When necessary, a tooth extraction can improve the health of your smile when all other options have been exhausted. If you are in need of a tooth extraction, Dr. Debora Bolton can help this service to be as comfortable and efficient as possible for you.

After a tooth extraction, we will place a piece of gauze over the site which you should bite down on firmly for 30 minutes. You should then replace the gauze and bite down on it for another 30 minutes, repeating this step until the bleeding stops. This means that a blood clot has formed in the extraction site which aids healing. Here are some additional after-care instructions you should follow after a tooth extraction.

The Day Of Surgery

  1. Your tongue, lips, and cheeks may feel numb for several hours after the procedure, so try to avoid biting these areas.
  2. Take the pain medication we prescribe or two tablets of ibuprofen before the numbness wears off so you can feel more comfortable as you heal.
  3. Eat soft foods, avoiding spicy, crunchy, hard, or acidic foods as well as alcohol. Cold foods can feel more soothing and may help to decrease the swelling in your mouth.
  4. Until the bleeding in your mouth stops, avoid drinking with a straw, eating food, sucking on the wound, spitting, touching the extraction site, rinsing vigorously, exercising, or smoking.
  5. Swelling is common during the first 48-72 hours after the extraction. During the first 24 hours, you can help to control and reduce swelling with the use of an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables. Place the pack against your cheek for 30 minutes every hour. We ask that you do not use an ice pack after the first day of surgery.

The Day After Surgery (Or Until Healing Is Complete)

  1. Brush your teeth gently after meals, avoiding the area near the extraction site.
  2. Rinse your mouth gently several times a day for five minutes’ time using a salt water rinse. To create this rinse, dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water.
  3. Continue to take pain medication as needed. Eat soft foods until you feel ready to return to your normal diet.
  4. Use a heating pack for 30 minute intervals to help reduce swelling.
  5. Continue to avoid exercise and strenuous activities because doing them elevates your blood pressure, which can dislodge the blood clot and cause the extraction site to bleed again.
  6. If you experience increased swelling, pain, continued difficulty moving your jaw, or trouble swallowing, then call our office immediately at 919-381-5900.

Excess Bleeding

If you remove a gauze pad after 60 minutes of biting down on it and still experience excess bleeding, then complete the following:

  1. Remove excess blood with a gauze pad.
  2. Dampen a gauze pad, fold it into a square, and place it over the bleeding area.
  3. Bite down on the pad firmly for 20 minutes (you can also try using a moist tea bag)
  4. Call our dentist if the bleeding persists


Those who regularly smoke heal more slowly and have a higher risk for dry socket. This painful condition occurs when the blood clot protecting the extraction site dislodges, exposing the nerve to bacteria. You should avoid smoking after an extraction for 48 hours, preferably longer. We can prescribe a nicotine patch to help you during this time. If you do start to smoke again, then place a gauze pad in your mouth to protect the extraction site.