How much recovery time do you need after having a tooth pulled?
How much rest and recuperation is needed following a tooth extraction?
Once your tooth has been removed, you’ll need to set aside some “sick time” for rest and recuperation. After all, you’ve just had an invasive procedure performed and your body will need some time and assistance in setting the stage for the healing and repair process that then begins.
How much recovery time should you allow?
The amount of postoperative rest and recuperation required following your extraction will vary according to the circumstances of your procedure and your current health status. As general guidelines …
- For routine extractions – With most cases, the amount of time it takes for you to recover will be relatively minimal and just measured in hours. Although, the downtime you set aside will probably need to encompass most of the day of your surgery.
- For more involved extractions (like wisdom teeth removal or involved surgical extractions) – The amount of leave you’ll require will probably be measured in days.
Guidelines about how much time it takes to recover after having a tooth pulled.
a) How much time off from work is needed after a routine extraction?
For this section, we start off by answering questions that people frequently have. Our answers here are brief. We explain all of these issues in more detail in the text that follows this Q&A section.
Quick answers to 7 questions about taking time off after an extraction.
How long does it take to recover from a tooth extraction procedure?
You should take it easy for about a day. The initial management of your extraction site (bleeding, discomfort) may be successfully accomplished in just a few hours. But you’ll still need to favor the area, monitor it, and follow your dentist’s first-day postoperative dos and don’ts for the full 24 hours.
Do I need to rest after my tooth extraction?
Yes, or at least take it really easy. You’ll be leaving your dentist’s office with a bleeding wound and you’ll need to assist your body in forming and maintaining a blood clot in your tooth’s socket. That process is aided by retiring to a calm, restful environment as opposed to an emotionally or physically stressful or active one.
Do you need to take the day off after having a tooth pulled?
Yes, that’s the ideal situation. Make plans that you can just go on home for the remainder of the day following your extraction procedure.
For most routine cases, that may be a little more rest and recuperation time than you absolutely need. But if you do find it necessary, it’s important that it’s available. Also, people don’t develop post-op complications because they’ve spent too much time following their dentist’s instructions. But the opposite isn’t true.
How long should you stay home after a tooth extraction?
You’ll just have to see how things go. With easy extractions, where postoperative bleeding and discomfort are easily controlled, you might be able to return to light duties later in the day (while still observing all of your dentist’s aftercare instructions).
Can you go back to work after getting a tooth pulled?
That’s not the greatest plan. It would be better to go home first and recuperate. Then, after a few hours where your extraction site has proven to be problem-free, going back to work might be considered if it’s just light-duty (like desk work) and minimal talking is needed.
How long should I take off work after a tooth extraction?
For most people, just being off the day of your extraction is enough. Although, when you do return to work, you’ll still need to continue to comply with your dentist’s postoperative instructions.
If you have a physically strenuous job, there might be concerns about returning to work the next day (ask your dentist). The same goes for participating in vigorous exercise, sports, etc…
Can I go out at night after a tooth extraction?
If you mean in the sense of partying, dancing, and drinking. No, that makes an exceedingly poor idea.
After routine extractions, it’s common to take the rest of the day off.
Most patients are probably best served by just going on home after the completion of their extraction procedure and taking it easy for the rest of the day.
After your extraction, recovery time is needed so the healing process can initiate properly.
That includes allowing enough time and proper conditions for a blood clot to form.
- Doing so will provide you with a period of uninterrupted privacy during that awkward period when the local anesthetic that’s been used to numb up your tooth wears off and your extraction site’s bleeding comes to an end.
- And choosing a private location for your recuperation like your home will make it easier for you to adhere to the restrictions recommended in your dentist’s post-op directions since you won’t have as many opportunities for intrusions, surprises, or accidents.
Following your dentist’s post-op instructions during this initial recovery period is paramount in preventing complications.
The steps you take during the convalesce period you set aside immediately following your extraction procedure are important because they set the stage for the healing process that then begins.
So, during the downtime you’ve scheduled, get started by reading through and getting in sync with your dentist’s aftercare instructions so you’ll know all of the proper dos and don’ts.
