If you have recently had a tooth extraction, it is important to look for blood clots. Blood clots can be dangerous if they travel to other parts of your body, but in the case of tooth extraction, a blood clot is needed to help heal the affected area.
What is a blood clot?
A blood clot is a mass of blood that has coagulated or thickened. When blood clots form inside vessels, they can block blood flow to other parts of the body. This can be dangerous if the clot travels to another part of the body and blocks blood flow. When it comes to having a tooth extracted, you want your blood to clot in the empty socket where your tooth once was. For example, if you have your wisdom teeth removed, you want to see that the open space is healing in the form of a blood clot.
Why does a blood clot occur after a tooth extraction?
There are a few reasons why blood clots can occur after tooth extraction. One reason is that when the tooth is pulled, the blood vessels in the area are disrupted. This can cause blood to clot and form a plug in the vessel. Another reason for blood clotting after tooth extractions is the nature of dental procedures themselves. Any time you have a medical procedure, blood clotting is a risk. This is because the body goes into shock when under stress, and a blood clot forms as part of the healing process.
What does a blood clot look like post tooth extraction?
Blood clots can vary in size and shape. They may be large or small, round or irregular in shape. Blood clots will often be darker in color than the surrounding tissue. They may also look swollen or inflamed.
How long can a blood clot last, and how long does it take the tooth extraction to clot?
Typically a proper blood clot should form within 24 hours of the tooth extraction. The tooth extraction site will be tender and can be painful. A blood clot can last as long as it takes for the area to heal. Typically they are gone when stitches are removed seven to ten days post tooth extraction.
What are dry sockets?
A dry socket is a condition where bone and nerves are exposed after tooth extraction. The empty tooth socket, or dry socket, can cause intense pain. A dry socket can occur if the blood clot dislodges prematurely, leaving the unhealed area open. A dry socket should be treated promptly to prevent that area from not healing correctly or getting infected.
Wisdom tooth removal is the most common extraction where a dry socket can occur. Swelling can be an indication of a lost blood clot. Be sure to talk to your doctor after oral surgery if you feel like you may have a developing dry socket.
How can I care for a blood clot after a tooth extraction?
Your oral surgeon will most like give you a list of after-care instructions to keep your blood clot from dislodging early and care for your oral health. Here is a list of simple actions you can take after tooth extraction.
Apply Constant Pressure to the Extraction Site
After the extraction, your dentist will have you bite down on a gauze pad to help control the bleeding. A blood clot will form once the area has stopped bleeding. Bite down as instructed and keep the gauze pad on the extracted area for about 30 to 45 minutes. If you can’t control bleeding, change out the gauze and apply pressure gently for another two hours or so.
Contact your dentist immediately if you can’t get your extraction area to stop bleeding.
Don’t participate in any vigorous activities for at least 48 hours, and do your best to minimize activities on the first day of your dental surgery. Also, be sure to avoid any activities that make your head fall below your heart, such as some yoga poses. No downward-facing dog for a few days!
Help the Clot Form
To help with clot formation, you should avoid any activities that cause a suction or vacuum effect in your mouth. Try to avoid doing the following:
- Using a straw
- Avoid tobacco use for at least a week (there’s no better time to quit!)
- Avoid vigorous rinsing
- Avoid brushing your teeth for at least 72 hours and rinse gently with saltwater
- Avoid chewing
Treat Severe Pain and Swelling with Pain Medication
After your tooth extraction, you will feel some pain and discomfort. For pain management, your dentist may prescribe pain medications. You can also try over-the-counter medications to help relieve minor discomforts. Apply an ice pack to help reduce swelling within the first 24 hours of extraction (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off method).
Eat Soft Foods
Avoid chewing at all costs. Choose liquids and soft foods as long as your dentist has instructed. Soft foods can include yogurt, soups, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, or ice cream. As swelling decreases, you can add softer foods such as cooked pasta. Be sure to ask your dentist or oral surgeon if you have any concerns.
The blood clot is a way of your body healing the affected area after tooth extraction. It’s important that the clot stays until the area has completely healed, so be sure to rest and take care of it for at least a few days post-extraction. If you have any questions or concerns about an extraction, contact us today! We’re happy to answer all your questions and help guide you through this process with as little pain as possible. Want more information on extractions? Contact Bergen Periodontics and Implant Dentistry today!