Steps To Take After You Have A Tooth Pulled

Following a tooth extraction, it's normal for bleeding to occur. However, a blood clot needs to form in the empty tooth socket in order for the extraction site to heal. Without the presence of a blood clot for a few days afterward to protect the underlying nerves and bone, you risk severe pain and infection. That's why it's important to take steps during the first 24 hours after having a tooth pulled to control bleeding and keep from dislodging the blood clot that forms in the tooth socket.

  1. Avoid rigorous exercise or strenuous work activities that require bending over or heavy lifting. You should rest for the remainder of the day, but when you lie down, don't lie flat. Prop your head up with pillows so that it's positioned higher than your heart. This helps control bleeding by lowering the blood pressure in your head.

  2. Apply firm pressure to the empty tooth socket to stop bleeding. The bleeding will begin to stop as a blood clot forms.

    Fold a sterile piece of damp gauze into a square. Lay it over the area where the tooth was extracted. The American Dental Association recommends biting down on the gauze for about 30 to 45 minutes. Keep biting down and don't change the gauze sooner unless it soaks through with blood. A sign that the gauze pad may not be thick enough and isn't allowing you to apply enough pressure to the area is if your top and bottom teeth touch together.

  3. Bite down on a tea bag moistened with water to help stop the bleeding if you don't have gauze or the bleeding continues. The tannic acid in black tea helps blood to clot. If bleeding remains heavy, call your dentist. Otherwise, change to a clean piece of gauze or a new teabag after about 45 minutes.

  4. Don't drink liquid soups or hot beverages, such as coffee or tea, as these can dissolve the blood clot. The clot will slowly dissolve on its own as the site heals.

  5. Avoid smoking or drinking through a straw. Either creates suction that can dislodge the clot in the tooth socket. Rinsing your mouth or spitting can do the same.

    Smoking can also cause dry socket -- a complication that sometimes occurs following a tooth extraction. Since more carbon monoxide enters your bloodstream when you smoke, less oxygen gets to the extraction site, which slows the healing of gum tissue. The nicotine in cigarette tobacco also causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels), increasing blood pressure and reducing blood flow to the tissues.

  6. Blowing your nose or sneezing can dislodge the clot, especially if you've had an upper molar or bicuspid pulled. If you can't suppress a sneeze, sneeze with your mouth open. It may seem odd, but sneezing with your mouth closed can change the air pressure inside your mouth and interfere with the healing process.

  7. Don't brush the teeth surrounding where you had the tooth pulled for a few days. The action could dislodge the clot. Use clean, wet gauze pads to wipe the area instead.

Talk with a local dentist, like William J Guthrie DDS PC, if you have any concerns.