Nothing is more important in helping to prevent complications than following these recommendations. Not doing so can result in your struggling with problems both near-term (like prolonged post-op bleeding) or even some days later (like the development of a dry socket).
What steps do post-extraction directions usually include?
- At the top of the list for the first postoperative hours is assisting your body in forming a proper blood clot in your tooth’s socket (biting firmly on gauze, avoiding rinsing).
- Other directions for this initial period include avoiding brushing and flossing near your extraction site. Avoiding smoking is important too.
- Other recommendations include choosing soft foods (e.g. smoothies, yogurt, applesauce, pudding, mashed potatoes) that are less disruptive to your surgical site and tender gum tissue rather than potentially more irritating hard or crunchy foods (e.g. chips, crackers). But avoid consuming warm liquids (like soup or coffee) or using a straw when drinking.
If you need more detailed instructions …
If your dentist didn’t give you written directions (including a list of dos and don’ts), we have pages that provide details about the steps and precautions that are usually best to follow: Post tooth extraction procedure instructions – First 24 hours. Next day and beyond.
The kind of pain medication you take can influence how much time you’ll need to take off work.
Beyond factors directly associated with your surgical site, the amount of recovery time you take off and the location where you do it may be dictated by the kind of pain relievers you find necessary to use following your tooth extraction procedure.
a) Narcotic pain medications.
If you’ve been given a prescription for a narcotic pain reliever, you’ll need to keep in mind that taking it may make you drowsy, dizzy, or lightheaded. Being under the influence of narcotics can also affect your behavior.
So, since you shouldn’t be driving, and you may not be clear-headed enough for work, heading on home after your extraction procedure and settling in for your recuperation time there probably makes the right choice. You may even need the oversight of another individual while you’re resting at home.
b) Over-the-counter pain relievers.
Generally, the side effects associated with taking OTC pain relievers are less concerning than those with narcotics. And their use may allow for more options with your recovery period (amount of time off, location).
In some cases, even many, a full day of post-extraction recuperation may amount to overkill.
Admittedly, with the easiest extractions (smaller teeth, unchallenging removal, small resulting wound, performed for a healthy patient with uncomplicated health history), just taking off an hour or two instead of all day maybe all the recovery time that’s needed. But that’s not to suggest that after a brief duration you can then return to all of your usual activities.
Same instructions and precautions, just an alternate setting.
In all cases, no matter where you choose to continue your recuperation, you’ll still need to implement all of the exact same precautions and restrictions called for by your dentist’s aftercare instructions, for their recommended periods.
It’s just that with less involved cases, after diligently adhering to all instructions initially until you’re able to determine that your extraction site’s bleeding is stopped and all seems normal and tolerable with your situation, that continuing with your needed rest and recuperation can be accomplished equally effectively while being more productive (like sitting at a desk or listening to a lecture) as opposed to just confining yourself to resting at home.
Ideas about where you might settle down for your post-extraction recovery.
Kinds of environments to avoid.
Immediately after having a tooth pulled, what you don’t want is to proceed to an environment where …
- Complying with your dentist’s instructions will be difficult or challenging in any respect.
- There’s potential for events that will raise your heart rate or blood pressure or have any potential for causing extraction site irritation or trauma. That’s because all of these things could disrupt your wound, cause the loss of the blood clot that’s formed, and generally interfere with the healing process that’s begun.
The ideal location for convalescing.
The best place for rest and recuperation following a tooth extraction is one where …
- You can remain calm and sedentary. – Physical activity needs to be avoided. So does a stressful environment.
- Little interpersonal interaction is required. – Your primary focus immediately following your surgery should be concentrating on applying firm constant pressure (biting) on the gauze pad that your dentist has placed over your extraction site.
Doing so is vital in helping the necessary blood clot to form in your tooth’s socket and placing yourself in an environment where you need to talk with others interferes with doing so.
- Enough privacy exists that you won’t hesitate to follow all of your dentist’s aftercare directions. – Such as having a gauze pad in your mouth, which may reveal hints of bleeding or look like a strange bulge to others. Or using ice packs on your face to minimize swelling.
