When to stop using gauze after tooth extraction
When to stop using gauze after tooth extraction?
One of the most common after-effects of having a tooth pulled is ongoing bleeding from the surgical site. A simple way to control the bleeding is to use a gauze pack to apply pressure to the wound. However, how does a patient know when it is safe to stop using gauze after a tooth extraction?
Replace gauze every 15 minutes until the bleeding has ceased. You will know that the blood clot has successfully sealed the extraction socket when there is only a light pink dot left of the gauze. At this point you can stop using the gauze pads.
In this article we discuss –
- How to use gauze
- What is the best type of gauze to use
- When to change the gauze
- When to stop using gauze
The human body has a natural defensive mechanism to stop bleeding called hemostasis. This hemostatic response starts seconds after the tooth is pulled out and acts to prevent excessive bleeding by effectively plugging the hole with a blood clot.
When we use gauze to pack the tooth socket, we are helping this process by blocking blood flow and encouraging the clot to form quicker. Having a healthy blot clot secure in the tooth socket is an important stage in the tooth extraction healing process.
The best type of gauze for tooth extraction
The gauze you receive from your dentist may come in a little sterilized Ziploc bag. Dental offices purchase gauze in very large quantities, so they will not come individually wrapped like the packet I used in the demonstration video.
When it comes to the actual type of gauze that you use, you need to use either what you are given from your surgeon or dentist, or sterile gauze pads that you have purchased yourself.
Gauze pads are available in different sizes, but for the purposes of the video, I used 2 inches by 2 inches individually wrapped sterile pads by Dealmed. These types of gauze wound care products are readily available at all drug stores and online vendors.
How to fold gauze to stop tooth extraction bleeding
After your tooth extraction, your dentist or oral surgeon will send you home with very clear post-operative instructions and some gauze. You can also buy gauze at any drug store or online seller.
It can be a good idea to purchase gauze sheets before your tooth extraction procedure so you have extra at home if you need them.
Depending on the thickness of the gauze sheets you have, you usually are going to want more than one gauze sheet to create your pad. Generally, you’re going to take one to two sheets.
You will line them up, fold them into half, and then into a quarter to create a little pad.
In the video, I used a model with an extracted lower right molar to demonstrate how to place the gauze in position. and so then you’ll just take the gauze, put it into the socket where it’s folded up, and then you want to bite down so that you’re applying pressure. It can be helpful to use a mirror
STEP ONE – Folding the gauze
Take two sheets of sterile gauze. Fold them in half and then fold them again into a quarter. This creates a pad that is thick enough to block the extraction socket.
STEP TWO – Placing gauze in position
Lightly moisten the gauze pad. Place the gauze pad in position. A mirror can help you insert the gauze into the exact position without unduly disturbing the wound. Note – WHAT TO DO IF TOOTH EXTRACTION CLOT STICKS TO GAUZE
STEP THREE – Biting down
Bite down firmly on the gauze bite pack for approximately 15 minutes.
STAGE FOUR – Remove the gauze
Remove the gauze after 15 minutes and evaluate the appearance to see how much blood is on the pack. If there is much blood displayed on the gauze, repeat the procedure. Once the gauze shows only a red or pink dot on the contact spot, you can stop the process.
How often should you change gauze after tooth extraction?
After your tooth extraction, it is a good idea to set a timer alarm for 15-minute intervals you need to do this for the first one to 2 hours and you should plan to set a timer so that you can take it out and change it about every 15 minutes.
As you’re putting pressure on there, that’s going to just help to encourage clotting, stop the bleeding in the socket.
You need to do other things to help stop the bleeding, like remain quiet, not be up and about doing a bunch of activities controlling your blood pressure. All kinds of things go into how much it will bleed. But as you’re biting and putting pressure on this, that will help it to stop.
We change the gauze about every 15 minutes to get a fresh piece so that we can see if we are being effective. So when you take this out, you want to evaluate it before you throw it in the trash. When they’re actively bleeding, this whole package will be bright red with blood.
When to stop using gauze after tooth extraction?
If you change out the gauze at 15-minute intervals, you should see the deposit of blood on the pad decrease each time. Eventually, most of the gauze will remain white with just a small red dot directly on the extraction site.
Evaluating the color of the gauze is the best way to determine if the blood clot has securely plugged the extraction site and stopped the bleeding.
When you can see that there is very little blood accumulation, then you can safely stop using gauze.
Dr. Lara Coseo
Having practiced general dentistry for 13 years, I currently serve as a Professor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry.