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When to Stop Using Gauze After a Tooth Extraction

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A woman sitting in a dentist’s chair and smiling while her dentist gently holds the sides of her face

A tooth extraction is a dental procedure that can come with a lot of questions. For example, how long does recovery take and how long do you have to use gauze after the procedure is complete? 

You should leave the gauze in your mouth after a tooth extraction for at least 20-30 minutes, and you should replace it with a new piece if you are still bleeding. During your recovery from tooth extraction, you’ll also want to consider what you’re eating and how you’re taking care of your teeth and gums.

There are certainly some good guidelines we can provide you to help support your healing and minimize complications. But you should ultimately follow the specific aftercare recommendations you receive during your visit, because each situation can be different.

Why Would You Need a Tooth Extraction?

A tooth extraction could be recommended by your dentist for any number of reasons such as excessive tooth decay, overcrowding, a break, crack, or fracture of the tooth that is unrestorable, wisdom teeth complications, or severe infections. Tooth extraction isn’t typically a dentist’s first line of treatment, but it could be necessary in some cases.

If you have an abscessed tooth or your teeth are so badly infected that there’s no other way to stop the infection from spreading, tooth extraction may be the only option for helping keep your smile healthy. 

Tooth Extraction Healing Tips

The following tips are general guidelines for taking care of your mouth after a tooth extraction. You should always follow your dentist’s personal instructions for oral care after a procedure like a wisdom tooth extraction because your oral health needs may vary. 

When to Stop Using Gauze

A general rule of thumb is to keep the gauze in place for 20-30 minutes with slight pressure after the extraction. You can often remove it at this point. But if you still experience bleeding after removing the gauze, you should apply another piece of gauze for an additional 30 minutes.

Keep in mind that the pressure you put on the surgical site should be firm, but not hard. Be careful not to chew on the gauze, which can both irritate the extraction area and cause it to bleed. 

Control the Swelling

After a tooth extraction, it’s common to experience swelling around the affected area. You can apply an ice pack to the outside of your cheek to help control swelling. A cold compress can also help in alleviating pain and prevent tissue from bruising. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth for 10–20 minutes at a time every couple of hours and repeat as necessary.

Manage Your Medications

You have to be careful with taking medications following a tooth extraction, depending on the type of tooth extraction and the medication used during the procedure. Ask your dentist before restarting any prescription medications or taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications.

Eat Soft Foods

We all need to eat, but it’s important to consider what you’re eating following a tooth extraction. To avoid delaying healing and help prevent complications, choose soft foods like mashed potatoes, applesauce, and room-temperature soup, which can be gentle on sensitive gums and teeth. 

You should also avoid using a straw for a couple of days to minimize the chances of dislodging the blood clot, which can delay healing and cause a painful condition known as a dry socket. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol during the healing process too.

Rest & Relax

An important tip for healing after tooth extraction is to give yourself enough time to rest and relax. Avoid intense physical activity for the first 48 hours to avoid aggravating the extraction area. You can return to regular daily activities when you feel ready, but it’s best to consult your dentist or oral surgeon about the appropriate time.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Even during tooth extraction recovery, you should not ignore your oral hygiene. While your mouth is still sensitive, you can rinse gently with warm salt water to encourage natural healing. As your recovery progresses, you can return to regular brushing and flossing.

When Can I Brush My Teeth After Wisdom Tooth Extraction?

There isn’t a hard-and-fast rule about when you can brush after a tooth extraction. As a general rule, you should wait at least 24 hours following the procedure. And even then, we may instruct you to avoid brushing or flossing in the back of your mouth near the extraction site for a day or 2.

Avoiding brushing and flossing for a few days helps prevent any disturbance of the healing tissue and helps keep bacteria away from the extraction site. We may provide you with an antiseptic mouthwash to help with healing and prevent bacterial infection during that time.

A woman in a dentist's office smiling and shaking hands with her dentist while a dental assistant is working in the background.

Discuss Your Tooth Extraction Concerns with Us

The thought of a tooth extraction can be intimidating for many people, especially if you’re someone who already deals with dental anxiety. But it’s important to remember that your dentist is a qualified professional who can prepare you with everything you need to know for a positive recovery experience.

Call us at Elevate Dental to book an appointment with one of our experienced, kind dentists. Our team is happy to do everything they can to give you a good experience and help you prepare for recovery. For example, don’t forget to stock up on soft foods and make sure you have ice packs ready. You’ll be back to smiling out loud before you know it.

Written by Dr. Krystal Hakkaart

Dr. Krystal Hakkaart is a General Dentist practicing in the North Okanagan Valley. She graduated from the University of Sydney in 2021 with unique training in Clinical Teaching and Leadership. Krystal moved back to Vernon (where she was born and raised) to share her passion and skill with her hometown. Krystal makes every effort to stay on top of current trends and developments in dentistry. Her commitment to continuing education empowers her to better serve her patients’ distinctive wants and needs. She is passionate about utilizing innovative technology and digital integration to offer the highest level of service, and deliver exceptional quality care wrapped in a gentle touch that results in an overall comfortable experience.

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