- You have a place where you’ll be comfortable. – For example, partially reclining on a couch or in a comfy chair are good choices.
Usually, a person’s home environment makes the obvious choice for meeting these conditions. And that’s why it’s the location that’s most commonly recommended. But if you have a different local in mind that can equally meet them, that may work just fine too.
Common recuperation guidelines for uncomplicated/routine extraction procedures.
When can you return to work or school?
Returning to routine non-strenuous activities (going to an office job, attending class, shopping) the next day should present no problem. If you have more aggressive or involved activities in mind (including during the next several days) you should clear them with your dentist.
Generally speaking, for people who are healthy who have had the easiest, most routine kind of extraction procedure performed:
- After a short period of recovery, you may be able to return to non-strenuous activities even the same day of your surgery.
- With extractions involving small-sized wounds whose bleeding has been easily controlled (think small single-rooted tooth vs. large multi-rooted molar), returning to moderate physical activity the day following your extraction may be permissible too.
Make sure to ask your dentist.
Of course, it’s your dentist who’s your most valuable resource about the subject of how much post-extraction recovery time will probably be needed for your case.
They’re the person who knows the specifics about both you (health status, medical conditions, medicines, reported dental history, etc…) and the procedure you’ve just had performed.
And based on that information, and determined by their experiences with other patients, they can then give you a qualified opinion about the amount of time they feel will be necessary for you to take off. So, be sure to ask (or call back if you forgot to ask).
b) How much time off from work is needed after involved tooth extraction procedures?
Just like we did above, as a start for this section, we’ll begin by providing some answers to questions people frequently have. However, this time about how much recuperation is needed after having a surgical extraction or undergoing impacted wisdom teeth removal.
Our answers are brief. We explain these issues in more detail in the text that follows this Q&A section.
Questions and Answers.
How long does it take to recover from impacted wisdom teeth surgery?
You should definitely take it easy for the remainder of the day of your procedure. And during this initial period, by following your dentist’s aftercare instructions, you should be able to successfully control your extraction site’s bleeding, manage its discomfort, and take steps toward minimizing the amount of postoperative swelling you experience.
A second day of recovery is frequently taken, especially with relatively more involved or difficult cases or when multiple teeth have been removed. Research studies report that taking 1 to 3 days off following wisdom tooth extraction is common.
Do I need to rest following impacted wisdom tooth removal?
Yes, there’s no question that that makes the best plan for involved oral surgery cases. Making sure you retire to a calm and relaxed environment (like going straight home and resting) can help to ensure that your postoperative experience and your body’s initiation of the healing process both occur without complications.
How long should you stay home after having wisdom teeth out?
Staying in on the day of your surgery makes a good plan. It’s OK to be more mobile on the following days, as long as you stay within the guidelines of your dentist’s aftercare instructions.
Those guidelines will include limiting your activities to just nonstrenuous ones (sitting at a desk, attending a lecture). Your appearance (swelling, bruising) may keep you from wanting to be too public.
Can you go back to work after having your wisdom teeth pulled?
That doesn’t sound like the right plan. Having had surgery should be taken seriously. And what you do (or don’t do) during the initial hours following your procedure can significantly influence the complications you experience both now and later on (prolonged bleeding, formation of a dry socket, etc…)
Do you need to take the following day off work after having your wisdom teeth pulled?
Not always but having the availability of an extra day or two off can be a big asset. Especially after more involved extraction procedures, a patient may still experience awkwardness with eating, speaking, postoperative pain, or swelling for some days following their surgery and therefore appreciate the possibility of extra time off.
Can I go out at night after having my wisdom teeth extracted?
No. Partying, drinking, dancing, etc… on the day of your oral surgery seems like an invitation for postoperative complications to occur. You need to take the fact that you’ve had a surgical procedure seriously and behave accordingly.
With difficult or involved tooth extraction procedures, you may need to take off a few days.
In the case of relatively involved or difficult extractions (like impacted wisdom teeth removal), or cases where some method of Dental Sedation has been used, your dentist may feel strongly about the level to which you must limit your activities during the initial 24 hour period following your surgery, and possibly beyond.
Common guidelines for how much recovery is needed after involved extraction procedures.
