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How To Fold Gauze For Wisdom Teeth

Learning how to fold gauze for wisdom teeth is a simple but incredibly effective way to achieve hemostasis from the extraction socket. Using gauze is the gold standard to stopping wisdom teeth bleeding after its removal.


2x2 gauze
2x2 gauze

However, if the wisdom teeth bleeding is not stopping there may be an error with your gauze folding technique. Thus, we will review some common mistakes which we see with our patients in how they use folded gauze.


Table of contents:


Folding gauze for wisdom teeth

Everyone can learn to fold gauze and do it correctly in under a minute because it isn't rocket science. Literally the only thing you need is some gauze which your dentist should've given you after your extraction.



How to fold gauze for wisdom teeth:

  1. Take 2-3 pieces of gauze.

  2. Fold it in half once.

  3. Fold it in half again.

  4. You should end up with a small square.




You're basically done after those simple steps and it should've taken you a grand total of 5 seconds to do it. The end result is a small square of folded up gauze which you can now use to stop the wisdom tooth hole bleeding.


What to do with the folded gauze

Folding the gauze properly is only the first part because the next step is to actually use it by biting down onto it. It is this second part of the process which gets the wisdom tooth bleeding to actually stop.


How to use folded gauze:

  1. Place the folded gauze directly over wisdom tooth hole.

  2. Bite down and apply firm pressure without letting go for 30 minutes.

  3. Switch out to a new piece of folded gauze every 30 minutes until it stops bleeding.


Below is an image of what the end result should look like.


how it looks like when biting on gauze
how it looks like when biting on gauze

If you run out of gauze, there are alternatives that you can use.


Importance of using gauze after an extraction

The primary purpose of using gauze after wisdom teeth removal is to stop the bleeding. It is probably the most important step of the aftercare process because failure to staunch the bleeding can be life threatening.


Luckily for you, that mishap can be avoided by using gauze correctly. However, biting on gauze is but one piece of the solution. There are actions which you may be doing that can ruin all of your gauze biting efforts and make you continue to bleed.


Actions which contribute to wisdom teeth bleeding:

  • Spitting

  • Rinsing

  • Drinking through a straw


If you do any of the above 3 things, you can potentially dislodge the blood clot and resume bleeding. What you've effectively done is undo all of that time you just spent biting on folded gauze.


 

Common mistakes using gauze

If you're using gauze but the bleeding from the wisdom tooth hole refuses to slow down, there may be an error in how you're using it. We will review some common mistakes that we see our patients do when they're using gauze.


Common mistakes using gauze:

  • Not using enough gauze. The general rule of thumb is to use 2-3 pieces of gauze but the quantity you should use depends on the size of your socket. A very large socket may require more gauze.

  • Not enough biting pressure. You must be biting down onto the gauze with firm pressure to stop the bleeding. If you keep letting go and simply letting it hang over the socket, you will not achieve any hemostasis.

  • Using crumpled gauze. The most effective shape for wisdom teeth gauze is a square. If you crumple it, it won't do much to stop the bleeding at all.


crumpled up gauze
crumpled up gauze

Consequence of not enough gauze

If you don't use enough gauze, you won't be able to effectively apply pressure into the wisdom tooth socket. In other words, your gauze biting won't do much to stem the bleed.


Below is an image which visually demonstrate what we mean by not using enough gauze.


Biting on one piece of gauze
Biting on one piece of gauze

Now compare that to biting on enough gauze in the image below.


biting on enough gauze
biting on enough gauze

What the images show:

  • Image one shows biting on one piece of gauze. Here you can see that the teeth are completely closed which means you may not be exerting enough pressure into the socket.

  • Image two shows biting on two pieces of gauze. Here you can see how the teeth don't touch. That is a sign that you are exerting sufficient pressure into the socket.


In summary, you should be using enough gauze where you bite down and you can't get your teeth to touch. That is a tell-tale sign that a lot of pressure is being applied to the third molar socket.


Visual difference of enough gauze

To drive the point home, we will show you the visual differences in the thickness of gauze for varying quantities.



The images compare a single piece of folded gauze to 2 pieces, 3 pieces, and 4 pieces. As you can see in the photos, the more pieces of gauze that you use, the thicker the folded up shape will be. Long story short, you need enough girth for your folded gauze to apply enough pressure to stop the bleeding.


 

How to tell you're doing it right


Signs of doing it right:

  • Folded gauze is a square shape.

  • When you bite down your teeth don't touch.

  • Bleeding becomes less every time you switch out gauze.

  • Bleeding ceases after 2-3 hours.


Signs of doing it wrong:

  • Your folded gauze isn't a square.

  • Your teeth touch when you bite down on the gauze.

  • Beeding isn't slowing down when switching out gauze.

  • Socket hasn't stopped bleeding even after 3 hours.


What to do if bleeding really isn't stopping

We have 3 recommendations as to what to do if the third molar socket is still bleeding despite using gauze.

  1. Review the correct way to use folded gauze. If you're doing it wrong, try following our directions to see if it stops after 2-3 hours.

  2. If you were doing it the right way, you may want to try using a black tea bag instead of gauze. Black tea has tannins in there which can help with blood clotting. Bite on a wet black tea bag for 2-3 hours to see if it stops.

  3. If even the black tea bag fails, you need to contact your dentist immediately because you may have an undiagnosed bleeding disorder.


Typically, what you want to look for is a positive trend. The socket may continue to ooze blood over the next day or two after your procedure. However, the amount of bleeding should be less and less which is a positive sign.


A negative sign is if the bleeding shows no sign of stopping or it starts bleeding more profusely. If you notice a negative sign, that is a sign that you should see your dentist.


Takeaway

Folding gauze for your wisdom teeth should only take a couple of seconds to perform. If you notice that your socket doesn't stop despite using folded gauze, there may be an error in your technique so review what we've discussed below.


However, if the bleeding really doesn't stop for whatever reason, you should contact your dentist immediately. You may have an undiagnosed bleeding disorder.

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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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