Holes from wisdom tooth extraction
November 24, 2004 10:13 PM   Subscribe

WisdomTeethFilter. My wife had two wisdom teeth removed - not the first she had taken out, but some differences this time. She's wondering if things are normal. [more is inside]

As a person with all 32 teeth in the right spot, I can't say from experience, but she's sort of worried. She now has two big holes in the lower jaw where the teeth used to be, and has to flush them out after eating. Nothing she can find online so far has said how normal these holes are or how long they take to fill in - if they ever fill in completely. Today, while rinsing one empty tooth socket, she started bleeding again. It's been three weeks since the teeth were removed. Are they supposed to be bleeding at this point? Her doc said no peanuts or popcorn for a month after the stitches came out; I really can't see how the holes she has could fill in enough to stop a popcorn kernel from lodging in there by next week. Anyone with wisdom teeth removal experience, please share...
posted by caution live frogs to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
Yep, they fill in. I had 4 removed, and they took a long time to heal. Several months, actually. I flushed with salt water whenever it felt like something was in the holes and everything turned out fine.
posted by cmonkey at 10:32 PM on November 24, 2004

What the monkey said. But also, and I feel bad for saying this, questions regarding medical issues should probably be directed towards a medical professional, not ask MeFi.

That being said, I also had a lot of concerns after I had my wisdom teeth out (MY MOUTH IS A FOUNTAIN OF BLOOD!!!) and my dentist was very patient and understanding about my questions.
posted by wolftrouble at 10:40 PM on November 24, 2004

Ditto. My upper holes took maybe two months to fill in, and they felt like pretty big holes until one day I put my finger back there and realized that they were gradually filling in, and just didn't feel to my tongue like they had been filling in. As for the bleeding, I wouldn't worry too much; she may just have been rinsing too hard. Then again, IANAD.
posted by Bugbread at 10:43 PM on November 24, 2004

Over time the cavity will fill in. I can't recall how long it took for mine to heal but seemed to be a long time - couple months maybe? If it is bleeding a lot (not just a pink tinge) then bite on some gauze and see the dentist. She should probably still rinse with warm water with salt from time to time as well.
posted by squeak at 10:55 PM on November 24, 2004

I had bloody green glop from infected sinuses dripping through my upper holes- they also took months to heal. Consider her lucky that there is no green glop.
posted by pissfactory at 2:56 AM on November 25, 2004

IANOD but wisdom teeth are a big YMMV area. I had 6 wisdom teeth (yes SIX, a dental freak of nature if you will) removed, the bottom two by an oral sturgeon, and both sets of the tops by regular dentists over the course of a couple of years. You probably already know this but the holes go away by virtue of your other teeth spreading out. I'd imagine that's the main reason the time varies from person to person, along with the size of the teeth that were removed.

That said, if she's still concerned, she should call her dentist and have it looked at.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:30 AM on November 25, 2004

I had my two bottom wisdom teeth surgically removed several years ago. They bled (a lot) for weeks, and didn't really heal for months.

I'm guessing she will need to do the whole flushing-with-saltwater routine for quite a while - I had to do it for 2 or 3 months.
posted by JeffL at 4:50 AM on November 25, 2004

I had the same experience as most people here. The bleeding lasted a couple weeks and the holes took 3-4 months to smooth over/heal. But even though the wounds healed, the "holes" are still sort of there even after 10 years. They're maybe only half as deep as they originally were, but there are definitely still holes where my lower wisdom teeth were. The holes don't get filled with food like in the beginning, but they're there.

And here's something unsettling: About a year after my (4) wisdom teeth were removed and the holes had healed, I noticed a small bump forming under the skin where my right/rear wisdom tooth had been. After a couple days of fiddling with it (with my tongue) I decided to check it out in the mirror and was surprised to see a little white toothy-looking thing poking through my gum. I was totally shocked and thought my wisdom tooth was growing back! I was away at college at the time so I couldn't get to my dentist and I wasn't in pain or anything, so I just let it go.

After about a week, the new "tooth" had sprouted through the surface of my gum and one day it started wiggling when I ran my tongue over it. Later that night, it became totally loose and I reached in and pulled it out. What it was was a chunk of tooth a little larger than a popcorn kernal that the dentist didn't remove. (I guess when she removed my teeth, they were so impacted, she had to shatter each tooth individually and pull out the pieces, rather than getting each tooth as a whole.) During the operation, she somehow missed a piece of tooth that was roughly 1/3 the size of a tooth! And it took a year for it to work its way to the surface.

After that, I never contacted the dentist and never discovered any other tooth chunks.

Use the syringe with warm water! Keep the wounds clean!
posted by evoo at 5:46 AM on November 25, 2004

The cheapest version of the Water Pik (actually, the Conair Water Jet is the cheapest one on Amazon) is not a bad investment at this point. You do spend months going through "so that's where that sandwich went!" and the Pik is much easier to aim and does more efficient flushing because it pulses.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:58 AM on November 25, 2004

I got all three (fourth one mysteriously not present -- same as my mom and her dad) of my wisdom teeth removed a month after my high school graduation. My holes closed up pretty quickly -- I think it only took three or four weeks. I was, however, obsessive about keeping my mouth, the stitches, and the ensuing holes as clean as possible, though. My mom's a nurse, and after hearing all manner of horror stories about what happens to people who get infections anywhere in or on the head, I was determined to keep my bloody little tooth-holes SPARKLING. They closed up beautifully.

So, I second what everyone else said about regularly flushing with the syringe and such. Also, this may be a sensitive question, and I hope it isn't too offensive, but is your wife taking as good care of her teeth/holes as she should be? I guess the stitches have dissolved by now if there are already holes, but did she brush the stitches while they were still there? How many times per day does she brush? Does she floss? Rinse with Listerine? If not, maybe the continued bleeding is a sign of improper care. Or it could be the complete opposite -- perhaps she's brushing too vigorously?

If she's fine on the oral-care front, I guess I'd just go with the "everybody's different" tack -- keep taking care of them, don't eat anything that'll fall in the holes, and they'll close eventually.
posted by fricative at 7:40 AM on November 25, 2004

Also, similar to Lyn Never, I've been brushing with a Sonicare since I was about 17, and my teeth and gums improved light years over how they were when I was brushing with plain ol' manual Oral B. They're not cheap, but you can get a pretty good deal on them (and replacement heads/attachments/etc.) at Costco or Sam's Club.
posted by fricative at 7:42 AM on November 25, 2004

Response by poster: thanks everyone - i think this will help her feel less like she's a freak (her cousin kept asking my wife why her teeth were so weird, as the cousin's oral surgeon had never given her the little syringe and accompanying "avoid nuts" lecture...)

she is a little obsessive about the teeth - she gets complimented by the dentist on her tooth care, so the bleeding freaked her out. now hopefully she can relax and look forward to flushing thanksgiving turkey out of those tooth holes.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2004

Going with what evoo said, you should probably also warn her that, after it's all healed up, chunks of tooth (or, in my case, skull) may work their way to the surface and come out. Totally painless, but freaks you out the first time. Pretty fun after you realize what it is.
posted by Bugbread at 1:47 PM on November 25, 2004

If the holes start causing her undue pain, she may have dry sockets [slightly gross picture of open tooth socket inside]. I got them when my wisdom teeth were removed (I believe it was from washing out the holes a little too enthusiastically with a Water Pic) and it was not a fun experience.

So it might be worth checking that out, but since you didn't mention any pain and it's been three weeks things are probably all right.
posted by schroedinger at 2:06 PM on November 25, 2004

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