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How To Remove Food stuck in wisdom tooth hole

Immediately after having your wisdom teeth removed, there will be a hole where the tooth use to be and that can be a potential food trap. It may take as long as 4-8 weeks for the hole to completely close so you should try your best to not get any food stuck in there. Luckily for you, we've quite a few tips to help you get the food out of the hole.

debris in wisdom tooth hole
debris in wisdom tooth hole

Table of Contents:

How to get food out of wisdom tooth hole

We've compiled a list of home remedies which you can use to get the food out of your wisdom tooth hole. If one doesn't work, give a different one a try until you finally dislodge it.

Ways to get stuck food out of wisdom tooth hole:

  • Salt water rinse

  • Prescription mouth rinse

  • Natural mouth rinse

  • Plastic syringe or pipette irrigator

  • Water flosser

  • Gentle brushing

  • Cotton swab

Note: The extraction socket should not be disturbed within the first 24 hours. It is only after that you can try to remove any stuck food.

Salt water rinse

The best way to remove food stuck in the wisdom tooth hole is to rinse vigorously with salt water after every meal. This is because salt is anti-inflammatory and is at a neutral pH so it won't burn the wound socket. If you remember to rinse with salt water every time after you eat, you shouldn't be getting any food stuck in the hole at all.

Here is how to use a salt water rinse:

  1. Add a teaspoon of salt to 8 oz of water.

  2. Stir the mixture.

  3. Rinse vigorously for 2 minutes.

  4. Spit out and repeat as many times as needed.

As a reminder, rinsing with salt water was a part of the wisdom tooth extraction aftercare instructions. You're supposed to use this rinse after every meal to prevent food from getting into the hole in the first place.

Prescription mouth rinse

Your dentist may have given you a bottle of prescription mouth rinse to use after the procedure. If they did, you can simply rinse with this like the salt water.

chlorhexidine mouthwash

How to use chlorhexidine rinse:

  1. Measure out 10 mL in the bottle cap.

  2. Rinse and swish for 1 minute.

  3. Spit it back out, don't swallow.

  4. Do not rinse, eat, or drink for 1-2 hours after.

The most commonly prescribed mouthwash is chlorhexidine which has antibacterial properties. It may not taste the best but it works very well in helping the gums heal. One downside is that it can cause teeth staining so be sure you brush and floss prior to using it.

Note: Chlorhexidine will stick to plaque and that is how it causes staining. By brushing and flossing prior to rinsing with it, it will decrease the amount of staining.

Natural mouth rinses

In lieu of the prescription rinse and the salt water, you can use any other type of mouth rinse as well. Some people prefer a more natural rinse so here are a couple of alternatives.

  • Coconut oil

  • Thyme

  • Peppermint tea

  • Chamomile tea

  • Green tea

  • Cloves

Plastic syringe or pipette irrigator

Some dentists like to give their patients a small plastic syringe or pipette for you to use. You're supposed to fill it with water and use it to flush out the extraction socket.

How to use a plastic syringe irrigator:

  1. Fill the syringe or pipette with water.

  2. Aim it into the wisdom tooth hole.

  3. Squirt with pulsatile pressure until food dislodges.n socket

You can keep using the syringe for at least 1 week but there is nothing wrong with using it until the socket fully closes.

Water flosser

If you have a water flosser like the waterpik, you can use it to flush the stuck food out of the wisdom tooth hole. This device shoots highly pressurized water which makes it very effective for dislodging food. This is the best alternative to using a syringe.

Waterpik-water flosser on floor

How to use a water flosser:

  1. Move setting to "Massage" for pulsatile water pressure.

  2. Aim water flosser into wisdom tooth hole.

  3. Turn the handle to on.

  4. Start with low pressure setting and increase as needed.

The water flosser is the best way to clean the wisdom teeth holes without a syringe because it serves the same function. In fact, it is more effective than cleaning the hole with a syringe because it can generate higher water pressure than a manual syringe.

Gentle brushing

Believe it or not but sometimes gently brushing the area can help remove food that may be caught in the hole. Just be sure to go slowly in the area since it is an open wound. You don't want to be too aggressive and cause damage.

A lot of people are afraid of brushing near the area since it literally looks like a big hole that is missing a tooth. Due to that reason, food is more likely to get stuck in the wisdom tooth hole because you're cleaning it less! One of the best ways to prevent food from getting into there is by brushing it. The lesson is do not avoid the area just because it is healing.

Cotton swab

If you see food in the hole you can use a cotton swab and swab it out. Since the ends of the sab have cotton fibers on it, food and debris can stick to the cotton fiber. That facilitates the removal of anything that may be in the hole.

Note: Please don't use your finger to try to remove food from the wisdom tooth socket. Your fingers are typically not clean, especially if you didn't wash them. They're also much larger than a cotton swab so you probably can't even get back there! Just use the cotton swab please, it is gentler, safer, and cleaner than your finger.


What happens if you can't get the food out of the wisdom tooth hole?

Stuck food in the wisdom tooth hole that is unable to be removed will produce malodor, prolong the healing time, and it may cause discomfort.

  • Malodor. Unremoved food that is lodged in the socket will start to smell. Imagine leaving your lunch on the table for a week, what do you think would happen? It will start to rot and smell bad. Now if you had food that is left in the hole, the same thing would happen.

  • Prolonged healing. The lodged food can interfere with the wound healing process. The hole is trying to close but having food in there would force your body to work around it or work harder. The overall result is a delay in healing. Last resort would be the body having to absorb it and break it down.

