The surgical site looks very red instead of the healthy light pink.
- Swollen or inflamed. If the entire extraction site looks swollen or inflamed.
- Pain. The area may be tender/sore but you shouldn’t experience increasing amounts of pain especially after the third day.
Treatment for infected sutures
Infected sutures will require treatment with a dentist. There is no home remedy that can rectify this situation.
- Remove infected suture. The stitches will need to be removed if they are the source of the infection. You may or may not need new ones afterwards.
- Clean out the infection. If there is swelling, it will need to be drained. Afterwards your dentist will flush out the entire area with an antibiotic solution.
- Antibiotics. You should expect to be prescribed antibiotic pills to take. That will ensure that infection is eliminated and does not return.
When does the wisdom tooth hole fully heal
It’ll take about 3-4 weeks for the wisdom tooth hole to fully close and be considered heal. Right after the extraction there will be a large hole in the socket of where the tooth used to be. You should notice the hole shrink in size with each passing day.
With that being said, your stitches won’t be nor do they need to be present for the entire healing duration. Their assistance is most needed during the first few days or week after the extraction. After that, the body can heal just fine without them.
Getting stitches after removing your third molars may not be the most pleasant since they’ll be physically in your mouth for about 1-2 weeks. That means you will have to live with them and take care of them. If there is any consolation, they do help the wisdom tooth hole heal faster. You’ll notice the hole close faster with them than without them!
If you have the dissolvable ones, they’ll fall out before the two weeks are up. However if you have the non-resorbing ones you will need to return to your dentist to have them removed. The good news is that the follow up appointment should be painless.
Hopefully that answers all of your questions. Just don’t forget the rest of the wisdom teeth aftercare instructions.