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When to Stop Using Gauze After a Tooth Extraction

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a woman sits in a dental chair holding her face with tooth pain. a dentist is preparing to examine her mouth

A tooth extraction is typically the last resort for dental care, but it’s an essential procedure. Removing a decaying tooth can prevent infection from spreading to surrounding teeth and gums. And if you’re going to go through the process, it’s worth spending some extra time making sure the aftercare is effective.

After dental surgery, your dentist will commonly advise you to use gauze. 

Gauze can control bleeding and promote healing, but you should watch for how much you’re bleeding after a tooth extraction to know when to stop using gauze.

Regular cleanings are just one way to protect your oral health. Ensuring you continue high-quality care at home is one of the best ways to keep your smile vibrant.

Why Do Dentists Use Gauze?

A gauze pad is a soft, absorbent material crucial after dental procedures to manage bleeding and promote healing. Typically, your dentist will take the extra time to ensure you aren’t actively bleeding after surgery.

But the extraction site is still a wound, and you’ll need pressure to stop a wound from bleeding. Biting down on a gauze pad allows you to put pressure on the wound, pinching the blood vessels and allowing clotting to start.

Secondly, gauze is absorbent. Since helpful and harmful bacteria can live in our mouths, gauze may protect the extraction site from infection. Also, even if you’re not bleeding much after surgery, your blood can mix with your saliva. This mixing can make it hard to tell how much you’re bleeding. The gauze absorbs blood and saliva, allowing you to see when to stop using it.

Using Gauze After a Tooth Extraction

We advise patients to keep gauze in place for 15-30 minutes. You should bite down firmly during this time to allow your blood to clot. The bleeding may stop, and we can remove the gauze so you can continue healing at home.

Signs to Stop Using Gauze

You should replace your gauze pad every 30–60 minutes at home. Ensure the gauze pad is lightly wetted and folded thick when you place it over the extraction site, and check it for blood when you’re changing it out. If you run out of gauze, you can also use a damp tea bag as long as you bite down gently yet firmly.

You’ll know when to stop using gauze when you can’t see any blood on the gauze you’re replacing. It’s important to follow the post-operative care provided by your dental team.

Signs to Keep Gauze On

Check your gauze pad for blood 1 hour after surgery. If you’re still bleeding, replace the gauze and bite down with firm pressure. Repeat this process until the site isn’t bleeding anymore. However, if it’s been 4 hours and you’re still bleeding a lot, call your dentist.

It’s possible for the blood clot at the extraction site to dislodge or break apart. If this happens, it may expose underlying bone and nerves, leading to a condition known as dry socket

Symptoms of a dry socket include severe pain, bad breath, or a foul taste. Contact your dentist immediately if you notice any of these signs.

Young woman eating a yogurt to help her recover from the tooth extraction.

Aftercare Tips for a Tooth Extraction

Pressure on the extraction site is vital to promote clotting. However, using gauze for too long can prevent clotting. You should watch for signs to stop using gauze, or you could develop complications such as dry socket, infection, or gum pain.

Take it easy for a few days after surgery. An elevated heart rate can increase blood flow and bleeding at the extraction site. So you should take a break from the gym for 48–72 hours.

Your extraction site will likely be tender for the first few days. You can make eating more manageable by focusing on a soft diet. Eat yogurt, applesauce, or well-cooked pasta — pretty much anything you won’t need to chew.

Once you finish with your gauze, you can switch to other healing and pain management methods. First, clean the extraction site by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water 4–5 times daily. If you’re experiencing swelling or discomfort, apply a cold compress to your cheek first. After 24 hours, you can switch to a warm compress.

Solutions for Tooth Discomfort

A tooth extraction should be the beginning of the end of your tooth discomfort. Heritage Pointe Dental can assess your oral health and send you home with advice for a smooth recovery.

If you have questions about aftercare for tooth extractions, contact our knowledgeable team in Heritage Pointe.

Written by Dr. Michael Trac

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