A staggering 96% of adults in Canada have a history of cavities and 6% have no teeth at all. Extractions are common, and most patients will have no issues aside from the initial discomfort and minimal bleeding.
However, we’ve had some patients call us because they’re very concerned that their tooth extraction won’t stop bleeding.
First, you must take proper care of your extraction and follow basic care recommendations.
Tooth Extractions and Aftercare
For the first 24 hours following an extraction, you’ll be very limited in what you can do. You want to avoid eating any food on that side of the mouth and abstain from the following:
- Drinking hot drinks
- Using straws
- Sucking on candy, drops, etc.
If you use a straw or something similar, the sucking motion can dislodge the clot that forms, causing the site to bleed or even cause dry socket. Of course, you don’t want to experience any of these issues, so it’s so important to allow your extractions to heal.
Before coming into our office, you’ll want to stock up on very soft foods, such as soup or ice cream, which you’ll eat later on after the extraction.
However, you need to make sure that the soup is lukewarm.
Full healing is expected in 7 - 10 days, and you’ll need to be very cautious of the extraction site at this time. With that said, you should notice that the bleeding stops within the first few hours. We may wait a few months before planning a tooth replacement so the bone can complete full healing.
Note: If the bleeding doesn’t stop, call our office immediately. We’ll examine the extraction site and make recommendations on what to do to stop the bleeding.
How to Stop Extraction Bleeding
Bleeding after extractions is common because you just removed your tooth. This is a standard procedure, but it’s also a serious one. The blood is required to start the clotting process, and you can work to promote healing by doing the following:
- Use a piece of gauze and place it on top of the tooth socket. You will want to use a clean piece of gauze that is slightly damp.
- Roll the gauze up or fold it into a tiny square that you can place on top of the socket. You’ll need to hold this gauze in place for a while with your bite, so make sure that it’s comfortably in your mouth.
- Bite down on the gauze for 20 minutes - change as needed dor as long as it takes to stop bleeding. Normally it takes 1-2 hours.
You want the gauze to be the right size so that it allows for even pressure application on the entire tooth socket. It’s important that this step is followed precisely because when you bite down, the pressure will be what promotes the clotting process.
If you don’t want to use a gauze pad or if you have a tea bag, you can use the tea bag instead of gauze.
Tea contains tannin acids. Applying the tea bag to the area will allow for this acid to leak out slowly over time as your saliva wets the bag. The acid is known for aiding in blood clot formation, so it may even be better than gauze for this purpose.
You can use a tea bag in the same way you use gauze, but you want to be sure that the tea bag is warm. Put the tea bag in hot water for 2-3 minutes. Remove and wait until it's warm to the touch and bite and put pressure on the site for up to 30 minutes. You can repeat if necessary.
Black tea works best because of the high Tannin levels.
Ice Cube and Gauze Trick
Some patients find more success with stopping their bleeding if they cool their mouth’s temperature. One trick is to wrap ice cubes in gauze and place them on the extraction site.
You want to avoid sucking on the ice cube or biting it.
Instead, allow them to remain in the gauze and sit on the extraction site. You want to avoid placing the ice cube directly on the socket, which is why using gauze is the right choice when adding ice cubes to the process.
If you have an immediate flipper or partial denture, placing that in your mouth can stop bleeding as well.
Why is Clotting Important?
The first 24 hours of healing are very important for tooth extractions and will revolve around the blood clot. Since we’ve removed your tooth, it will leave an empty socket behind where your bone exists.
Blood will fill this hole and stop air from reaching the bone.
Allowing the clot to form and dry fills in the empty tooth socket and will protect your bone while the area heals. If you do not allow the clot to form or do something ill-advised, such as drinking through a straw or drinking a hot drink, you can dislodge the blood clot.
Once dislodged, you may suffer from what is known as a dry socket.
What are Dry Sockets?
Dry sockets occur when a blood clot never forms in the tooth socket or if the clot becomes dislodged. If there is one serious issue that you need to be concerned about after an extraction, it’s dry socket.
The lack of a clot leads to:
- Bone exposure
- Nerve exposure
The pain from dry socket is very intense. Most people will heal just fine and never experience this condition, but if you do, you’ll find that the pain may be unbearable. If a dry socket does form, we can place a medicated gauze in the socket to help ease your pain and promote healing.
However, it’s always best to promote a proper blood clot and promote pain-free healing.
Promoting Blood Clot Formation
If you’ve used gauze or a tea bag, you’re well on your way to forming a clot. We recommend that you remain very cautious of the site and avoid eating any food that may get caught in the socket.
The area must remain debris-free if you want the blood clot to form and healing to commence.
Air pressure differences, like what is caused when using a straw, will easily dislodge your clot. However, a few other things that you’ll want to do to reduce the risk of disrupting the clotting, include:
- Don’t use mouthwash or spit anything out of your mouth
- If you have to sneeze, be sure that you keep your mouth open
- Avoid blowing your nose
Any activity that can impact the air pressure in your mouth must be avoided during this time. Don’t worry in a week or so you’ll be back to normal and doing everything that you love. If you do get a dry socket, it will only prolong the healing process and cause you an immense amount of unnecessary pain that no one wants to deal with.
Smoking is a big no-no at this time.
You’ll want to avoid smoking for a minimum of 48 hours after an extraction. Smoking will only increase your risk of complications and is likely to promote bleeding.
You’ll also want to avoid drinking any alcohol at this time. While drinking or smoking may help you relax, the impact they have on the clotting process are too significant to risk. You can return to your normal routine in a few days.
For now, it’s best to focus on controlling the bleeding.
Control the Bleeding by Minimizing Certain Activities
Blood clots are reliant on proper blood flow, and you’ll want to avoid:
- Strenuous workouts
- Difficult work
If you engage in these activities, they will get your heart rate up and force excess blood into the area, which is not good. Allow yourself one to two days to be relaxed and not have to exercise. It’s best to wait two days to allow the clot to form and really settle before you engage in these activities.
Sleep is also going to be important.
You want to keep your head above your heart. Propping up your upper body will help you control bleeding by lowering your blood pressure. Even when you’re lying down just to relax, you should prop your upper body up to promote lower blood pressure.
Blood clot formation is the key most important part of healing from tooth extractions. However, the healing period will last up to 10 days. You may experience:
Slight pain and discomfort are normal, and they can be controlled with ice or medication from the dentist. In a day or two, you’ll notice that the pain turns to soreness, which isn’t comfortable but also isn’t unbearable.
You normally don’t need to be concerned about the pain and discomfort when it’s mild or even moderate.
However, if the pain becomes quite intense and reaches a pain level that doesn’t allow you to enjoy most of the activities that you do, you’ll want to call our office immediately.
Tooth extractions are an unfortunate consequence of allowing tooth decay to progress without seeking treatment. If we cannot perform a filling or root canal, the only option left to treat the tooth may be to remove it.
We’ll discuss your options in our office and even recommend replacement options for the tooth.
We can put bridges or implants in to restore your smile and prevent further teeth issues from arising. However, before we can even think about the cosmetic restoration, we want to be sure that the extraction site fully heals.