Surgical sutures, or also commonly known as stitches, are medical threads use to hold body tissue together after an injury or surgery. Do you know that the earliest reports of surgical stitches date back to 3000 BC in ancient Egypt and the oldest known suture is in a mummy from 1100 BC!
Back in those days, stitches were made from many different materials such as hair, linen, grass, bark, tendon etc. With the advancement of medical technology, stitches now come in various safe and sterilized materials and some are even absorbable!
Read on to learn more about stitches, including types of stitches used by our dental surgeons at Ocean Dental and how to care for them after your wisdom tooth surgery.
Types of stitches
Stitches generally come with a needle and an attached length of thread. There are various type of stitches which differ by needle shape and size, as well as the thread material and properties.
The suture thread material can generally be classified into two categories – absorbable thread and non-absorbable thread. They can also be further classified into synthetic versus natural. Another important distinction among stitches material is whether it is monofilament or polyfilament (braided). 
Absorbable stitches, also known as dissolving stitches are those that dissolve and disintegrate on its own. These absorbable stitches are often used for closing deep wounds or internally during surgery to avoid further procedures of stitches removal.
They are also commonly used for closing wounds which have difficult access making it hard for stitches removal to be carried out.
Non-absorbable stitches on the other hand are made of non-dissolving threads that hold greater tensile strength for longer period of time.
They are used for long term wound closure or wounds that are subjected to higher mechanical or shear force. Non-absorbable stitches are also commonly used on areas where aesthetic outcome is crucial whereby they will be removed early to avoid tissue inflammation and avoid leaving undesirable track marks or scarring.
Why are stitches needed after wisdom tooth surgery?
The most common reason for wisdom teeth removal is due to impacted wisdom teeth. When the tooth is partially erupted and does not grow out completely, it forms a pocket where food tends to get stuck between.
It is also harder to clean, increasing the chances of tooth decay and gum disease.
During wisdom tooth surgery, a surgical incision is required to expose the wisdom tooth buried in the bone and when the tooth has been removed, your dentist will stitch the gum back using surgical suture.
Stitches help close up the wound by holding your gum tissue together and this helps to stop bleeding and aid blood clot to form in the tooth socket after the wisdom tooth removal.
Blood clots forming in the tooth socket are especially important after the procedure as they protect the tooth extraction site from harmful bacteria, air, food and other debris in the mouth which may cause infection.
Do wisdom teeth stitches dissolve or fall out?
Over the years, dissolving stitches are becoming more commonly used by oral surgeons after wisdom tooth removal.
Such dissolving stitches usually start to dissolve within a week or two, although it may take up to few weeks before they completely disappear.
At Ocean Dental, our dentist and oral surgeon uses mid-term absorbable braided suture with improved tensile strength and better flexibility performance.
Even though such stitches dissolve over time, our dentist will always arrange for an appointment one to two weeks after the oral surgery for review and removal of the stitches once the extraction site is healing well.
Is it normal to feel stitches after wisdom teeth removal?
Depending on the size of the wound, there will usually be at least 3 stitches placed to hold the gums together.
Therefore, it is normal for you to be able to feel the stitches in your mouth. Even though it may be annoying to some patient, it usually doesn’t cause much issue and you may probably forget its existence after some time.
How long does it take for wisdom teeth to heal with stitches?
Wisdom tooth surgery is one of the most common dental surgery. Even though it is a minor surgical procedure, it may take up to 2 weeks to recover from the post surgery discomfort.
The actual length of time it takes varies from person to person, but most patient can return to work 2-3 days following the surgery.
The healing process may follow this timeline:
- First 24 hour: Blood clots will form
- 2-3 days: Swelling of the mouth and cheeks reaches its maximum
- 7 days: Review appointment and removal of stitches
- 7-10 days: Swelling, jaw stiffness and soreness should resolve
- 2 weeks: Mild visible bruising should heal
Aftercare instructions will be given to patient by the surgeon after the surgery. It is important to pay attention to these instructions as it will help prevent any wisdom tooth infections which may delay the recovery process.
Aftercare instructions after wisdom teeth removal
- Have a restful day. No strenuous exercise or heavy lifting.
- No smoking or alcohol for a week.
- Immediately after the procedure, you will still be numb. The numbness will last for 3-4 hours before sensation returns slowly. Care should be taken to avoid biting on your lip, tongue or cheeks during this time.
- Bleeding should be minimal by the time you leave the clinic. Bite down hard on a piece of gauze over the extraction site for at least 30 minutes. If bleeding continues, re-apply pressure using a new piece of gauze for a further 30 minutes.
- You may experience some pain following the surgery but it should gradually improve over the next few days. Simple painkillers should help you cope with the pain.
- If there is a sudden increase in pain after a few days, this may indicate infection and you should seek help from your dentist.
- Do not rinse your mouth for the first day. This may disturb the blood clot and cause bleeding. Start using chlorhexidine solution mouthwash or warm salt water the next day. Brush your teeth as per normal but avoid the wound area for the first few days.
- Swelling is common after surgery and should resolve 7-10 days after the surgery.
- Bruising of the face occasionally occurs and can take up to 2 weeks to resolve.
Can you eat with wisdom teeth stitches?
It is advisable to go on soft diet during the first few days immediately after the surgery.
Using your own discretion, you may gradually start eating normally according to your own pace subsequently. Having the stitches in your mouth is unlikely to cause any issue while eating.
In some case, the stitches may come loose and drop out. This isn’t a cause for concern in most cases, except if you notice any signs or symptoms of infection, bleeding or wound opening up. If you have any concern, feel free to contact your dentist for help.
Dental stitches are used after wisdom teeth removal to close the extraction hole and prevent infection.
Even though there are stitches which dissolve over time, our dentist and surgeon at Ocean Dental will always arrange an appointment one week after the surgery for review and to remove the stitches. This helps us ensure that your wound is extraction site is healing well and free from infection.
If you are having any problems with your wisdom teeth, feel free to check out our wisdom teeth removal service or contact us at 62663011 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team of surgeons will be happy to assist you!
- Miriam Byrne, MD, FRCS (Plast), Al Aly, MD, FACS, The Surgical Suture, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Volume 39, Issue Supplement_2, April 2019, Pages S67–S72, https://doi.org/10.1093/asj/sjz036
- Rose J, Tuma F. Sutures And Needles. [Updated 2021 Sep 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539891/