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Are Your Wisdom Teeth Stitches Irritating Your Cheeks?

Updated: Feb 1

Did you just recently get your wisdom teeth extracted and had to go the whole nine yards? After the procedure you had to take potent pain medication, antibiotics, and even had stitches placed over the socket.


Demonstration on stone model stitches that are too long
Very long stitches

That probably fulfilled every expectation of what you thought would happen after getting those pesky third molars out. Although what you weren't expecting were for the wisdom teeth stitches to be irritating your cheeks.


When you took a look in your bathroom mirror you noticed that they were particularly long in length. They also appear to be protruding directly into your cheeks. Every time you tried to talk or eat, they would continually jab into the cheeks. Is that incredibly annoying or what?

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How to fix irritating stitches

If the wisdom teeth stitches are bothering your cheeks, you've three options: cut them shorter, redo the stitches, or wait for them to dissolve.


The 3 fixes:

  • Cut them shorter. Not you but you can return to your dentist and have them cut the sutures shorter. If they're able to, it should be quick procedure that takes less than 5 minutes to do.

  • Redo the stitches. If the sutures cannot be trimmed shorter, your dentist can also replace them into a different spot if possible. Basically they would remove the old stitches and tie a new one in a different location. Of course for this to happen you would need to be numb once more. As you can imagine, getting stitches placed while you're not numb wouldn't be pleasant at all.

  • Wait for them to dissolve. Most of the time, the wisdom teeth sutures are dissolvable, which means that they will resorb on their own. If you have the self-dissolving ones you could just wait and let them disappear all on their own after 7-14 days.


If you wanted to try to figure out if you have dissolvable stitches, we do have a guide with all of them and their respective color. Yes, dissolvable sutures come in different colors.


The best course of action

For the most part, the stitches should be dissolvable so if you don't want to go back to the dentist you can tough it out and let them come out on their own. However if they're non-dissolvable then you'd have no choice but to go see your dentist.


In our experience, the most that we've ever had to do was to trim the sutures a little shorter. That typically solves the irritating cheek issue almost immediately. We've never had to redo any of our stitches ever in our entire career. Although we can see it as a possibility if there is no alternative option. We don't think patients want to get re-anesthetized just to have the sutures redone.


Video of how to fix long wisdom teeth stitches

Below is a video demonstration of how your dentist will fix the long wisdom teeth sutures.



The solution is to see your dentist and the follow up procedure is very quick. It should take no more than a minute as evidence in the video.


Can I fix the stitches at home?

Please do not attempt to cut the stitches yourself at home. A lot of things can potentially go wrong because you've never done it before.

  • The suture can come undone. The stitches need to be a certain length so if you cut them too short the whole knot can come undone. There is also the risk that you may cut the wrong part and that can pull the entire suture out as well.

  • Risk of injury. There is a reason why even dentist don't work on themselves because it is dangerous. You can't see very well and you risk injuring yourself. It is easier to visualize and navigate the oral cavity on someone else rather than yourself. That is why dentists have their own dentist to take care of them! Please don't try to be your own dentist.


The best thing to do would be to just let your dentist take care of it for you. This appointment will be considered as a simple follow up so its not as if you have an additional copay for it. The cost for the visit should've been factored into the wisdom tooth removal. In other words it won't cost you anything out of pocket so you might as well see a professional!


Causes for the irritation

Typically the cause for the wisdom teeth sutures to be irritating your cheeks stems from being too long. If they're sticking out a lot, they can irritate the soft tissue in the mouth by jabbing into them. It's hard to not feel them when they're so long.


Extremely long stitches
Extremely long stitches

And no, your dentist isn't keeping them long on purpose just to cause you irritation. There is a legitimate reason for having them longer rather than shorter and that is for knot security. If the ends of the suture are too short, sometimes it can come undone while you're eating or speaking. A longer end is safer in that it is less likely to become unraveled.


how long stitches are supposed to be after extraction
how long stitches are supposed to be after extraction

Last but not least, another potential cause is the location of the suture knots. Sometimes the knots can be placed in a slightly different location but a lot of times it is non-negotiable. If you need the knot there then you need to knot there. You can't just leave it unstitched!


Some people think why not place the stitches knot on the tongue side? Well that would actually irritate your tongue rather than your cheeks. We're not quite sure if that is any better...


Can I refuse stitches next time?

You cannot refuse stitches because they're not an option that you can decide whether you want it or not. Your dentist tells you that they're going to place stitches after the removal of the wisdom teeth because you need them.


If you didn't need them, your dentist wouldn't have put them in the first place. The reason you're getting them is because it is necessary for your recovery and healing. In case you didn't know, the preference for most dentists is to NOT place stitches when it is not necessary. Usually for fully erupted wisdom teeth, it is absolutely unnecessary to put in the sutures.


Although it is a different story if you have impacted wisdom teeth because the surgery requires making an incision into the gums to peel them back. That technique exposes the tooth so that your dentist can remove it. The only caveat is that the gums need to be stitched back in order for it to heal properly.


If you refuse the sutures, we don't really know how and if you would even heal!


Takeaway

It's not unusual for your wisdom teeth stitches to cause irritation to your cheeks, especially if they happen to be on the longer side. The good news is that if they dissolve, they'll simply melt away all on their own without you doing anything.


Although if they're not dissolvable or you don't want to wait you can go back to see your dentist and have them trim it shorter. It should be a fairly quick appointment and it won't cost you anything. The choice is yours to make!


This article was written by our dentists in Long Island City.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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