SEVERE Bleeding After Wisdom Tooth Removal: What to do

Updated: Oct 14

Wisdom tooth removal is a surgical procedure and a consequence of it is post operative bleeding but how much bleeding is normal? For how long should it bleed and how do you stop the bleeding? Our long island city dentists will provide you with all of the information that you need in regards to bleeding after wisdom tooth extraction.


x ray of wisdom teeth

How to stop wisdom teeth bleeding

Pressure will universally help stop all forms of bleeding including wisdom teeth bleeding after an extraction. Applying direct pressure to the socket will prevent blood from coming out by rerouting it to another direction. It will also provide time for your body send blood clotting factors to the wound so that they can start their anti-coagulating activities. As long as you apply enough pressure for a sufficient duration of time, you will achieve hemostasis eventually.


Stopping wisdom teeth bleeding with gauze

The most common way to stop wisdom teeth bleeding is by applying pressure with a 2x2 gauze. Your dentist will usually give you enough gauze to take home to last you through the night. This is how you use gauze to stop the bleeding.

  1. Fold two pieces of 2x2 gauze in half, two times until it forms a square.

  2. Place gauze over extraction socket.

  3. Bite down on gauze with firm pressure for 30 minutes.

  4. Repeat steps 1-3 every 30 minutes until it stops bleeding.


gauze

How to stop severe wisdom teeth with a black tea bag

If you're having severe bleeding from the wisdom tooth extraction, applying pressure with the gauze may not be enough to stop the bleeding. For severe bleeding, you should apply pressure with a black tea bag instead of the gauze.

  1. Remove black tea bag from pouch and wet it.

  2. Place black tea bag over extraction socket.

  3. Bite down on tea bag with firm pressure for 30 minutes.

  4. Repeat steps 1-3 every 30 minutes until the bleeding stops.


Why do black tea bags help stop bleeding?

Black tea bags contain tannins, which accelerate blood clotting by contraction of damaged tissues and capillaries via an astringent effect. In a study that compared green tea extract vs a control group, they found that the tea group had a significantly lower duration of bleeding. The reason was due to the presence of tannins within the green tea.


Our LIC dentists are recommending black tea because they are known to have a greater amount of tannins when compared to green tea. Green tea bags will work to stop wisdom teeth bleeding but black tea bags are more effective.



When does bleeding stop after wisdom teeth removal

On average, it takes about 2-3 hours after applying firm pressure to the extraction site before it stops bleeding. Some people may stop bleeding quicker while others may take longer but it depends on the individual's health history and whether or not they have a blood clotting disorder. Patients who are taking blood thinners such as aspirins will experience a longer duration of bleeding.


After 2-3 hours of applying firm pressure to the wound, the bleeding should either completely stop or slow down significantly. It is not unusual for you to still experience a little bit of blood oozing even 3-4 days after wisdom teeth removal since the wound takes 4-8 weeks for it to completely heal. In rare cases, you may even experience a tiny bit of blood a week after the procedure. It is completely normal as long as the amount of blood that you are seeing after 7 days is significantly less than the first day of the procedure.


What our dentists in long island city are looking for is a trend towards improvement. As long as it seems like it is getting better, then we're not concerned and you shouldn't be alarmed either. In case you were worried, severe bleeding is not an indication that your jaw was broken from taking out the wisdom tooth.



Why does it bleed after wisdom teeth removal?

Your wisdom tooth is connected to your body through blood vessels that supply it with nutrients and if you remove the tooth, the disconnected vessels will bleed. A disconnected blood vessel is an open system where blood is able to bleed out. In order to stop the bleeding, you will have to apply pressure to the wound and wait for the blood clot to close off the blood vessel and turn it back into a closed system.


How much bleeding is normal?

The amount of bleeding after having the wisdom teeth removed will vary depending on the individual but for the vast majority it will be a slow steady rate of oozing blood. The quantity of bleeding after the procedure is usually not of concern to your dentist because of two reasons.

  • Bleeding is of venous origins. Before we send you home after the extraction, we make sure that the bleeding is of venous origins and not of arterial origins. What this means is that, the blood is coming from a vein and not an artery. Bleeding from a vein looks like a slow steady oozing of blood but bleeding from an artery looks like high pressure squirting of blood. This is an important distinction because only arterial bleeds are life threatening.