When can you return to work or school?
- In regard to strenuous physical activities, your dentist’s concern about your well-being may extend for some days following your surgery. And as such, they may request that you limit strenuous activities for a few days more. You’ll need to ask. Your safety may be involved.
- As far as participating in routine non-strenuous activities (school, desk work, running errands) the following day, the way you feel or look (like if pronounced swelling or bruising has developed) may factor into your decision about how active or public you want to become.
- If some type of I.V. or oral sedation has been used during your procedure, your dentist will provide you with specific instructions and precautions for your postoperative period. They’ll probably request that you have another person monitor your recuperation. This may be needed for some hours until the effects of the sedative have worn off.
And of course, because it’s your dentist who’s most knowledgeable about details pertaining to you, your medical status, and your procedure, they’re also the one who has the most qualified opinion about the amount of post-op recuperation time that you’ll need. So, ask them (or call back if you forgot to ask).
What research studies have reported about taking time off from work after extractions.
Here are some examples of what research studies have reported about the amount of time off patients typically require after having teeth taken out.
FYI: You may notice these points about the information in this section.
- Yes, all of the studies we found on this subject are pretty dated. But then again, over the decades nothing especially significant has changed about the way dentists pull teeth (it’s still just using tools to apply leverage to teeth). So, we feel what they report about the amount of sick time patients needed following their surgeries can still be considered valid.
- The following studies only considered wisdom teeth removal, which you might think is a special, more difficult type of case. And in some ways, you’d be right. As opposed to other teeth in the mouth, no doubt a higher percentage of 3rd molar cases likely are comparatively more involved surgeries.
But that’s not always the case and, in fact, some wisdom tooth extractions can be astoundingly quick and simple (especially upper ones). And since these studies evaluated a full range of types of cases (simplest to most difficult), what’s stated about the shorter end of the amount of time needed for rest and recuperation is probably pretty comparable to what you might expect with a more commonplace (non-wisdom tooth) extraction.
This study followed 201 patients who had third molars (wisdom teeth) removed. The mean number of days taken off for recuperation was 1.07 days (termed in the study as an “inability to work”). However, it also reported that 43% of patients “did not indicate any reduction in working ability.”
As confirmation of this second finding, the authors cited another study (Sindet-Pederson, 1986) that reported 57% of patients reported “no reduction in daily functional ability” following their extraction.
This paper followed the healing outcomes of 522 patients that had 3rd molars removed (from the simplest to very involved surgeries). 81% of the patients took time off from work, for an average of 3 days (with a range of 0 to 10 days). 19% of the patients took no time off.
This study also evaluated patient healing outcomes following wisdom tooth extraction (about 2000 3rd molars). It found that on average patients missed 1.2 days of work, or were unable to perform normal daily activities.
40% of the teeth removed were erupted ones (had come through the gums into a relatively normal position). Removing erupted teeth typically creates less surgical insult than impacted ones, thus possibly explaining the lower amount of recuperation time reported by this study.
Researchers performing this study evaluated the outcomes of 266 patients who had 3rd molar (wisdom tooth) extractions.
- Patients who had their teeth removed under general anesthesia took on average 5.7 days off from work.
- Patients who had their teeth removed just using local anesthesia (normal dental “shots”) or else a local anesthetic plus the use of some type of sedation took off 2.9 days.
(As opposed to general anesthesia, these are the kinds of services most likely to be provided in the office of a general dentist or oral surgeon.)
As an interesting side note, this paper found that patients were found to significantly underestimate the number of days that it would take them to recover from their surgeries (estimated 2.7 days vs. 4.7 days actual).
Page references sources:
Berge TI. Inability to work after surgical removal of mandibular third molars.
Edwards DJ, et. al. Impact of third molar removal on demands for postoperative care and job disruption: does anaesthetic choice make a difference?
Hu ML, et al. Development of an oral and maxillofacial surgery outcomes system for anesthesia and third molar removal: Results of alpha and beta testing.
Lopes V, et al. Third molar surgery: an audit of the indications for surgery, post-operative complaints and patient satisfaction.
All reference sources for topic Tooth Extractions.