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Do I Eat With Gauze In Mouth After Extraction?

After an extraction, you should remove the gauze from your mouth prior to eating and you can replace it with a new one after your meal. This also applies wisdom teeth removal.


Biting on gauze
Biting on gauze

Remove gauze while eating

Prior to eating, you should take the gauze out of your mouth.


After you finish eating you can place a new piece of gauze back into your mouth. The old piece that you took out should be discarded in the waste bin because it is full of blood from the extraction.


Gauze
Gauze

Reasons to not eat with gauze:

  • Easier to eat. Keeping the gauze in your mouth makes it very difficult to chew. You're literally trying to do two opposing things at the same time. For the gauze you need to stay biting down while for chewing you need to constantly open and close.

  • More hygienic. If you eat with the gauze in the mouth, it will trap a lot of food in it by the end of the meal. If you bite back down into the gauze that is full of food, you'll be pushing the food into the extraction socket. That sounds like a recipe for food getting stuck in the extraction hole.

  • Tastes better. That gauze which you've been biting on for a while is most likely saturated with blood. Eating with it at the same time will not taste very good.


In summary, it is simply more practical to take the gauze out of your mouth from the tooth extraction before you eat. It really doesn't make a lot of sense to keep it in your mouth while you're trying to chew food.


With that being said, it does call into question why you're even asking this question to begin with. We answered because you asked but, it doesn't make a lot of sense as to why you're trying to eat when you still need to use gauze.


You're not ready to eat if you still need gauze

If you're still biting on gauze it means that the bleeding from the extraction has yet to stop. That probably means that you shouldn't be eating yet because you're not ready for it.


Why you're not ready to eat if you still need gauze:

  • Hemostasis takes priority. It also takes about 3 hours of biting on gauze before the socket stops bleeding. That is how long you should use gauze.

  • Anesthesia wears off at same time as when hemostasis is achieved. The local anesthesia lasts for about an additional 2-3 hours even after the extraction is completed. Although just as a disclaimer, some of our patients have been numb for even longer than that, 4-6 hours even!


Fresh extraction socket
Fresh extraction socket

Essentially, the timing for how long to bite on gauze and when the numbness wears away actually coincide. You should know better than to try eating while you're still numb from the anesthesia. There are detrimental side effects if you eat before the anesthesia wears off.


Consequences of eating while numb:

  • Bite your lip.

  • Bite your cheek.

  • Bite your tongue.

  • Can burn yourself from hot foods.


What we're trying to say is that if you're still using gauze, you're probably still numb. That means you're not permitted to eat yet.


You might as well wait for the numbness to wear off and to stop using gauze before you have a meal. It'll be more enjoyable as well since it won't taste like a black and blue steak from all that blood mixing into your food!


What to do with gauze while drinking

After your extraction, before drinking, you should take the gauze out of your mouth.


After you finish drinking you can place a new piece of gauze back into your mouth. The old piece that you took out should be discarded in the taste bin since it is dirty and already saturated with blood.


Reasons for taking out the gauze before drinking:

  • More hygienic. It is not a good idea to be drinking a smoothie, milk, or anything with sugar in it. All of that sugar will saturate the gauze. Essentially you'll be placing this sugar filled gauze next to your teeth and you may end up with cavities. It'll be cleaner and healthier if you don't use sugar saturated gauze.

  • Tastes better. The gauze that you've been biting on is most likely saturated with blood. If you drink with it in, you'll be tasting a lot of blood. That makes for a very untasty drink if you know what we mean.


The principles for drinking after an extraction are mostly the same as eating. Although you are permitted to drink on the side that is not numb. Just make sure whatever you're drinking is not too hot because you may burn the numb side.


When can I stop using gauze?

Officially you should stop using gauze after the extraction socket has stopped bleeding. On average that should take about three hours or so. Some people may require less time while others may take more time but 3 hours is the average.


As a reminder, you should be switching out to a new piece of gauze every 30 minutes. You repeat this process until the bleeding has completely stopped or it has a very light ooze.



There is no such thing as leaving the gauze in for too long but a new piece will be more effective! Using the same gauze will still work but it just won't be as effective.


Takeaway

If you need to eat or drink, you should remove the gauze from your mouth before doing so. It's not very practical to leave it in your mouth. In fact, it may even have adverse side effects if you do so.


Therefore you should take it out and then simply place a new one back in after you're done. That is the best way to approach this situation! Last but not least, you shouldn't forget the rest of the instructions for the tooth extraction aftercare. You know that you're also not supposed to sleep with the gauze right?

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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!

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