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Identifying Non-Dissolvable Stitches By Color

Are you wondering if your stitches are non-dissolvable? If they are you will need a follow up appointment to have them removed because they will not get resorbed by the body. That means they won't fall out all on their own!


non-dissolvable black lip sutures
non-dissolvable black lip sutures

The non-dissolving sutures typically have a distinct color which you can use to identify them. The best way to know is to ask your doctor but color matching does give you a general idea of which type they may be.


Table of contents:


What color are non-dissolvable stitches?

Non-dissolvable stitches can come in different colors ranging from black, white, blue, green, and metal. Each color represents the type of material that the threads are made of. Therefore the specific non-resorbable suture can be readily identified simply by seeing what color they are. It is a crude way of figuring out what you have.


Color chart of non-dissolvable stitches

Suture Material

Suture Color

Silk

Linen

Polypropylene

Nylon (polyamide)

Polyester

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE/Gore-Tex®)

Polyvinylidine fluoride (PVDF)

Stainless steel


Please be aware that sometimes, the stitches can come undyed, which would make them colorless or white looking. The colors we listed are their dyed colors.


 

Each type of suture and their color

The sutures which do not dissolve can be grouped into three categories.

  • Natural

  • Synthetic

  • Metal


For the most part, they all look pretty similar aside from their color and texture.


All natural non-absorbable sutures

The most common all natural sutures are made of either silk or linen. They're both materials which are commonly found in nature. If you want something organic, these two are you top choices.

  • Silk = black

  • Linen = white


silk black stitches
silk black stitches

Synthetic non-resorbable stitches

The synthetic non-dissolvable stitches are all man-made and they come in a variety of different materials. That also means they'll come in different colors as well.

  • Polypropylene = blue stitches

  • Nylon (polyamide) = black, blue and green

  • Polyester = green and white

  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE/Gore-Tex®) = white

  • Polyvinylidine fluoride (PVDF) = blue



Based on our personal experience, the green stitches are more rare because we don't see them that often.


Metal sutures

Yes, there are metal sutures and they're stainless steel to be exact. Since they're metal, their color would simply be metallic.


  • Abdominal wound closure

  • Intestinal anastomosis

  • Hernia repair

  • Sternal closure

  • Skin closure


 

How to figure out if your stitches are non-dissolvable

The best way to identify which suture you have is by comparing their color to what we have listed. If the color looks the same then that is probably what it is.


How to identify your stitches:

  1. Go to a well lit room.

  2. Take a photo of it with flash on with your cell phone or camera.

  3. Compare the taken photo with the listed sutures.


types of sutures
Credit: medicshelf

If you don't recognize the color that you have, you may have a dissolvable suture.


Alternatively you can always give your dentist a call and the receptionist can look in your notes to see what they used. That would actually be the most accurate way to know. Your answer may be a phone call away.


 

Non-absorbable sutures in the mouth

The two most common non-absorbable sutures that dentists like to use for the mouth are silk and PTFE. That means it'll either look black or white in color. If you see either of those two colors you should know that you received non-dissolving stitches.


black silk sutures over extraction socket
black silk sutures over extraction socket

As general preference, most wisdom teeth stitches tend to be dissolvable but your dentist may choose to use a non-dissolving one. It's all based on their preference.


Dental procedures that tend to use non-resorbable sutures:

  • Bone grafting

  • Dental implants

  • Osseous surgery (gum surgery)

  • Gum grafting


Removing non-resorbable sutures

Since they are not self-dissolving, you will need to return to your doctor to have them physically removed. The suture removal process should be painless and quick.


How to take stitches out:

  1. Grab the stitch near the knot with college pliers.

  2. Lift it up 1-2mm.

  3. Snip underneath of the knot with surgical scissors.

  4. Pull the suture out.


Local anesthesia is typically not necessary for this appointment so you can rest assured. It will be much more pleasant than when you had to get them put in.


Takeaway

The color of the non-dissolvable suture will depend on the type of material that they're made of. Different thread materials will come in different colors. Manufacturers dye them to be a particular color to help clinicians easily identify them.


Luckily for you, you can also use the same information to figure out whether yours are absorbable or non-absorbable as well! If they happen to be the latter, you will need to return to your doctor to have them removed.


If you need non-dissolvable sutures removed and you're in Long Island City, our dentists can help you out if you're unable to see your own dentist.

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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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