Female patient sitting in dental chair being prepped for tooth extraction

When to Stop Using Gauze After Tooth Extraction – Managing Bleeding

A sterile gauze is a useful tool following a tooth extraction. It not only protects the wound from further damage, but it also makes the hours following the procedure more comfortable.

It’s common for the extraction site to bleed and ooze other fluids following the procedure. Gauze collects these fluids and prevents them from leaking into your mouth.

But how long should you wear gauze after an extraction to help you manage bleeding? 

Here’s what you need to know.

When your dentist or oral surgeon completes the extraction procedure, they’ll insert sterile gauze into your mouth.

It’s placed over the empty tooth socket and needs changing every so often when you’re wearing it. How long you wear it is closely linked to how long you bleed from the surgical site after the procedure.

Bleeding after a tooth extraction or wisdom tooth extraction is normal. There’s an open wound left behind where you once had a tooth, and your body needs time to process the removal.

In most cases, bleeding only lasts about an hour or two. If your body has normal clotting and healing capabilities, it shouldn’t last longer than this.

Your dentist will advise you on what to expect and when to contact them following the procedure based on your specific circumstances.

They might recommend skipping certain medications, including blood thinners, or tell you that the length of time for clot formation will take a bit longer due to having to use these medications.

Dentist holding gauze in young girl's mouth

Follow your dentist’s recommendations and share any concerns before leaving the office after the oral surgery.

Most people will need to keep the gauze in place for several hours after surgery. Some dentists recommend wearing it until bedtime. Others suggest removing it to eat and then replacing it with fresh gauze.

As long as you’ve stopped bleeding and oozing other fluids, you can remove the gauze pad after at least one hour up to a few hours. If you notice you’re still bleeding or an unpleasant-tasting liquid oozes into your mouth when you remove the gauze, you’ll want to replace it with a fresh dressing.

The purpose of the gauze is to absorb the blood and to keep pressure on the wound. This is why your dentist will likely recommend biting on the gauze.

When you do remove the gauze, do so very gently. You don’t want to disturb any clotting that has developed over the wound. You’ll know you’re in good shape if the gauze is mostly saliva or just a pale shade of pink when you remove it.

If blood is obviously on the gauze, it means you need a bit more time with it. You’ll also want to apply more pressure when reinserting the gauze over the wound.

How Often Should I Change My Gauze?

It’s important to check and change the gauze your dentist placed in your mouth after tooth extraction and the additional gauze you insert into your mouth.

You’ll generally want to check on the dressing about once an hour. This lets you see how the healing process is progressing and whether or not you are still bleeding.

This is also an opportunity to freshen the gauze. Never return used gauze to your mouth. Your dentist will give you a supply of gauze to use following the procedure, and/or you can purchase a box of gauze from your local pharmacy.

You should wait at least an hour before changing the first gauze placed by the dentist. You don’t want to remove it too quickly or too often because it can affect the clotting of the wound.

Allowing the hole to form a blood clot as it should reduces your risk of infection and dry socket, which is a painful complication associated with tooth extraction.

Sometimes, your wound will no longer bleed but might ooze into your mouth. In these cases, you can remove the gauze pad to eat or drink and replace it afterward to avoid having an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

This oozing shouldn’t last more than a couple of days. If it worsens over time, instead of improving, you’ll want to contact your dentist because it could be a sign of an infection.

This is also an excellent time to point out that you should avoid anything except for soft foods in the days following the procedure. You’ll be limited to a mostly liquid diet for up to 24 hours unless you can chew on the opposite side of the extraction.

Once you reintroduce soft foods, you’ll want to opt for soft, easily chewable foods, including pudding, oatmeal, overcooked vegetables, and soup.

What If I Keep Bleeding?

Sometimes, bleeding continues for longer than it should. In most cases, this is mild bleeding and not a concern. However, it can be an annoyance and doesn’t taste great if it drips into your mouth.

The best way to stop bleeding is to apply pressure. This should be enough. However, if it’s not doing the trick, you can also speak to your dentist about applying a wet black tea bag to the surgical area. The tannic acid in the tea helps with clotting.

Asian man holding cheek with bloody gauze in his hand

When Should I Contact My Dentist?

Occasionally, you’ll experience complications after a tooth extraction. The best thing to do in these cases is contact your dentist. They’ll be able to tell you whether or not the issue is of great concern and give you tips on improving your situation.

The most common reasons for calls to the dentist are severe pain and excessive bleeding that doesn’t stop. If bleeding doesn’t stop by the day after surgery, you should call your dentist. The same is true if the bleeding stops and starts again. This means the clot has been dislodged, and you’ll need to avoid a dry socket and prevent infection.

In some cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection after an extraction.

If you’d like to know more about dealing with the aftermath of a tooth extraction, or you’re interested in discussing other dental procedures, including porcelain veneers, bridges, crowns, and root canals with a gentle touch, we can help. Call us now and book a consultation in Belleville or Trenton, ON.