When to Stop Using Gauze After a Tooth Extraction

When to Stop Using Gauze After a Tooth Extraction
Author: Espire Dental Posted: July 11th, 2023 Category:

You don’t need to leave the gauze pad on for too long. But it’s important that you keep it there. Learn why.

Your dentist will make every effort to save your tooth so you can avoid an extraction. Unfortunately, for severely decayed or damaged teeth, tooth extraction is the best option to improve your oral health. But don’t worry! Getting a tooth pulled is a standard and nearly painless procedure.

However, you can expect a recovery period of about two weeks. A critical aspect of your recovery is keeping a gauze pad on the site for one to four hours to stop the bleeding. Read on to learn why you need to use a gauze pad and for how long.

Why a tooth must be extracted and what the procedure is like

First, let’s talk about why you might need a tooth pulled. The most common reason is severe tooth decay that cannot be remedied with a filling or root canal. The other is advanced gum disease which has damaged the gum and bone tissue to the point where the tooth becomes loose and will likely fall out. One study found that most tooth extractions were performed due to caries and gum disease. A tooth may also be pulled to relieve overcrowding or because the tooth has been severely broken because of an injury. 

Whatever the cause, a tooth extraction will not cause you much pain. You’ll be given local anesthesia. You may need general anesthesia if the extraction involves impacted molars or more than one tooth. 

Your dentist starts the extraction process by using a device to loosen the tooth by moving it back and forth. Then, dental forceps remove the tooth, and you can go home and begin your recovery.

Leaving the gauze on and other recovery tips

Generally speaking, a full recovery from a tooth extraction takes about seven to 10 days. But during the first few hours after the procedure, you’ll need to take special care of the gauze pad on the extraction site.

The gauze pad is there to stop the bleeding and help a blood clot form where the tooth once was. The clot protects the bone and nerves from infection. Without a clot, you may experience a painful dry socket, slowing your recovery.

Keep the gauze pad on at least an hour after the extraction, and bite down gently to apply pressure. You can change the gauze if you notice it’s soaked with blood. If the pad appears tinged with pink, the bleeding is tapering off, and you won’t need the gauze much longer. 

You can also speed up the healing process by following these tips:

Eat soft foods. Eat soft foods such as pudding, yogurt, applesauce, and soups for a few days. You can have smoothies, but don’t drink through a straw. The sucking action can dislodge the blood clot over the extraction site. Spitting or rinsing your mouth right after the procedure can have the same effect. As you heal, you can gradually add more foods to your diet.

Rinse with salt water. Don’t brush immediately after the extraction. Wait about 24 hours before rinsing your mouth with a mixture of warm water and salt. When you start to brush again, be careful to avoid the extraction area.

Rest for a day. Take a day or two to rest and limit strenuous activities.

Apply a cold compress. To reduce swelling, apply an ice bag to your face for about 10 minutes at a time.

Take pain reducers. You can take over-the-counter pain medications or be given a prescription from your dentist.

Don’t smoke. Puffing on a cigarette can displace the clot. Plus, tobacco slows your natural healing powers.

Prop up your head on a pillow. When you sleep, prop your head on a pillow to promote healing.

Contact your dentist if you experience unusual symptoms, such as excessive bleeding or fever. But chances are, your recovery will be uneventful. Once fully healed, your missing tooth can be replaced with an implant, bridge, or denture, and it will be like you never had an extraction!

Getting a tooth extracted? See an Espire dentist

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s La Mesa location today! Our highly trained dentists can extract your tooth and make it as painless as possible. Don’t live near our La Mesa, CA, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

La Mesa, CA
8555 Fletcher Pkwy. 
Suite 102 
La Mesa, CA 91942