  • Trend towards less bleeding over time. As long as your bleeding is less over time and it looks like you are bleeding less compared to the hour before, you should be safe. This shows that your condition is improving and that is indicative that you are on the road to recovery. The only time you should be concerned is if the bleeding is not slowing down at all and if that is the case, you should contact your dentist immediately.


How does the bleeding stop?

The only way for the bleeding to stop after a wisdom tooth removal is to wait for the blood clot to form and that takes time because the clotting factors have to travel to the site of the wound. The blood clot will stop the bleeding with three steps, constricting the blood vessel, form a platelet plug, and form a blood clot.

  1. Constricting the blood vessel. Your body will first constrict the blood vessel to decrease the amount of bleeding. This provides time for your clotting factors to travel to the site of bleeding.

  2. Form a platelet plug. The platelets arrive to the wound first and stick together to form a temporary plug to prevent the blood from bleeding out.

  3. Form a blood clot. Finally, the fibrin threads will reinforce the platelet plug by acting as molecular glue to stabilize and hold the blood clot together.


How do you prevent the bleeding from getting worse?

Applying pressure by biting down on gauze or a black tea bag will eventually stop the bleeding but there are three things that you shouldn't do because they can make the bleeding worse. If you want to prevent the bleeding from getting worse, avoid these three behaviors.

  • Spitting. Vigorous spitting creates suction and pressure in the mouth that can dislodge the unstable blood clot. If the clot comes out, it will continue to bleed so do not spit within the first 24 hours. If you need to expel blood, just let it dribble out slowly without any force.

  • Rinsing. Vigorous rinsing will also create suction and pressure in the mouth, which can disturb the blood clot. Please refrain from rinsing within the first 24 hours to not disturb the clot. Once the time period passes, you should start rinsing with salt water after every meal to prevent food getting stuck in the wisdom tooth hole.

  • Drinking through a straw. Drinking with a straw creates a tremendous amount of suction and pressure in your mouth, which will dislodge the blood clot. Avoid drinking through a straw for the first 24 hours so that the clot can stabilize. The consequence of using a straw will cause persistent bleeding but it will not cause a dry socket, which is a commonly held misconception.

The common theme among all three actions which exacerbate bleeding after tooth removal is that they create suction and pressure in the mouth. Therefore, in order to prevent the bleeding from getting worse, you should avoid all activities that create suction or pressure in the mouth within the first 24 hours of having the wisdom tooth removed.



When to seek professional help

There are two situations after wisdom tooth removal where you should seek medical help immediately, is when the bleeding does not slow down or the bleeding starts to squirt at a high pressure.

  • Bleeding not slowing down. If the rate of bleeding has not slowed by the next day then you should contact your dentist immediately because that is not a trend towards improvement. As long as the bleeding is less the next day, you should be safe.

  • Bleeding starts to squirt. If the bleeding is oozing blood slowly you should be ok but if it changes to a high pressure squirting, you should contact your dentist immediately. The squirting indicates that it is bleeding from an artery and that can be life threatening. The arterial bleeding needs to be stopped immediately.

Aside from these two situations, you just need to give the body time to heal. The bleeding should mostly stop after 24 hours but the wisdom tooth hole will take about 4-8 weeks for it to completely close.


During the time that it takes the hole to close, you may notice occasional mild bleeding after brushing your teeth but that is normal. Keep brushing and flossing even if you see blood because we don't want you to end up with cavities. Although you should brush more gently near the extraction sites for the first few days since it might be tender.



Takeaway

Bleeding after wisdom tooth removal is a normal consequence and you can help it stop bleeding faster by biting on gauze or a black tea bag. You should also avoid rinsing, spitting, and drinking through a straw so that it does not make the bleeding worse.


If you follow these instructions closely, the bleeding should slow down gradually with each passing day. Just so that you don't forget, the day after when the bleeding should've stopped you are clear to start using a mouthwash after meals. In fact you should rinse vigorously so that food doesn't get stuck in the wisdom tooth hole. This is of course after the bleeding has subsided which is a day or two afterwards.


If you have any further questions you can always schedule a consultation with one of our dentists in long island city. We do not do virtual consultations so if you live far away, you should contact your dentist or a local one. This is a condition that needs to be addressed IN PERSON.



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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!