  • Discomfort. The feeling of having food stuck in the hole can be quite irritating. We all know how annoying it can be when you have food stuck between your teeth that needs to be flossed out. Can you imagine how bad it is if a large chunk of food is wedged into the extraction socket?


How to tell if food is stuck in wisdom tooth hole

The three ways you can tell that food is stuck in your wisdom tooth hole is if you see it, you smell it, or you feel it.

  • You see it. Go into a well lit bathroom and use a small flashlight to look into the wisdom tooth hole. You may be able to see if food is stuck in the hole or not. Please be aware that you'd only be able to see the hole for the lower wisdom tooth, the upper one would be physically impossible for you to see directly. The color can be whatever colored food that you ate and that includes black colored foods.

  • You smell it. If you've been noticing a foul odor, it may be a sign that food is stuck in your extracted wisdom tooth socket. The food that is lodged in there is starting to ferment like moldy cheese, thus causing a malodor.

  • You feel it. You know when you can feel if food is stuck between your teeth and you need to floss it out? You can sometimes feel if food is stuck in the extraction socket. However just because you don't feel anything, it doesn't mean that the hole is clear of food.

What may look like food but is not

The vast majority of time when people peer into their wisdom tooth hole and they see white stuff, they assume it is food. That is an incorrect assumption because that is not food.

white stuff (granulation tissue) wisdom tooth hole
white stuff (granulation tissue) wisdom tooth hole

If you see white stuff in a wisdom tooth socket it is actually granulation tissue. That is a part of the healing process and is not concerning because it's a sign that you're recovering. Your gums go through an ugly duckling phase where it looks white before it heals back to a pink color.

Differentiating white stuff from food:

  • Doesn't smell. There should be no malodor since its not food and it doesn't ferment.

  • White with red specks. It looks white but can have red specks in it. The red specks are blood vessels that are forming.

  • No discomfort. Granulation tissue is a part of your body so it won't cause any pain.


How to prevent food from getting stuck in wisdom tooth hole

The old adage that prevention is worth a pound of cure would apply here.

  • Chew on the other side. For the first week after the procedure, try to chew more on the other side. This will decrease the chances of food getting stuck. It will also be more comfortable because the side with the extraction is healing and will be tender to chew.

  • Brush and floss. Try your best to brush and floss as much as possible to remove all residual foods. If food is floating around in your mouth, it may become lodged in the hole. Maintain good oral hygiene.

  • Rinse after each meal. Rinsing vigorously with salt water after each meal should be sufficient in preventing and removing all foods in the wisdom tooth hole. In fact, that is the only suggestion that your dentist probably gave you. The reason is because it works.

  • Avoid certain foods. Small hard foods like seeds, popcorn, nuts, etc have a high propensity for getting lodged into the socket. Maybe you should wait a week until most of the extraction hole has closed before you resume eating these foods.

  • Eat softer foods. Softer foods that are easier to chew are also less likely to get stuck in the hole. Even if they do they will quickly breakdown.

Recommended soft foods:

  • scrambled eggs

  • cooked noodles and pasta

  • soups

  • smoothies

  • mashed potatoes

  • yogurt

  • applesauce

  • pudding

  • avocados


Healing time for wisdom tooth hole closure

On average you can expect the wisdom tooth hole to be healed and fully closed after about 3-4 weeks. You should notice the socket getting smaller and smaller with each passing day. In fact, you should barely notice it after about 10-14 days. That is also when you can expect to stop worrying about it.

Just so that you're aware, even if the gums close over after a month, the socket is still healing. The bone underneath the gums takes about 3-4 months for it to completely fill in. So even though it may look like you're done healing by the 4 week mark, it's actually still healing all the way until the 4 month mark.

What to expect:

  • Resume normal activities 2-3 days after wisdom tooth removal.

  • Fully functional at 100% by the end of 7 days.

  • Continue to keep socket clean until food stops getting stuck.

What if the hole never closes?

We've never seen a wisdom tooth hole that has refused to close. However if you have certain medical conditions, it may affect the rate of closure.

  • Normal healthy individuals can expect it to close after 3-4 weeks.

  • Older individuals with impaired healing can expect 4-6 weeks for full closure.


When to see dentist

The wisdom tooth extraction socket should heal uneventfully. However you should call your dentist immediately if you notice any signs or symptoms of a complication.

Signs you should see a dentist:

  • Swelling. It is normal to be swollen for the first day or two. Anything longer than that or if it worsens, you have a complication.

  • Worsening pain. Pain typically peaks 48-72 hours after surgery. Anything longer than that is considered abnormal.

  • Presence of pus. If you notice white fluids coming out of the hole, that is an infection.

  • Persistent bleeding. Most of the bleeding should've stopped by the first day. If it continues to ooze there is a complication.

  • Fever. Having a fever may be a sign of an infection.

  • Numbness. The anesthesia may take about 3-4 hours for it to wear off. Some people may require more time especially if you were given additional doses during the procedure. If you're still numb the day after the procedure, you may have an injured nerve.

  • Water in the nose when drinking. If fluids are coming out of your nose when you drink, there may be a sinus perforation.

  • Malodor. Bad smell coming from the wisdom tooth hole.


It is not uncommon to get food stuck in the hole that was left behind by your wisdom tooth removal. There are many home remedies which you can use to remove the stuck food but if you are unable to, you can always contact one of our dentists in long island city to give you a helping hand!



David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

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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