We understand. Talking about a blood clot after tooth extraction can be pretty icky. But you have lots of questions, and we have lots of answers, so let’s get down to it.
What is a blood clot after tooth extraction?
A blood clot after tooth extraction is your body’s way of beginning the healing process. All wounds clot, but a tooth extraction blood clot is a little different. This type of blood clot not only signals the start of the healing process, but it also protects the hole in the gum from bacteria carried by air and food.
Blood clots are made of platelets and blood cells (white and red). Embedded in a gel, these substances attract other cells that produce chemicals that begin to rebuild gum tissue starting in as little as 12 hours after extraction.
What does blood clot after tooth extraction look like?
Well, it looks pretty much like what you might imagine, only wetter. A blood clot after tooth extraction resembles a wet red scab that slowly gets smaller as you heal.
You can see more blood clot after tooth extraction pictures at different stages of healing here. The following photo is a from a patient an hour after surgery.
How long does it take for a tooth extraction to clot?
Your extraction site will begin to clot in the first day after your tooth extraction.
Within 24 hours after extraction, the bleeding will stop and a clot will begin to form.
How long does a blood clot last after tooth extraction?
A blood clot lasts as long as it takes for the gum tissue to close completely around the wound.
You may still feel an indentation in the gum, but the wound will essentially be healed. In general, stitches can be removed within seven to ten days of the extraction, at which point your tooth extraction blood clot should be gone.
What happens if blood clot comes out after tooth extraction?
If your blood clot comes out after tooth extraction, you may feel pain due to dry sockets. Dry sockets is a dental condition that occurs when the nerves and bone are exposed after tooth extraction.
When a blood clot becomes dislodged prematurely, gums may become painful and swollen. Additionally, food can become wedged into the extraction site, causing not only pain there but also pain that radiates into the face. If left untreated, the open socket may not heal properly or may become infected.
Dry sockets is the most common complication of tooth extraction, especially in the case of wisdom tooth extraction. Always talk to your dentist if you experience this.
How will I know if my blood clot fell out?
If you develop dry sockets, the pain will let you know that your wound is no longer protected.
Swelling is also an indication you have lost your blood clot, as is the taste of blood in your mouth.
What should I do if my tooth extraction blood clot fell out?
Yes. Get in touch with your dentist immediately and schedule a check-up.
If the pain is severe, you may need to visit an emergency dentist for treatment.
How can I protect a blood clot after tooth extraction?
The best way to protect a blood clot after tooth extraction is to follow all of your dentist’s instruction for recovery.
In general, the following guidelines are a good place to start.
Keep pressure on the extraction site
Your dentist will have you bite down on gauze to help stop the bleeding. A clot cannot form until the bleeding has stopped, so bite down as directed, usually for about 30 to 45 minutes after the extraction.
If the bleeding hasn’t stopped, change the gauze pad and apply gentle pressure for another two hours.
Take it easy
On the day of your extraction, plan to take it easy. No vigorous activity, and certainly nothing that moves your head below your heart (no downward-facing dogs, yogis!).
Even if you are in robust good health and your tooth extraction is routine, you do not know how your body will respond. Take the rest of the day off, and plan to limit vigorous activity for at least 48 hours.
Help your clot to form
Once the bleeding stops and you have committed to a day of leisure, the real work begins. Time to help your body form a clot. The best way to do this is to avoid any action that creates a vacuum or a sucking sensation in the mouth. Here’s how to do that.
- Don’t spit
- Don’t use a straw
- Don’t smoke for at least seven days (or take this opportunity to quit altogether)
- Don’t swish liquid or saliva in the mouth vigorously for 72 hours
- Don’t brush teeth for 72 hours (rinse gently with salt water instead)
- Don’t chew on the extraction site
Treat pain and swelling
Pain and swelling is normal, especially in the case of impacted wisdom teeth. Treat swelling by applying an ice pack 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off for the first 24 hours (when you are awake). If your dentist has prescribed pain medication, take it as directed, especially the first dose when the anesthetic from the surgery has not quite worn off. After your prescription is finished, you can take ibuprofen as directed, but avoid aspirin or other blood-thinning medications (as directed).
Maintain a diet of soft foods
As swelling reaches its peak on the second day after your extraction, the last thing you may want to do is chew. Stick to a diet of soft foods, and avoid chewing anything on or near the extraction site. Soups, yogurt, applesauce, polenta, mashed potatoes or beans, and ice cream are all nourishing options. As the swelling subsides, you can begin to add more foods, including soft pastas and well-cooked vegetables.
The most important thing to remember is to follow your dentist’s instructions and to take it easy in the days following your tooth extraction. Two days of strict rest can go a long way to properly developing a blood clot after tooth extraction. Developing a proper blood clot after tooth extraction may be a challenging topic, but it’s good to know what to expect.
If you have more questions about blood clot after tooth extraction or need to schedule an appointment to discuss your options, get in touch today.