Accidentally spitting after wisdom teeth removal can potentially dislodge the blood clot from the socket which results in continued bleeding. Although sometimes you can get lucky and it doesn't resume bleeding, meaning nothing happened.
Worry not, we're here to guide you through this crisis from your accidental blunder.
Consequences of spitting after tooth extraction
If you accidentally spit after an extraction, either one of two things can happen.
Bleeding worsens. Immediately after spitting, the tooth socket starts oozing out blood because you just dislodged the blood clot.
Nothing happens. Surprisingly, absolutely nothing happened after expectorating. You were waiting for something to occur but nothing happened.
Expectorating may increase risk of bleeding
Spitting too soon after the surgical extraction of a tooth may lead to more bleeding. The pressure that is created from vigorous expectorating or discharging spit can potentially dislodge the blood clot which is forming.
During the first few hours after the procedure, the clot that develops is unstable. It is usually not until the next day or 24 hours later that the it stabilizes enough to withstand spitting pressure.
If you expectorate before the blood clot has stabilized, it will come out and that is when you resume bleeding again. However that is usually not a problem if it has been given enough time to stabilize. For this reason, we recommend abstaining from spitting until the next day.
The clotting process (hemostasis) requires many hours:
Blood vessel constriction. Within 30 minutes of an extraction, vascular spasms ensue which leads to vasoconstriction thus less bleeding.
Platelet plug formation. The platelets arrive and adhere to one another. They form a temporary platelet plug that can stop the bleeding but is not very stable.
Activate coagulation cascade. The cascade leads to activation of platelets which strengthens them.
Fibrin clot formation. The final step of the coagulation cascade leads to fibrin deposition. The blood clot stabilization happens during this stage.
Can it cause a dry socket?
Contrary to popular belief, spitting after an extraction does not lead to a dry socket (alveolar osteitis).
Although it is unknown as to what causes a dry socket, but what we do know is that it is a biological process and not a mechanical one. That means physically dislodging the blood clot will not lead to the condition.
Why spitting did not make the bleeding worse
Sometimes you can get lucky and spitting did not make the bleeding worse.Perhaps the blood clot has stabilized just enough to withstand the spitting pressure.
Alternatively, maybe you only spit lightly so the pressure wasn't enough to dislodge the clot. Consider yourself lucky that the worst case scenario did not happen.
How to deal with accidentally spitting
What you should do afterwards to correct your mistake would depend on what happened. Is the wisdom tooth hole bleeding or is it not bleeding? We've created a decision tree diagram to help you decide your next course of action.
If the socket is bleeding, you must bite on gauze again.
Take two pieces of gauze.
Fold them in half twice.
Place gauze over extraction socket.
Bite down with firm pressure.
Remove after 30 minutes.
Repeat steps #1-5 until it stops bleeding.
If you've run out of gauze, you can use a wet black tea bag as a substitute. The tannins in it have hemostatic properties which actually makes it more effective for stopping the bleeding.
Wet the black tea bag.
Place it over extraction site.
Bite with firm pressure.
Switch out to a new one every 30 minutes.
It's not bleeding
If the socket isn't bleeding then consider yourself lucky because you don't have to do anything. Just make sure that you don't do it again please. It may not turn out as favorably the next time you expectorate.
As a reminder, you're also not supposed to rinse, drink through a straw, smoke, or french kiss. All of those three create the same effect as spitting. They generate a lot of intraoral pressure that can potentially dislodge the unstable blood clot.
When is it safe to spit?
It is safe to resume spitting the next day or 24 hours after the wisdom tooth extraction. By that time the blood clot should've stabilized enough to withstand the pressure of forcibly expelling saliva from your mouth.
In fact, once you're able to spit again, you should try to rinse with salt water as vigorously and frequently as possible.
Benefits of saline rinsing:
Prevents food from getting stuck in the wisdom tooth hole.
Keeps the area clean of food, debris, and bacteria.
Decreases chances for dry socket
If you accidentally spit after your wisdom teeth extraction, you can potentially dislodge the blood clot which will cause it to resume bleeding. Although if you are lucky, nothing would have happened and in that case, you don't need to do anything.